Here is a new article from our series about climate change and its effects. This time we are going to focus on the cities and their links to this problem.

The rate of urbanization in the world has increased considerably over the last century. In 1950, the urban population represented only 30% of the world’s population. Today 55% of humans around the world are urban according to the UN, which predicts that 68% of humans will live in cities by 2050.

This figure is therefore constantly increasing. Moreover, if the urbanization affected the industrialized countries in the mid-twentieth for the southern countries is now that urbanization explodes. Indeed, according to the same UN report, the urban population will be concentrated on the African continent and Asia and more particularly, in some countries such as India, China or Nigeria.


urban cities repartition worldwide


In addition, many cities have not been designed to accommodate so many people in such a short time because this growth has been rapid. There is therefore a lack of infrastructures of all kinds (schools, hospitals, roads). This leads to several challenges to manage. How do we create infrastructure sanitation for several million people?

The overpopulation of some cities or their rapid growth has created several problems. We must rethink the management of the city in all areas including:

  • Waste Management
  • Sanitation
  • Access to drinking water and electricity
  • Access to the service
  • Transportation

These are the challenges that large urban centers will have to manage in order to not degrade the quality of life of the inhabitants who occupy them.

Urbanization, the example of Dakar

surpopulation dans les grandes villes

The city of Dakar, capital of Senegal was originally designed to accommodate 300,000 people, now it has 3 million. This strong urban growth is notably due to a large rural exodus. As a result,  public services are overwhelmed and can hardly manage all this human flow that settles daily in the city.

We must therefore completely rethink the urban plan of the city in order to meet the needs of the Dakar’s inhabitants.

Finally, this important urbanization has serious consequences for the environment. For example, air pollution is increasing due to the multiplication of human activities on a small territory. In addition, this concentration of populations, especially in towns located in the lower coastal zone, increases the risk of flooding.

The very large urbanization is therefore a cause of global warming and increased risk. Cities are indeed more vulnerable to risks.

It is therefore necessary to find solutions it is in this context that develops smart cities.


The Smart cities, a solution to adapt the city to new challenges

The Smart City, or Smart City has overall objectives, cost optimization, and improving the well-being and quality of life of residents.

The smart city tends to respond to the new societal and environmental issues that we have outlined above, which stem from the consequences of global warming, overpopulation and increasing urbanization.

The goal of a smart city is above all sustainability, but also harmony between people, technology and infrastructure.

The concept of a smart city is rather recent, and stems from the realization that a more sustainable development model must be adopted and that it must go through the cities.


Do smart cities constitute replicable solutions for all countries?

From South Korea to Europe, China, India and the Middle East and now Africa many cities are trying to experiment on smart city solutions. However, many questions remain unresolved. Is it possible to develop smart cities on a large scale? Experiments show that some actions developed by smart cities are actually possible on a large scale.

For instance, better waste management through technology is possible. In Melbourne, public garbage bins with detectors will send a message to garbage collection services when it is time to empty them.

Smart cities through the use of innovative technologies therefore, intend to provide solutions to the problems of cities. This generally welcomed initiative, however, is also the subject of some concern and even criticism to a certain extent.

Smart cities are laboratories that some consider unsustainable on a large scale. They do not solve the problem of cities at the national level.

In African cities where these projects are developed, they are even strongly criticized as they seem out of step with the reality of the majority of the inhabitants of these cities. Indeed, these futuristic projects live next to shanty towns where access to running drinking water is not even guaranteed.

One of the most recurrent criticisms concerning smart cities lies in the fact that there is a lack of supervision which makes fear of drifts in terms of security, especially as regards the protection of the privacy of citizens.

The city remains an important actor of global warming. It is a source of many problems and it also remains as an important vector of solutions as we have seen through the example of smart cities which continue to develop to such an extent. By 2050, 7 out of 10 people in the world will live in a smart city.