The United Kingdom has pledged new aid towards building green cities across Africa with quality infrastructure to help the continent reach its economic potential.
The announcement from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) came as its secretary Alok Sharma visited Kenya ahead of the UK–Africa investment summit in London on January 20.
Sharma said he would set up the UK Centre for Cities and Infrastructure which aims to turbo-charge investment in fast growing cities across the developing world.
The centre will provide British expertise to African governments and city authorities to improve the way cities are planned, built and run, including making them more environment-friendly. It will focus on improvements to infrastructure, including water and energy networks.
Sharma also announced an expansion of the DFID's Cities and Infrastructure for Growth programme – which helps UK businesses invest in quality, resilient infrastructure, boosting access to reliable and affordable power and creating construction jobs – to Ghana, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
"Our new UK aid support ... will contribute to creating the African cities of the future, using British expertise to provide quality, green infrastructure across the continent," he said.
"Infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth. It helps the poorest people access basic services such as clean water and electricity, creates jobs and boosts business."
The DFID said African cities produced more than half of the continent’s income, but too many suffered from poor connectivity and congestion which hindered growth.
Africa has an urban population of 472-million which is set to double over the next 25 years, providing an opportunity for its cities to prosper if the right infrastructure and jobs are available.
Sharma visited Kisumu in western Kenya, where British businesses such as drinks company Diageo and solar power provider Azuri Technologies operate.
Diageo makes beer in a modern, environmentally-friendly brewery using sorghum plants from nearby farms, while Azuri provides pay-as-you go solar energy systems to off-grid homes across Africa.