Use technology to spur growth in cities and towns

PHOTO:Louis Otieno, spoke at the Kusi event in Kisumu

City managers have been urged to use technology and plan to reduce overcrowding,  inequality, and what’s termed as ‘Mumbai’ moment, especially in the wake of urban realities because of Covid 19. 

Speaking in Kisumu at the annual Kusi ideas festival, Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o underscored the need to plan cities to because of rural to urban migration and Covid 19 disruptions.

“The future of development planning is going to be urban planning. Whether or not you like it, people are moving into urban areas,” he said while speaking at a panel discussion about Covid 19 and the new urbanization realities. “Young people in my home area no longer want to build simba in their homesteads, they rent in urban areas,” he added.

Speaking at the same event, Louis Otieno Ogingo, a technology expert who also sits in Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) Covid-19 Advisory and Resource Mobilization committee urged cities to embrace technology to deal with new covid realities of social distancing, hand washing and the wearing of masks.

“Now that personal spacing is being redefined, we need to innovate around moving goods by utilizing boda boda riders, especially in rural areas,” he said.He, however, cautioned that technology is only an enabler but not an end by itself and urged city planners to put people at the centre of innovation

“I come from Homabay county when you look at the economic opportunities for trade, we need to innovate to enable boda boda riders to carry both goods and people. The only thing required is the technology to enable this transition,” he said. 

Louis Otieno Ogingo predicted the growth of cities into metropolises and urged cities to embrace technology as an enabler. 
“We are going to see metropolises, an aggregation of neighbourhoods with social amenities like supermarkets, banks, markets, etc. What’s going to enable that is technology,” he added.

He also said that while there’s fear that COVID-19 infection cases may spike, he urged the LREB counties to provide “to have as many washing centres as garbage collection points.”

Speakers also made calls to strengthen fragile health systems in urban areas, especially in low-income areas that were inefficient and exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we think about urbanization, what does health systems look like? Africa performs dismally at 43% achievement of some level of quality health care,” noted Liz Ntonjira, AMREF’s Global Communications Director.
She urged city managers to prioritize access to clean water. “Covid showed the need to have water as a basic need. Everybody needs to access water as a basic need.
Kisumu county is scheduled to host Africities Summit 2021.

By LTN Reporter