Arusha — CITIZENS in the six East African Community member states may be enjoying regular trips to towns, visiting relatives, but most of them would rather continue living in their rural villages, shunning urban localities, a report from the EAC Secretariat here has revealed.
"East Africa's urbanisation rate is significantly lower than the Sub-Saharan average; even with the 73 million East Africans expected to be living in urban areas by 2030, this will only constitute just 30 per cent of the total population, which is below the projected average of around 50 per cent for Sub-Saharan region," reads the East African Community's Vision 2050 report.
According to recent forecasts, the joint average urban population in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and (now included) South-Sudan is expected to increase from 39 per cent recorded four years ago in 2014 to 70 per cent by the year 2050. Despite the projection as documented in the EAC Vision 2050, urbanisation is howeverstill growing in the region, albeit on slow pace, with Tanzania being the most urbanised country in the East African Community.
According to the report, least 27 per cent of Tanzanians are living in towns and cities, compared to 22 per cent in Kenya; 20 per cent for Rwanda; 13 per cent for Uganda and a measly 6 per cent in Burundi, with no figures available for South-Sudan the newcomer which joined the Arusha pivoted community last year.
Experts at the community believe that with the ongoing improvement of social and public services in rural area, such as roads, electricity, education and water, even less people will be interested to leave their village cocoons for the city lights. At the moment, the East African Community has an estimated total population of 174 million residents, spread over an area measuring some 2.5 million square kilometres in which the six countries are mapped.
The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, responsible for Productive and Social Sectors, Ms Jessica Eriyo recently warned about exploding rate of population in the region, advising family planning.
The East African Vision 2050 calls for proper urban planning in the region to respond to expected growth of mega-cities in the region in 32 years from now and that while at it, shared standardisation needs to be set for cities of the future in the region .
That is in order to maintain harmonised service delivery for urban dwellers and to ensure coherence in standards for the structure and architecture of the cities for the future.