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Durban, 14 Sept 10

APA business meeting

With an accelerated pace of urbanization which is projected to result in over 300 million new urban dwellers in the next 20 years, planners in Africa are faced with the daunting task of ensuring that the development takes place in an orderly manner.

This is one of the main issues which African planners sought to address during Planning Africa 2010 Conference which staged recently in Durban, South Africa. They expressed a firm belief that planners can and should play a key role in advising policy makers and developing appropriate responses to make cities work better for all, and particularly for the poor.

It sets out to contribute to the development of Africa through better spatial and physical planning, review and improvement of planning systems across the continent as well as linking African planners and facilitate capacity building and shared learning, and the creation of an indigenous and integrated African approach to urban planning.

Despite the great diversity in terms of capacities, urban problems and planning systems, the Associations gathered in Durban resolved to commit to an African perspective and to contribute to its formulation linking theory and practice, towards an African approach to urban sustainability and poverty.

'Africa urban problems are like a supernova ready to explode – urban planners can play a critical role if their voice is made more clear and strong' said Sasha Jogi, Vice President of the Zimbabwe Institute of Rural and Urban Planners.

Meeting on the side of the Conference, the African Planners have agreed on a shared work plan focusing on the mobilization of other members and peer support to the countries that do not yet have a functioning Association of urban planners and agreed to establish a website for all members.

The APA members also agreed to share information on the respective country activities, legislation and ongoing planning work, and to prepare a report on the State of Urban Planning in the region, to complement existing report on the State of African Cities and other ongoing urban research, bringing in the point of view of practitioners. In 2011, sub-regional meetings will also be held in East, North, West and Southern Africa, to mobilise further local associations.

A plenary dialogue session anchored by UN-HABITAT and with the APA members making up the panel, explored the most urgent issues. It concluded that positive responses and initiatives are coming from different African countries, but challenges remain, especially dealing with the complexity of African cities, differing cultural contexts, inadequate national urban policies, and resources allocation. In all the countries, reinventing planning remains and important task ahead for professionals in the public and private sector as well as in academia.

The African Planners Association was initiated by representatives of 7 African Planning Associations or Institutes (Egypt, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia) in 2006. Since then, 8 other associations joined (Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia) APA. Today the number of members is 18, representing as many African countries. At the Durban meeting, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania joined the Association.

The Secretariat of the Association will be ensured by the South African Planning Association (SAPI) and its convener is Mr Ashraf Adam, past President of SAPI. Further enquires can be addressed to him at: ashraf.adam7@gmail.com

The Association will rely on members' contributions, private sector contributions, and will also seek donors. UN-HABITAT has provided an initial seed funding of US$60,000 for 2010.

The Planning Africa Conference is a biennial event organized by the South African Institute of Planners since 2002. The 2010 session, held in Durban, South Africa gathered over 500 urban planners from public and private sectors and academia, around the theme: Beyond Crisis- Opportunities and Actions. <ore details on the Conference and its outcomes can be found on http://www.sapi.org.za

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