By the Blouin News Politics staff

Can Africa make its growing cities economic engines?

by in Africa.

(Source: Daniel lam/flickr)

(Source: Daniel lam/flickr)

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) began its annual week of meetings on Monday in Lusaka, Zambia, with a very ambitious agenda. They intend to create 25 million jobs for young people across the continent over the next decade, aiming for “nothing less than the social and economic transformation of Africa.” To do this, they will have to surmount the number one challenge limiting growth: lack of electricity.

Some 650 million Africans lack power, but the real trick will be generating additional power without exacerbating climate change. Better planning can solve many problems at once, including energy, urban sprawl, unemployment, and pollution. By 2050 two thirds of Africa’s population will live in cities, so it is crucial to avoid the mistakes of the past — where all too often haphazard growth and unclear land titles led to very uneven growth and persistent urban poverty. Additionally, the lack of reliable power meant overreliance on dirty generators for electricity, and burning trash, coal, wood, or trash for heat — which when not properly ventilated is a major…

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