True to Cameroon’s enduring inclination to substandard approaches to proffering solutions to national socio-economic problems and relying on foreign expertise, the nuisance chaotic urbanization in Cameroon has been posing may soon be consigned to history books, thanks only to fruits of bilateral relationships with Canada and China.
The imminent succour was made public by Cameroon’s Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Mbwentchou Jean Claude, while opening a press conference to announce the second International Conference on Canadian, Chinese and African Sustainable Urbanization, ICCASU, at the Yaounde Conference Centre, recently. Admitting that the CIA World Fact Book estimates of the country’s urbanization rate at 3.6 percent between 2010 and 2015, he stated that the conference will examine ways in which global and local issues limit sustainable urban development, identify realistic and adaptable measures to augment local and global governance of urban spaces.
Mbwentchou, boasted that the Yaounde meeting will be one of the first transcontinental conferences to address the challenges identified by the New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III summit in October 2016. Pundits have however retorted almost immediately that being the first to address an issue does not guarantee efficacy.
The second ICCASU conference ran at the Yaounde Conference Centre from the 12 – 14, December 2017 and registered the participation of collaborators from the University of Ottawa, Canada and experts from the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat). They examined the current urban development models in Canada, China and Africa with the hope of identifying best practices to promote smart urban development, reduce vulnerability and address fragility in geographic, economic, political, and historical contexts.
On the eve of ICCASU 2017, participants were treated to a workshop dubbed, “sustainable development 2.0: operational tools for integrated and concerted urban planning.” The training session according to Minister Mbwentchou “will see intervention of seasoned specialists from prestigious universities across the world, including Cameroonian universities. This workshop aimed at training participants in the conduct and supervision of programmatic approaches applied to various contexts and scale of urban planning, as well as offered a methodological instruction, specialized and operational urban development tools and empowered participants so as to improve their use of town planning tools.”
The Minister announced that the three day workshop spanning 9 to 11 December to lay the groundwork for the 2017 ICCASU conference, was the main innovation of their second symposium to sandwich the event proper and the post-conference. He equally revealed that the UN-Habitat would organize a free workshop on Urban Journalism for communication professionals to “popularize the new urban guidelines adopted at the Habitat III during the third United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in Quito, Ecuador in 2016.”
Facilitators tipped that among other thematic areas, the session termed “Smart Urban Development: Local to Global Action” will focus on smart cities and climate change, special challenges for Urban Africa, urban security and land tenure issues, cities and climate change, and translating the new urban agenda into action.
It should be recalled that Cameroon took over from 2015 host, Canada, and will handover to their Chinese fellows for the 2019 ICCASU convention.
What remains in the hands of time to be ascertained is whether the meeting flanked by Ministers of State Property, Survey and Land Tenure, Higher Education, Communication, External Relations among researchers, decision makers from the private, civil society and public sectors, will be the magic wand urgently needed to resolve urbanization issues plaguing the 54.4 percent of Cameroon’s population which is urban.
By Claudia Nsono