African continent in terms of infrastructure development

The surge in infrastructural activities shouldn’t come as a surprise though, given Addis Ababa’s important place in the political life of the African continent.

Posted by Times Publications on Monday, 30th November -0001

These massive infrastructure projects, along with the ever-increasing number of high-rise buildings popping up on every corner of the city, have been nothing but impressive to many. So much so that some dubbed Addis ‘a city of reconstruction’.

The surge in infrastructural activities shouldn’t come as a surprise though, given Addis Ababa’s important place in the political life of the African continent; the city hosts the African Union’s headquarters, the office of the United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UN-ECA), and major regional and global organizations. Addis Ababa’s significance in Africa, along with other attractions, have obviously played a favorable role in putting the city on the world’s leading travel publisher, Lonely Planet’s ‘2013 Top 10 Cities to Visit’ list.

Ethiopia’s capital is obviously making significant strides when it comes to putting in place some of the basic urban infrastructure, but it still has a long way to go to live up to its status as a metropolis and its important place on the African continent. Public parks are perhaps one of the major features of a metropolis that are missing from Addis Ababa’s landscape. Unfortunately, Addis has yet to embrace the culture of building and proper management of public parks. The city’s major venues are obviously devoid of anything that looks like a well-planned park.

Well-planned and managed public parks make urban life conducive to its citizens in many ways. In addition to their aesthetic value, they help maintain the biodiversity of their surrounding areas and reduce carbon emissions there by cooling down the heat of the city during the dry season, according to a study conducted by Dr. Lumlachew Yeshitila, an urban ecologist teaching at the Addis Ababa University. The research which was presented at a public debate held in 2013 in Addis on ‘Urban Public Services’ points out that the benefits of parks also extend to the health of residents as well, in terms of reducing respiratory diseases which emerge in cities because of pollution and increases in heat levels.

The study also uncovered an unsettling mismatch between UN World Health Organization (WHO) standards on the distribution of green areas in Africa’s urban centers and how much green area Addis has at the moment. Though WHO suggests a per capita distribution of 7 square meters of green areas and parks in urban centers across Africa, what is available in Ethiopia’s capital is a mere 0.3 square meter access to green areas and parks. The city needs 2,700 hectares of accessible green areas and parks to meet the minimum requirement, according to the research. Though the administration of Addis Ababa bears the major responsibility of setting up and managing green areas and parks, the virtue of environmental protection has yet to sink in the psyche of the city’s average resident so as to create fertile ground to advance the cause. This is perhaps the main reason why spaces set aside for green areas in different districts and neighborhoods are usually neglected and ultimately turn into desolate areas covered with weeds.

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