By Snetsehay Assefa Fortune Staff Writer
French firms, hired by the government, reported that the existing urban system in Ethiopia was dominated by the primacy of Addis Abeba and characterized by low urban infrastructure and services, poor housing and weak governance; secondary cities played a minor role in supporting regional development.
The Ministry of Urban Development, Housing Construction (MoUDHC) has hired an international firm to conduct the first national urban study, the study which costs 51.9 million Br will be finalized in the coming three months.
The 51.9 million Br study, financed by the World Bank, is titled “National Urban Development Spatial Plan”. It is being carried out by a French consultancy, Egis international, in association with IAU-IdF and Urba Lyo. Egis is a French based company that is engaged in engineering and consulting in the sector of transport, urban development, building water, environment and energy, having 12,000 employees over 100 countries. The company has been giving various consultancy services on road construction, design and supervision in Ethiopia for the last 20 years.
The plan endeavours to assess the existing problems and anticipate opportunities, challenges and problems the future might convey regarding location, size and function of key urban settlements across the country, how they are linked together, how they interact with their hinterlands, according to Gabriel Deribe, country manager of Egis International.
The company submitted part of the study titled “The Existing Situation and Diagnostic Report” in December, 2014, to the Ministry of Urban Development, Housing Construction (MoUDHC). This study incorporated 12 cities, including Addis Abeba, Mekelle, Bahir Dar, Komblocha and Welkite. The study was presented to the Prime Minister and regional authorities for discussion on January 31, 2015.
In order to break the trend of the dominance of Addis Abeba and the secondary importance of other urban areas, the study suggested a polycentric urban development scenario where few major urban areas will be the base for the growth of their respective hinterlands with a focus on manufacturing and service economic activity.
“The urban scheme is supported by complementary corridors that connect the main secondary cities so facilitating the inter-regional exchanges of goods and services. These cities are expected to be providing services for their large hinterlands supporting rural/agricultural development. Combined with higher productivity, this scenario allows Ethiopia to accelerate the process of reaching middle income status,” Gabriel said.
The study is conducted based on the Urban Planning Proclamation No. 574/2008, which considered National Urban Development Plan Scheme in order to bring balanced and integrated development, stated member of the study technical advisory committee. Regional urban studies have been conducted taking into account their demography and hinterland, infrastructure provision but this study is the first to be conducted at the national level, he added.
The Study took the existing urban organization of the country, the demography and economic trends, committed and planned projects, and the policy regime and targets of the government into consideration, explained Gabriel. Various ministries participated in the study which will be an input and drive to their policy and strategy focus as well as the country’s next Growth Transformation Plan. But for the successful implementation of the study key challenges in poor designing, rudimentary physical planning, ineffective management should be addressed, the Egis’ study cautioned.
Egis was among the 21 companies that had responded to the expression of interest notice announced on September 29, 2012. Six were shortlisted, including Khatib Alami Consulting Engineering, which is a 50 year-old Lebanese company and Niras International, a multi disciplinary consultancy company established in Denmark in 1956. After winning the technical and financial evaluation, Egis signed the contract on January 9, 2014.
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