According to the United Nations, the African population is expected to double by 2050, to reach 2.5 billion, while its urban population will triple and exceed 1.5 billion. Five African countries are among the world’s nine fastest-growing countries : Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt.
To cope with these rapid and major transformations of the African continent, a new approach of urban development seems necessary. The city must become more inclusive, more productive and more resilient, while improving access to vital services such as health, education or security. Designing sustainable city in Africa is therefore a fundamental problem which requires immediate action.
In this context, the You-Tilities project jointly run by the two NGOs THEnet and Scale promotes a large-scale development of local sustainable infrastructure solutions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. You-Tilities is an innovative solution allowing, when the local utilities are deficient, to provide services of general interest, in particular to the hospitals, services of essential utilities to their operation (energies, waters, waste management) with the best conditions reliability, durability and price. Their staff, in particular the medical and administrative ones, can thus dedicate themselves fully to their missions of health, education and social integration without having to worry about logistics.
SUSTAINABLE CITY IN AFRICA
Given local demographic, political, economic and cultural challenges, but also global geopolitical and environmental contexts, the question of sustainable cities in Africa is becoming a priority.
Cities are the nerve centers for the economic, political and cultural life of a territory, and it is notably where services of education, health, transport or security are concentrated. Without accessible, efficient and reliable services, the city can not fulfill its function within the territory, leading to the drop-out of entire communities and aggravating inequalities.
According to THEnet, lack of access to reliable, sustainable, modern and affordable energy services generates chronic disruption of care – surgery, sterilization, cold chain, water filtration and disinfection, etc. This need becomes even more important as these care turn digital – instrumentation, data sharing, sharing of knowledge and good practices, online diagnostics, training, etc., and that doctors, researchers, teachers, administrative staff and technology now require seamless connectivity between them and with the rest of the world.
Providing a concrete integrated solution, based on clean energy sources, to meet the needs of hospitals at the heart of cities, is to allow in the short term the pursuit of at least five of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals: 3 (access to health), 7 (use of renewable energies), 10 (reduction of inequalities), 11 (cities and sustainable communities), 13 (fight against climate change).
In developing countries and some developed countries, users have to overcome the shortcomings of public infrastructure by acquiring and exploiting them, often in a sub-optimal manner. But this approach requires a significant investment, to the detriment of the main activity, which strongly limits the penetration of these solutions. In addition, the rise of telecom networks and the development of innovative financial services from smartphones are now making alternative models possible, and in particular the « utility as-a-service » solution.
The “as-a-service” approach was initially developed in the computer industry to provide users with software services without having to deal with the complexities of acquiring, installing, maintaining and updating these software and the associated infrastructures. This approach allows the user to pay only the cost of a service and concentrate his resources on his core business.
Traditional model vs “as-a-service” model