Swiss sponsor city development scheme ‘in Africa, for Africa’

Specific challenges for urban planners in Africa include resource availability, water supply and sanitation, and the effects of climate change Keystone

The Swiss government is sponsoring the “African Cities Lab” initiative to provide online training for urban-development professionals in Africa.

This content was published on December 7, 2020 - 14:45

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) is spearheading this initiative – which has received funding from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) – through its Excellence in Africa Centre. The scheme has already signed up six partner organisations.

The African Cities Lab aims to develop training programmes “in Africa, for Africa”, EPFL said in a statement on Monday.

“The initiative comes in response to the extremely rapid growth of African cities and the ensuing need for urban planners trained in the challenges specific to those regions, especially in the areas of urban mobility, resource availability, energy management, water supply and sanitation, and the effects of climate change,” EPFL said.

“The goal is to give urban planners the tools and insight to develop African cities as sustainably as possible.

To that end, EPFL will develop a training platform with massive open online courses (MOOCs) that is aimed specifically at urban-development practitioners in Africa. In a second phase of the project, the platform will be extended to students.

Entire continent

The platform will be hosted at Sèmè City in Benin and will be run by local project managers across the continent with the assistance of EPFL.

Five other universities in Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Ghana and Rwanda are already involved. These universities were selected to span the entire African continent and will provide the skills needed to develop the MOOCs in French and English.

EPFL will receive CHF2.65 million ($3 million) in funding from SECO for the first phase of the project, which is scheduled to run for two-and-a-half years.

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