The South African Planning Institute recently hosted its fourth Planning Africa Conference in Durban. The theme of the conference was "Beyond Crisis:
Opportunities and Actions", a highly relevant theme due to the global nature,
scale and impact of the crisis.
The conference brought together urban and regional planners across the academic, public and private sectors. A record number of delegates from across the world attended the opening day. Besides the South African delegates, the largest contingent was from Nigeria.
The conference was opened by Mayor Obed Mlaba of eThekweni Municipality. The keynote address was given by Frikkie Brooks on behalf of Nomusa Dube, the Member of the Executive Council for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal.
The conference emphasised that the global economic crisis places a major
constraint on development in Africa at a time when the continent was just
beginning to see the fruits of sound macro-economic policies, fiscal prudence and
good governance - reversing some of the gains achieved in progressing towards
the Millennium Development Goals.
Resolutions emerging from the conference included a call for planners to keep the space open for continued transformation discourse and practice in order to address the constraints imposed by the global financial crisis. Planners from participating countries were also encouraged to leverage and influence the third dimension of governance and political capital in order to foster strategic responses to urbanisation, including massive durable infrastructure investment and value capture.
It was suggested that papers at the next Planning Africa conference should focus on experiences and solutions with regard to the potential of innovative land-use management mechanisms e.g. development charges, land release and in-situ upgrading to drive inclusive and growth inducing urban development.
The conference also supported the establishment of a "Women in Planning" network to elevate the critical, yet often poorly engaged gender-dimension of planning and development. Delegates were encouraged to use the deliberations at the conference to influence long-term planning of their localities (IDPs in South Africa) and increased community participation. All local government planning officials should be encouraged to attend future Planning Africa conferences.