- The latest report from Allianz describes life in the megacity of 2030.
- The nervous system of the urban area will be based on the Internet.
- Strong growth particularly in Asia and Africa with Cairo, Lagos and Kinshasa as the continent megacities. Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg and Luanda are expected to emerge as megacities by 2030.
Somalilandsun – “By 2030, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities; many of them in megacities – conglomerations with ten million inhabitants or more. The trends of tomorrow are being born in these cities and we will need to find answers to the enormous challenges they pose,” says Axel Theis in the latest Allianz Risk Pulse entitled “The megacity state: the world’s biggest cities shaping our future.” The member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE responsible for Global Insurance Lines and Anglo Markets continues: “Our main question is going to be, ‘How can we find the right balance between growth, quality of life and climate protection?”
There are already 29 megacities and the number is growing fast. The concentration of inhabitants, buildings and infrastructures is rising exponentially as available space continues to shrink. Many of these cities are located in low-lying coastal regions, which are especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and climate change. At the same time, life expectancy is increasing in many regions of the world. In 2030, 15% of the world’s population will be older than 60. This trend is also taking place in megacities.
More than 12% of global city dwellers live in the megacities in 2015. That is more than 470 million people. Tokyo (38 million), Delhi (25.7 million) and Shanghai (23.7 million) are the largest ones. They will remain so up to 2030, by which time 12 new megacities will have emerged, 10 of them in Asia or Africa. Delhi, Dhaka, and Lagos will each have added around 10 million inhabitants – the equivalent of another megacity. African and Asian megacities are the fastest growing metropolises: Delhi, Dhaka and Lagos will grow by 10 million inhabitants each. Johannesburg is estimated to have 9.7 million dwellers in 2015. This could rise to 11.9 million by 2030. Luanda is at 5.5 million at the moment and is forecast to grow to 10.4 million in the next 15 years.
In Asian and African megacities, children younger than 15 years make up at least a quarter of the population. In these places, basic sanitation, energy, healthcare, education and transport services will be critical to enable young people to become productive citizens and thereby allow societies to fully exploit their demographic dividend.
In its report, Allianz addresses the implications of these developments and describes the role of insurance. Theis explains, “As living conditions in large metropolises change, so do the needs of their inhabitants and we, as insurers, are going to have to meet them. For example, in the case of managing the risk of natural catastrophes or supporting infrastructure projects.”
Explosive growth of megacities
Today’s urban spaces are growing enormously and blasting through many dimensions. In 1950, only New York and Tokyo exceeded a population of 10 million; in 2030, there will be over 40 megacities. As early as 2020, the greater Shanghai area could even become a “giga city” with 170 million inhabitants – more than double the population of South Africa.
So what is the appeal? The prospect of jobs and a better infrastructure are currently attracting young people to urban areas. This migration is leading talents, opportunities and investments to concentrate in the cities. According to the OECD, it is only a matter of time before some metropolises have more economic clout than entire countries.
In the megacity of the future more and more people will live in smaller households because the traditional family unit is becoming increasingly disbanded. The demand for living space will therefore rise substantially. This challenge can be countered with innovative technologies, such as 3D-printed houses.
Short distances are the name of the game
Many researchers view the city of the future above all as a compact entity characterized by short distances. “The ideal city will be made up of many autonomous centers,” says Thomas Liesch of Allianz Climate Solutions. “People will live and work in their respective districts, which will in turn save them a lot of time and energy. Fewer cars mean more space for pedestrians and a network of green spaces will connect the individual neighborhoods. This sort of development would improve the climate and leave more space for leisure activities and food production.”
With resilience in mind, academics, politicians and business representatives have developed a vision of a Smart City. The nervous system of tomorrow’s intelligent city will be based on the Internet: electricity, transportation as well as supply and disposal systems will all be electronically linked. Buildings will produce their own electricity and even store it, for example using high-powered battery storage systems. This will result in a decentralized energy-generation and storage system, which will have the additional benefit of mitigating the impact of power outages. Automatic traffic control systems will respond to real-time data, reducing traffic and redirecting it if necessary. The workplace and the home will merge. Supply chains will be optimized.
Will this vision will become reality? There is certainly no one-size-fits-all model according to which life in the city of the future will work. However, as the Allianz report shows, many interesting solutions and approaches are already in place to address the most pressing challenges.
If you have any further questions, please contact:
Lesiba Sethoga Tel. +27 11 214 7948 – Lesiba.Sethoga@allianz.com