Nairobi, 22 June 2016—Africa is in dire need of registered planners, a situation that is impacting negatively on the continent’s development and UN-Habitat is keen on addressing this anomaly.

A meeting between Town Planners Registration Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (TOPREC) and UN-Habitat heard that Kenya, with a population of over 40 million had only 200 registered planners. The situation was not any better in Nigeria with only 4000 planners with a population of over 170 million.

“There is still a lot of misconception on the role of planners in many Africans where they are mostly seen as unnecessary and therefore best ignored,” lamented TOPREC President Prof. Timothy O. Egunjobi.

On the brighter side, Prof. Egunjobi expressed his delight with the new constitution passed by Kenya in 2010 which has given planners a bigger role. “It is gratifying to note that under this constitution which saw Kenya embrace devolution, no governor can embark on any project or accessing funding without involving planners and this is very encouraging,” he said.

He said his country Nigeria could learn a lot from Kenya. “In Nigeria, there is lack of political will and I believe we too can change the rules so that planners are given more say in projects because as they say if you build without planning then you are building for destruction,” he said.

Prof. Egunjobi who had led his top officials on a visit to Kenya signed two Memoranda of Understading with UN-Habitat which focused on four areas of cooperation.

The first area TOPREC drew attention to was the need to build the capacity of the members. He invited UN-Habitat to be a lead partner in the annual conferences held each year by his organisation. Second, the TOPREC chief requested for institutional strengthening for the town planners association. This could be done by donating equipment, finances or addressing library needs.

On municipal finance Prof. Egunjobi said the situation in Nigeria was not good at the moment adding that with good advice the prevailing circumstances can be turned around. He also sought help with advocacy to help take planning to the centre of development in his country.

On his part, UN-Habitat’s Director of Programmes Alioune Badiane agreed with Prof. Egunjobi that Africa had an acute shortage of planners. “As UN-Habitat we have often led by example in that there is no project we could ever engage in without involving planners,” he said.

Raf Tuts said Kenya had seen a good move where planning schools rose from just to 11 in seven years. He challenged TOPREc to be more creative in its fundraising efforts. Remy Sietchiping disclosed that last year UN-Habitat had worked closely with TOPREC to identify a roadmap on fundraising.

Others who spoke from UN-Habitat side included David Evans and Laura Petrella.

The second MoU was signed between UN-Habitat and the Center for Human Settlements and Urban Development (CHSUD), located at the Federal University of Technology; Minna,. The MoU saw the two institutions agree to collaborate in:

(a) Enhancing inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacities for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlements, regional planning and management in Nigeria

(b) Strengthening national, regional, metropolitan, town and urban development planning to support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas, to be implemented by UN-Habitat and CHSUD.