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© Colourbox
Developing Megacities in Asia

February 19, 2008

The world’s urban population is growing as fast as never before. By 2020, seven of the world’s ten most populated cities will be located in Asia alone. In an effort to provide an adequate infrastructure for Asia’s mega cities, German companies play a major role.

In 2004, Hyderabad, the capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, had 3.5 million inhabitants, not including the outskirts. And the city continues to grow, explains German transport planner Christopher Walther: “Gigantic suburbs are emerging -- massive economic zones which develop into towns. Over the last two years, we've been able to see that the city has grown unbelievably fast. “

Walther works for PTV AG -- a transportation planning firm based in southern Germany. The firm's 700 employees develop innovative transport solutions. In Hyderabad, this means setting up systems, including online ones, for dealing with traffic and urbanisation-related problems.

Urban Planning

But the question is whether it is even possible to plan considering the uncontrollably rapid pace of growth. This goes for infrastructure in several Asian cities. According to the UN's estimates, over six billion people will be living in cities by 2050 -- the equivalent of today's global population. Half of them will be living in Asian cities, says Franz Marré from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development who paints a frightening picture of the future based on today's reality:

“The cities are collapsing. The health indicators show this clearly. Two out of three children have respiratory diseases caused by pollution.” He also points out at the problem of growing slums. “In Asia, 600 million people live in slums. This figure is growing fast and disproportionately.”

The Asian Development Bank estimates that 60 billion US dollars a year will have to be invested into the basic infrastructure of Asia's rapidly growing cities. This offers many investment possibilities to German companies, especially in areas such as water and power supply and waste disposal and management.

German Initiatives

German development institutions and the Asian Development Bank have founded the ‘Cities Development Initiative for Asia’, or CDIA. As Hannes Cassens from the German international development agency GTZ points out, many cities find it difficult to implement an urban development plan:

“Usually there might be something saying new bus networks have to be set up by 2010 but that's not enough to get any funding from banks. So the cities can turn to the CDIA and apply for funding and advice. We then provide our experts who go to the cities and help them improve local transport or set up a waste disposal system and so on. So the plan is broken down into concrete projects.”

Social and ecological criteria determine whether a city might be considered by the CDIA as an important investment. For German companies, which often have a good chance of winning the contracts, the emerging mega-cities represent a huge market.



© DW staff
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