Rapid urbanization a challenge for BRICS countries

Major cities in Brazil, China and India are witnessing rapid urbanization [Xinhua]

The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur will next week host the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum to discuss the challenges societies as more people move to the cities.

The forum titled, Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda, will focus on the efforts of major countries, such as China, India, and Brazil to overcome the challenges posed by rapid urbanization.

Some of these challenges include the ever-growing income gaps, smog and pollution, and crumbling infrastructure which can no longer support such population growth.

In 2018, about 50 per cent of the global population is living in cities. But the World Bank says that by 2050, 70 per cent of the global population will be living in cities.

In Delhi, for example, the number of residents living in the capital has grown from 9.7 million in 1990 to 25.7 million in 2015.

In fellow BRICS member, China, cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have seen their populations grow from 6.8 million to 20.4 million, and 7.8 million to 23.7 million, respectively, in the same period.

For Brazil, Sao Paulo has witnessed 14.8 to 21.1 million residents in the 25-year period.

For Africa, the greatest urbanization has happened in Cairo, from 9.9 million in 1990 to 18.8 million in 2015.

The rapidly changing climate and regional conflicts which have lately produced tens of millions of refugees further exacerbate the pressures these cities and others face, the World Bank says.

Read more: BRICS tackles urbanization

The BRICS Post

BRICS NDB bank loans to reach $2.5 bln in 2017 – official

Special Report on 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei (C), Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong (R) and President of the New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS K.V. Kamath attend the launching ceremony of the bank in Shanghai, east China, July 21, 2015 [Xinhua]

The BRICS New Development Bank is hoping to increase the size of its loans in 2017, a Chinese Ministry of Finance official said on Thursday.

The statements by Zhou Qiangwu reiterate remarks made last year by the NDB Vice-President Zhu Xian.

While the bank gave the go-ahead for loans to seven projects reaching $1.5 billion in 2016, the amount of approved loans is expected to reach $2.5 in 2017.

“We want to fund projects that are creative and bring benefits to the local people and environment,” Zhu said earlier.

BRICS officials are also expecting that the three-day ninth BRICS summit to kick off in Xiamen, China on September 3 will significantly boost the bank’s reach and scope of funded projects.

Two weeks ago, the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) was launched by South African President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg.

The African Regional Center will allow countries in the continent to have access to the $100 billion NDB.

The BRICS Bank has 23 projects at various stages of preparation for 2017 to 2018, with a total lending amount of $6 billion, NDB President K.V. Kamath said at a press conference last month in Shanghai.

Some of the bank’s biggest loans in 2016 targeted green and sustainable development such asr an offshore wind power energy generation project in China’s Fujian Province, and a transportation and roads project in the Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

The Madhya Pradesh project focuses on weather-proofing and improved road maintenance and asset management.

Financing sustainable development and infrastructure projects and local currency financing remain the focus of the New Development Bank launched by the BRICS countries, according to a new policy document for the next five years.

The new lender has said it plans to expand membership gradually.

“NDB signifies developing countries’ coming of age and reflects their aspirations to stand on their own feet,” according to the 2017-2021 strategy document.

BRICS members, China, India and Russia are also the three largest shareholders in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Both the BRICS Bank and the AIIB will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies