Migration to Urban Areas in the Developing World

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development argues in its Vision 2050 report (see page 3) that substantial changes will be necessary in all countries to accommodate the projected additional 2 billion increase in the global population by 2050 – particularly as 98% of this growth is predicted to take place in developing and emerging economies. The 2012 World Economic Forum Global Information Technology report (see page 114) notes that despite that while increases in Internet connectivity and the availability of online content and services will support future economic growth in remote or rural areas, demographic studies indicate large scale migration to cities and metropolitan areas continues to be a defining global trend.

The 2011 United Nations World Urbanization Prospects study (see page 4) forecasts that the world’s urban population will reach 6.3 billion by 2050 (up from 3.6 billion in 2011). Most of the projected growth in the world’s population will be concentrated in the cities of the developing world. As a consequence, the 21st century is likely to see an expanding number of megacities in Asia and Africa with over 10 million inhabitants (see page 5).

This trend will see millions of people aggregating together in densely populated and rapidly expanding cities in the developing world, which will generate significant logistical and infrastructural challenges, associated with the administration of water, power and shelter (Evaluation of Spatial Information Technology Applications for Mega City Management, University of Mainz, 2009, page 1). In the context of these challenges, hyper-connected technology assisted solutions; both in the management of urban infrastructure, and in the delivery of government services and healthcare could play a pivotal role in enhancing the living standards for residents of these sprawling conurbations (Global Information Technology Report 2012, page 114). The US National Intelligence Council’s 2012 report (see page ix) that information technology-based solutions to maximize citizens’ economic productivity and quality of life while minimizing resource consumption and environmental degradation will be critical to ensuring the viability of megacities.