Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Rise of Asian Mega-Cities

The world is 50.5% urbanised (CIA The World Factbook, 2010, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011). However, China, Africa and India are likely to undergo a huge amount of urbanisation over the next few decades. The current population of China is 43% of the world's total, Africa is 33% and India 29% (CIA The World Factbook, 2010, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011). If these countries continue their already growing trends to city-living, we could have more than 80% of our population urbanised by the end of this century.

This brings huge logistical problems as well as the benefits of a consolidated workforce, an active market and income generation. The logistics of moving people to work each day, of removing waste, of providing water, housing, food and governance is a problem that will have cost and planning implications far in excess of what we have seen thus far.

Just 100 cities account for 30% of the world's economy, and almost all its innovation. Money, knowledge and stability come from world capitals that have evolved and adapted through centuries - and sometimes mere decades - of dominance (Foreign Policy, August 2010, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011).

The new rising cities are Lisbon, Brussels, Budapest, Seoul (each of the former already contributing 25% of their national GDP), Delhi, Shanghai, São Paulo, Moscow, Beijing, Mumbai, Istanbul, Belem, Chongqing and Guadalajara.
  • Each day, another 180,000 people move into cities, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers each year (Intuit, October 2010, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011).
  • By 2050, the global urban population is expected to be 6.3 billion, or 70% of the population at that time (UN, 2009, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011)
  • By 2030, China will have an urban population of 1 billion, and India 590 million. Currently, Europe's urban population is 533 million (McKinsey forecast & UN data, 2009-10, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011)
  • By 2030, China will have 221 cities with more than 1 million people, and India will have 68. In 2010, Europe has 35. During this period, 400 million Chinese and 215 million Indian will move to urban areas, more than the population of the US and Brazil combined (Foreign Policy, August 2010, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011)
  • In January 2011, Chinese city planners proposed merging the nine cities around the Pearl River Delta into a single metropolitan area, containing some 42 million people: more than Argentina, and covering an area 26 times bigger than Greater London (Reuters, January 2011, as cited by Trendwatching, 2011)
In addition, China is producing more Science degrees each year than the rest of the world combined. I suspect we will be start naturally looking to China for the new research breakthroughs in the next few years as well. India for IT, China for research.

We live in interesting times :-)

Thanks to Trendwatching for these statistics at http://www.trendwatching.com/briefing/

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