Lahore is expected to join Karachi among the world’s ‘mega cities’ by 2025, according to a UN report which predicts that half of the world’s 6.7 billion people are expected to live in urban areas by the end of this year. The report, entitled “2007 Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects”, provides the official UN estimates and projections of the urban, rural and city populations of all countries in the world up to 2050.

The latest data in the report confirms that “urbanisation is growing everywhere”, Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), told a news briefing at which the report was released. She referred to “mega cities” — those with more than 10 million inhabitants — which today accountnt for about 9 percent of the world’s urban population. While the report estimates that the number of mega cities will increase to 27 by 2025, she pointed out that these centres would likely account for only 12 percent of the world’s urban population growth. Smaller cities are likely to grow more quickly. Tokyo metropolis – with 36 million people in 2007 — was by far the most populous urban centre, and is expected to retain that stature into 2025, she said.

Population growth: The fastest population growth rates will probably be found in Africa, in cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which could both become ‘mega cities’ in the coming decades. Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi were also “prime candidates”, Zlotnik added.

According to the report, Karachi ranks 12th among the world’s ‘mega cities’ with a population of 12.1 million in 2007. The report projected Karachi’s population for 2025 as 19.1 million, while Lahore would be the world’s 24th most populous city with 10.1 million inhabitants. The report said the world’s population was expected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, to 9.2 billion. By that time, urban population is expected to rise from nearly 3.4 billion in 2008 to 6.4 billion in 2050.

Urban regions will thus absorb most of the world’s population increase in the next four decades, while simultaneously drawing in more of the rural population. There would be 600 million fewer inhabitants in rural areas by 2050, the report said. The projected urban population figure of 6.4 billion represented a drop from last year’s anticipation of 8.4 billion people in urban areas, because experts believe that birth rates will decline more rapidly than they originally thought. As with the general population growth, most of the urban increases will take place in developing and less developed countries as opposed to developed nations, in which 74 percent of the population already live in cities and towns. By 2050, 54 percent of the population in Asia and 19 percent in Africa will live in cities, the report concludes. Africa and Asia still have large rural populations, in contrast to Latin America and the Caribbean, where 78 percent of the population already lives in cities.

Source: Daily Times