Urbanisation; the rise of the megacities

Urbanisation is a major change taking place globally. An estimated 60% of the world’s population will live in cities in 2030, compared to 54% now, and 29% in 1950. This rapid growth causes economical, social and ecological problems, but offers opportunities as well. It creates concentrated markets often containing consumers with higher levels of income who are willing to spend more and stimulate the economy.


AeroFarms is a New Jersey based company that wants to be ‘the commercial leader in urban agriculture’. It markets an approach to food production with LED lighting and aeroponics, negating the need for natural sunlight or soil.

Facts, Figures & Implications

  • 92% of the growth in urban population (2013-2030) will occur in developing countries
  • 11 of the 15 biggest megacities will be located in Asia in 2030
  • The 20 biggest cities consume 80% of the world’s energy and urban areas account for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. More demand for housing in urban areas causes further inflation of real estate prices
  • 11 of the 15 biggest megacities will be located in Asia in 2030
  • Urban centres will be responsible for 80% of the economic growth


Founded in Helsinki in 2010, Enevo is an example of a start-up fulfilling a real need of urban cities. Enevo uses new technologies (sensors) to create a logistics solution for waste collectors; saving authorities time, money and environmental detriment.

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Despite urbanisation is nothing new and it already has a major influence, the impact of it will increase even further. The increasing density of the global population causes comfort to be in reach of customers. People get more attached to their city than their country and when there is no need to leave, people prefer to stay. Cities have to innovate their infrastructure, housing, transport and facilities continuously and companies have to meet the consumer in every specific demand.

Due to high competition in cities, the challenge arises for every company to differentiate from their competitors. The customer is becoming more demanding and wants high quality customised goods and services. An everyday life that gets more turbulent causes customers to pay extra money in order to save time. For instance: preparation and delivery of products and services that unburden people’s concerns. On the other hand, it makes everyday life of customers possible and causes customers to attach more meaning to the access compared to the ownership of products.

The changing needs result in more on-demand services that help customers in the most effective way. Goods can be customised, delivered and created on the same day. Insurance subscriptions make it possible that you can swap your broken product for a new one without bothering about reparation. Technology trends like big data, internet of things and the rising computing power will help to create smart cities around users. Connected streets will gather information and are able to report water leaks, full containers, air pollution, free parking spots and dangerous situations.

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The world population that is growing, combined with the movement to the cities leads to what we call the Megacities. While the global rural population exceeds the urban population, the cities will continuously grow. The growing population will be accompanied by a lot of challenges. Housing, feeding and transport of this growing population will require smart solutions and change customer needs.

The goods of the different retailers in the cities will be able fulfil every possible need of the urban citizen. Car selling companies need to find innovative ways to differentiate from their business competitors. With a high competition the consumer will become exigent. High quality customized goods will be needed to impress a customer. On the other hand ensures the bustle of everyday live that consumers attach more value to access to instead of ownership of a mode of transport. That line of thought demands a whole different approach towards the customer. Meeting the customer in his need for efficiency will be key.

Lots of innovative ideas will be conceived to face all the challenges that these Megacities will entail. The shortage of parking spots that is growing will require smart car sharing solutions like Uber. Concepts like a bike friendly city or an improved public transport network will be implemented to encourage citizens to use other modes of transport. An optimal traffic flow will be generated to minimize traffic jams. By combining big data with internet of things devices to support the infrastructure, collecting and analysing traveling behaviour of citizens will enable optimal use of transport and the roads. This will result in smart traffic lights, park assistance, reporting of accidents, efficient illuminating, self-repairing roads and the monitoring of vehicle durability.


UberRUSH, the new service from tech giant Uber is a service towards companies who want to impress their customers with personalized on-demand delivery services.UberRush can deliver the product to a customer where they are when they want in the shortest time possible.

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When the urban cities and their population will continue to grow, the available space will become scarce and of higher value. Buildings have to be built vertically to save space. And that means not only in the air but also under ground, cause there is way more space under the surface then in the air. Smart solutions will be designed to use space in an optimal way while fulfilling the need of the more demanding urban population, building on water, extreme heights and in the desert. If technology developments and low energy costs allow us to control temperature in house at all costs we will be able to live everywhere.

Urban living becomes more expensive and because space is so precious, people have the need to design everything as efficient as possible. They expect an optimal use of space of their apartments in the city. Likewise, other domains, access to becomes more important than ownership of a place to live. Despite the scarcity people will demand more services in their living area. They prefer to live close to needed facilities, in a green area and in an attractive neighbourhood.

The renting of living space or even house sharing platforms like Airbnb will be part of the solutions to keep up with the demand and use available space and buildings in the most optimal way. Therefore, the challenge is to make use of room in an efficient manner. For example, smartly designed furniture inside state-of-the-art buildings give people the change to make use of the scarce space to the fullest. With these new technologies and the scarcity of space, people will probable be working from home more often. Therefore an optimal design of working space inside houses becomes increasingly important. Will offices still exist in a future where people can work from everywhere?

Ole Scheeren

Ole Scheeren, partner of the office for metropolitan area (OMA), designed an interconnected network of vertical buildings that are optimally use space in the natural environment. The buildings are placed in a hexagon with integrated gardens and terraces. This is done to create a green environment in the cities without using to much space.

From ownership to access

Breather is an on demand space renting platform for companies. Used by big companies as Uber and Facebook, it deals with the problem of limited space in the metropolitan cities. Started in the United States, Breather provides meeting rooms, event rooms or individual working spaces on demand.

The cities that become more crowded lead to a different mindset of consumers. Ownership of products such as an office or a car becomes more expensive and more difficult. Why bother, if people can make their life easier through renting these items ad hoc. Breather is an initiative that fulfils this need.

Breather is a platform that aims at businesses and is providing users with working spaces. Users in big cities like New York, Toronto and London can look on the platform for decent, fully catered spaces in their neighbourhood. Paid per hour and available in all sizes, these rooms offer a place to work individually or to meet up with clients. In this way Breather provides the availability and optimal use of working spots. Furthermore, it can be a solution to save time by optimally planning meeting areas for the users and their clients.

Smart solutions like Breather will start to pop up increasingly in the modern urban society. Understanding the need of the customer in advance becomes more important than ever. Optimally using and sharing assets provides consumers in megacities where scarcity of assets is an issue. Consumers are willing to pay more than in the past in order to save time where possible, which can be spent on activities with friends or family.

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Urbanisation in Ghana

Ghana is already seen as one of the early urbanisers in the continent of Africa and there are no signs so far that the growth of the Urban population will stop in the coming years. Combined with the economic growth of the country, the urbanisation will bring a lot of interesting opportunities. On the other hand is the question arising if the cities are prepared to handle the growth in terms of infrastructure, housing, employment, etc.


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Facts, Figures & Implications

  • Africa will replace Asia as the region with the highest urbanisation growth rate.
  • Kumasi and Accra are the biggest cities at the moment. They hold 40% of the total urban population
  • The urbanisation rate of Ghana is projected to increase from 54% (2015) till 72% by 2035
  • With this rate of Urbanisation the Ghanaian cities will face serious problems in terms of employment,


The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) is the most influential region in the country and is responsible for 25% of the GDP and for attracting more then 80% of all the FDI in the country. The region is also responsible for more than one third of the urban employment.


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Urbanisation and mobility in Ghana

The key challenge Ghana’s urban transformation is to ensure that the urbanisation equals improvement. In order to achieve this a sufficient infrastructure will be necessary. Improved roads, traffic signs and public transport will be essential to handle the burden of all increased traffic. So, urbanisation will force the big cities in Ghana to explore improvements and possible redesign for the city’s infrastructure.


Ghana Bamboo Bikes

The Ghana Bamboo bike is an initiative that addresses a lot of societal problems like the treat of climate change, poverty and the rural- urban migration by creating jobs with the manufacturing of high quality socio-ecological bamboo bikes in Ghana


The rise of the megacities will bring a lot of challenges and changes the way consumers think about mobility. With the changing needs smart initiatives have to respond to this need on a continuous base. An example of one of these initiatives which is responding to the changing need is the Ghana Bamboo Bike initiative.

The Ghana Bamboo Bike is an initiative which aims to solve different societal problems in Ghana. The bikes are useful means of transport in big cities like Accra and are built with solid materials which can easily handle the bumpy terrain and rough roads in Ghana. But that is not the only problem that Ghana Bamboo bike is trying to address. The socio-ecological green bikes are good for the environment, provide jobs and fight against poverty. By dividing the profit in a fair way between their employees they offer young Ghanaians an opportunity to built a life. The sustainable social enterprises of Ghana Bamboo Bike are aiming to have an social, economic and environmental impact on Ghana. The Ghana Bamboo Bike is just one of the initiatives that is reacting on the changing needs of the city and the demand from their citizens.

The fact of preferring having access to instead of owning a mode of transport is crucial regarding understanding customer needs towards mobility in the cities. Citizens just want to get from point a to point b as fast as they can with the least amount of effort and it is the job of organizations and the government to facilitate in tools to support this need. Urbanisation will bring a lot of challenges for the infrastructure and the modes of transport in cities. We think that the key in this trend will be an optimal way of use of the available space in the most effective way possible. Thinking out of the box and knowing customer needs before they do will be of great value.

Urbanisation and housing in Ghana

The continuing urbanisation in Ghana comes with residential relocations in order to create new housing opportunities for the Ghanaian population. Various project developers are acquiring land in urban areas to stimulate the housing development. Challenges for Ghana will be the planning of land use, optimizing the construction and monitoring the construction to guarantee the quality of the houses. Especially in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) these challenges will be key in order to handle the overcrowding, project developers try to use the high demand in their advance by building fast and at low cost. This could influence house quality.

Case in point: On-demand house cleaning

Domestly is a platform in South Africa which brings supply and demand for housecleaning together. Everyone who wants to have a clean space can use the platform to subscribe to a cleaning service. Everyone looking for a job can sign up as a cleaner and members of the platform can rate and review them.

Urbanisation and mobility

The growing cities, changing needs and growing population bring a lot of opportunities and challenges. Everyday live in the city will become even more busy than it is today and combined with ambitious people this will lead to the fact that time becomes even more precious. Urban citizens prefer to save time where possible to spend it on other things. Domestly is a platform that provides in that demand by offering an on-demand housecleaning service.

Domestly is a platform that kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand the application delivers an accessible and affordable cleaner and as such provides people with a clean house. On the other hand the app is creating jobs for a part of the population. The amount of jobs created by urban applications will have a positive effect on unemployment rates. This will contribute to the increasing middle class which will be more demanding when it comes to their living space. The fact that people look for smart ways to save time in an affordable and accessible way will be seen a lot in the megacities. The shortage of time to clean the house for housekeepers is a nice opportunity for apps like Domestly.

The overcrowding in the cities puts the pressure on the field of housing, providing in a place to live will be key. Access to will become more important than ownership with regard to housing in the cities. Smart solutions regarding the use of space will be crucial. Platforms to share living and working spaces, like Airbnb will try to provide in that demand but also an efficient use of the space in house will be an aim of project developers in the coming years. The scarcity of the good and the high demand for living space will not necessarily attribute to the value for money.