Thanks to Urbanization, Tomorrow's Megalopolises Will Be in Africa and Asia

Tokyo will still be the world’s largest city in 2030, but it will have many more contenders on its heels. According to a fascinating new report from the United Nations, the globe will have 41 “mega-cities” -- defined as those with 10 million or more inhabitants -- up from 28 now. Although the world’s largest urban centers have historically been concentrated in the developed world, fast-paced urbanization in Africa and Asia means that the megalopolises of tomorrow will be found in the developing world.

By 2030, Asia and Africa will host nine of the world’s 10 largest cities, according to the report. China, home to six mega-cities, is projected to grow to seven. It will also add six cities between 5 and 10 million people by then. Indian city population growth will explode too. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad are expected to become “mega-cities,” giving India seven cities with more than 10 million people. In Africa, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Johannesburg in South Africa, and Luanda in Angola are expected to join the ranks of the continent’s other mega-cities, Cairo, Kinshasa, and Lagos.

North America, Latin America, and Europe will remain the world’s most heavily urbanized regions but Africa and Asia will catch up in the decades beyond 2030. Africa and Asia are home to 90 percent of the world’s rural population. However, as more people urbanize, that figure will shrink dramatically. By 2050, 56 percent of Africans and 64 percent of Asians will live in cities. Asia will account for the largest growth in the sheer number of city dwellers, but Africa will urbanize at a faster rate.

In total, urbanization in Africa and Asia will add 2.5 billion people to the world’s cities. India -- home to the world’s largest rural population -- is projected to see a 37 percent increase in its urban population. India, China, and Nigeria -- the three countries with the world’s highest urbanization rates -- are projected to add 404 million, 292 million, and 212 million, respectively, to their urban populations. Alone, these three countries will add 908 million people to the world’s cities.

These trends reflect the rapid urbanization process that has been taking place over the last 60 years. In the 1950s, 70 percent of the world’s population lived in rural areas, with less than one-third in urban centers. Over the coming decades, the reverse will be true, with two-thirds of the world population living in urban areas by 2050.

Graphics: Ed Johnson/ FP



History’s Most Pointless App Will Tell You About Rocket Strikes in Israel

The popular mobile app "Yo" has been described as the most pointless tech start-up to recently receive major funding. The idea is like a parody of post-modern life: An app for "post-text" communication that does nothing but send the message "yo" to your friends. That's it -- and it has $1 million in funding. Now, it's been reimagined as a tool in Israel's war against Hamas.

Developed by Israeli coders, Red Alert complements the army's warning sirens that alerts Israelis to incoming rockets. Now, Red Alert has partnered with Yo to send "yo"s anytime a siren sounds in Israel. The idea is to use this form of "post-text" communication to keep users informed of events around Israel. Each time a rocket triggers the system, you get a "yo":

Israel and Hamas are trading shots across the Gaza border, leaving civilians on both sides in the crossfire. On Thursday, the death toll from Israeli strikes in Gaza rose dramatically, to 81. Meanwhile, images are circulating showing Israelis taking shelter from incoming rockets.

In Gaza, some civilians receive air strike warnings too -- from the Israeli Defense Forces. To mitigate civilian casualties the IDF will "knock on the roof" of its chosen target with a small explosive as a warning to the building's inhabitants to evacuate. The IDF also makes phone calls to warn civilians of an incoming strike.

The contrast between the ways Israeli and Palestinian civilians are informed of incoming strikes is representative of the conflict's asymmetry. Israeli forces exercise a level of information dominance that they are able to not only maintain a comprehensive warning system capable of plugging into a smartphone app but are also able to carry out strikes in civilian neighborhoods that are preceded by a telephoned warning. The latter speaks to the degree to which Israel is plugged in to the Palestinian phone system.

So far, no word on whether any enterprising developers are monitoring strikes in Gaza using Yo.

Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images