Congestion is reducing quality of life in Lagos and this may get worse

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As predicted years ago by the United Nations, the population of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve is now over 20 million. But despite its huge population, it has a land area of only 738 km2, equaling a population density of 13,405/km2. Unlike Lagos, Gary, one of its sister cities in the United States, has just 621.7 persons per square kilometer.

The current rate of population growth in Lagos is fast becoming a significant burden to the well-being of its people. Poverty is spreading, sanitation is worsening and the city suffers a lot of pollution. Traffic congestion in the city is one of the worst in the world. But this is just starting; Africa’s population is estimated to double to 2.4 billion by 2050. If more than 10 percent of the continent’s current population is from Nigeria and more than 10 percent of Nigeria’s population is from Lagos, there is a fair idea of what the population of Lagos could be in the next three decades. Sadly, development over the years has not matched population growth, leaving a strain on the available infrastructure which is largely inadequate to serve the people living in the former Nigerian capital.

Although Lagos, which has a higher GDP than Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, attributes its high internally generated revenue (about $116 million monthly) to its large population; an out of control population will not enable quality living if resources are overstretched. It, therefore, came as no surprise to many Lagosians that the city was ranked as one of the least livable cities in the world, finding itself in the midst of war-torn cities like Damascus and Tripoli.

Albeit not the only port city in Nigeria, Lagos has the most preferable sea port for importers and hosts the head offices of most financial institutions and major corporations. It is also the centre of the Nigerian music and movie industry, and the only Nigerian state where the economy thrives without the federal government. People, therefore, troop into Lagos daily from within and outside Nigeria for several purposes, from business engagements to exhibitions, job search and even begging. Decongesting the city may be hard, as long as its status as the commercial nerve of Nigeria remains. But the number of people living in the city can be reduced gradually.

Cost of living in the city has done little or nothing to discourage people from trooping in. For those who cannot afford the ridiculously expensive houses in the city, the suburbs become a choice place of abode. Now occupied to its capacity, population in Lagos suburbs is spilling over to neighbouring state, Ogun. Many people working in Lagos who cannot afford the unreasonably high rent in the city or its congestion, live outside the state, usually in houses they own. While this would have solved the problem of congestion in Lagos, bad transport infrastructure has discouraged several others from living outside the city.

“I live at Mowe [Ogun State] and I work at Victoria Island,” Mr. Tinubu, a driver at a commercial bank told me. “I spend a total of six hours or more in traffic sometimes. Imagine the stress I go through everyday but I have no choice; I can’t afford a house close to where I work.”

Mr. Tinubu tells me that his colleague’s case is worse. “He comes from Ota [Ogun State] every day. He has a bus with which he carries passengers on the way. But besides the money he makes from that, I don’t envy him. He’s not living well at all.”

Mr. Tinubu and his friend’s situation would not be strange in Europe where a man went as far as Spain to live when he found out London where he worked would be too costly to live.

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A recent research lays credence to Mr Cookey’s claim.  Cookey told BuzzFeed that the trip takes 5 ½ hours. An average Lagosian sometimes spends more time on the road daily.

The solution to the overpopulation of Lagos does not lie with Lagos alone; Nigeria has to remember its former capital.

“The sheer human traffic that daily throng Lagos for business certainly calls for additional allocation of resources to the state to absorb the pressure,” writes a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola.

“Part of what the federal government should do to redress the issue is to pay priority attention to road construction and rehabilitation and other social amenities in Lagos,” he adds.

The government should also focus on improving the transportation network in and around Lagos, as this will encourage many who cannot afford the city to live in nearby towns. Imagine a high-speed rail network that links towns in Osun, Oyo and Ogun States to Lagos.

Andre Dzikus, Coordinator of the Urban Basic Services Branch (UBSB) of the UN-Habitat also offers solutions to congestion in Lagos.

“Better integration of land-use and transport planning can result in compact and walkable city forms reducing the need for travel. Policies to promote this should be adopted,” he said.

But Lagos is far from ending its congestion challenge. According to the World Bank, Africa will have an additional 300 million urban residents in the next two decades. By 2050, 60 percent of all Africans will live in an urban area. More people are going to move to Lagos, especially with the slow pace of urbanization in other parts of Nigeria.

 

The Nerve Africa

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Ending malaria will save Africa $12bn yearly

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From the Anopheles to the Culex, mosquitoes do the world more bad than good and it may not be a totally bad idea eradicating them. Think dengue feverchikungunyayellow fever and malaria; all spread by mosquitoes. Malaria alone costs Africa $12 billion per year.

At least one million people die from malaria each year, 90 percent of which comes from sub-Saharan Africa. 70 percent of the deaths are of children less than five years old — equivalent to one child dying every 30 seconds. About 40% of these deaths occur in just two countries; Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. People may even be dying from malaria more than we know as the World Health Organisation (WHO) admitted in 2006 that malaria deaths are the hardest to count. We have mosquitoes to blame for this carnage; they are the vectors of Plasmodium falciparum and its relatives causing malaria. They are also responsible for carrying viruses causing yellow fever, dengue fever, among others. We need to stop them!

British Scientists might have found a way. They developed a genetically modified species of mosquitoes that produce just male offspring.In lab tests by Imperial College London researchers, they modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males.

The genetic method, details of which was published in the journal Nature Communications in 2014 distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, one of the most efficient malaria vectors known, and the main transmitters of the malaria parasite.

In the first laboratory tests, the method created a fully fertile mosquito strain that produced 95 percent male offspring. These were introduced to five caged wild-type mosquito populations. According to the study, in four of the five cages, this eliminated the entire population within six generations, because of the lack of females.

If this could be replicated in the wild, there is hope that the malaria-carrying mosquito population would crash and someday become extinct.

But American Public Health entomologist Grayson Brown is not a fan of mosquito genocide. In answering one of the questions asked about mosquitoes on a forum on Gawker Media’s io9. Brown wrote: “If mosquitoes went extinct: Mosquito larvae are very important in aquatic ecology. Many other insects and small fish feed on them and the loss of that food source would cause their numbers to decline as well. Anything that feeds on them, such as game fish, raptorial birds, etc. would in turn suffer too.”

Many birds and other insects eat mosquitoes, and many fish eat mosquito larvae. Because mosquitoes are so numerous, their extinction would in the short term affect these species. However, even in the intermediate term, populations of other insects might increase to take advantage of the space vacated by mosquitoes, possibly providing an alternate food source for mosquito predators. Of course, ecosystems are complicated, and it is difficult to predict what the removal of one common species would do in the long run.

While ending the existence of mosquitoes will be a first choice for many Africans who not only suffer itchy skins or malaria but also sometimes have to endure the annoying hum of the insect, they are part of the ecosystem and they need to remain. This is because anything that alters the balance of the ecosystem threatens the health and existence of that ecosystem.

North America battled with Malaria decades ago, until it was eradicated in the early 1950’s. Mosquitoes were not annihilated. In fact, the mosquito that carried malaria parasite in the United States, Anopheles quadrimaculatus is still common today. What happened was that the specific strain of malaria that was well adapted to transmission by that mosquito disappeared. This shows malaria can be eliminated without the guilt of ‘mosquitoral’ genocide.

Already, laudable efforts are on by several organizations across the globe to end the scourge. Since the turn of the millennium, prevention and control measures have increased, reducing global malaria mortality rates by 42 percent.

International disbursements for malaria control rose from $ 100 million in 2000 to $ 1.97 billion in 2013. But this is still billions away from the estimated $ 5.1 billion needed to fight malaria every year. Fighting malaria is a really good fight. For every £1 million ($1.5 million) spent on fighting malaria, we improve the African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £12 million ($18.3 million).

Vaccines may still be a dream (although the Mosquirix jab is ready) but the world has made gains in the fight against malaria through a combination of interventions, including timely diagnosis and treatment using reliable diagnostic tests and effective drugs; indoor spraying with safe, long-lasting insecticides; and the use of bed nets treated with long-lasting insecticide to protect people from mosquito bites at night.

According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “We have the opportunity to accelerate progress toward elimination [of malaria] in all countries by improving the delivery of existing interventions as well as developing new tools and new strategies that target not just malaria-transmitting mosquitoes but also the parasite itself […].”

The Nerve Africa

The billion-dollar game that helps you think and strategize

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“When I’m stressed, it helps me to calm down. When I need to think and strategize, a level does the magic. Even when I need to be relaxed enough to sleep, playing lulls me to sleep,” Mary told The Nerve.

The 24-year-old Administrative Officer at a Lagos, Nigeria-based Human Resources Consultancy says she could never forget the day a colleague introduced her to Candy Crush Saga — February 6, 2014. “Our love has grown stronger ever since.”

Mary, who asked that her last name should not be published, claims she is not ashamed of her “Candy Crush Saga”.

Although she plays at least thrice a week and spends an average of $5 a day to buy moves and lollipops, Mary J. insists she is not addicted to Candy Crush.

“I use the game to my advantage. It does not affect my productivity in any way.” However, she is now on level 808 and she says she isn’t bored yet. “I don’t even think there’s a chance.”

Mary is one of the millions of people around the world to have fallen in love with Candy Crush Saga, a match-three puzzle video game released by Irish social games company, King Digital Entertainment on April 12, 2012. The game is estimated to make $1,000,000 per day from its users, according to Appdata. In the last three months of 2013 alone, players spent $493 million on in-app purchases of extra moves, lives and power-ups, according to King’s IPO filing. The game has been downloaded more than 500 million times. The success of Candy Crush Saga reflects in King’s revenue which grew to $2.260 billion in 2014.

 

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More than 10% of the world’s GDP is lost to war and violence every year

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From Boko Haram insurgency and communal clashes in Nigeria to civil war in Somalia, Africa, like the rest of the world has incurred huge losses from war and violence.

Absolute peace is desirable but it seems to have eluded the world for centuries. But when there is war and violence, we all pay.

Infographics on World violence

Indirect costs associated with violence, as well as its huge human toll, cost the world’s economy upwards of $14 trillion each year. These costs include lost productivity due to conflict, falling levels of consumption and costs associated with homicides and terrorism. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2014 was estimated at $14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world GDP.

According to the 2015 Global Peace Index, a 10 percent reduction in global violence would inject $1.43 trillion into the global economy, enough to end world hunger.

Infographics on World violence

This first appeared on thenerveafrica.com

Bored of your 9 to 5 job? NASA is hiring astronauts and you could apply

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