Tuesday, March 23, 2010


According to United Nations predictions, for the first time in history, over 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities rather than in rural areas. This social statistics is expected to become real by 2030. Between 2007 and 2050, the global urban population is forecast to increase by 3.1 billion, passing from 3.3 billion to 6.4 billion. While Africa is projected to have its urban population increase by 900 million, Lagos is particularly rated as one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, thus ranking as one of the top twenty-five (25) Mega cities in the world today.

There are many criteria used in defining a mega city. A mega city can be defined as a metropolitan area with a total population that exceeds 10 million people. It also refers to a city chacterised by rapid economic growth coinciding with a high poverty rate, crime and other social problems. A mega city can be a single metropolitan area or two or more metropolitan areas that converge upon one another. Thus, the term Conurbation is used to describe the latter. One of the challenges of mega cities is the difficulty in accurate population estimation.

In 1950, New York was the only urban area with a population of over 10 million worldwide. By 1985 the number of such cities rose to nine, but in 2004, Geographers identified 25 of such areas. The world’s most populous mega city today is Tokyo, which has more than 40 percent of its country’s entire population. According to the 2007 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, “It is expected that in 2025 Tokyo will still be the world’s most populous urban agglomeration, with 36 million inhabitants.” Meanwhile, the population of Lagos, which has grown from about 300,000 in 1950 to about 14 million in 2007, is estimated by the Nigerian government to expand to 25 million by 2020.

The world’s mega cities face the challenges of urbanization which include illegal settlement caused by massive rural-urban drift that results in residential shanties or slums being built around and within the metropolis. Such characteristic tendency contributes to political, social and economic degradation, which most mega cities face. For example, most urban slums have little or no access to qualitative education, health care and employment opportunities. Thus, the slum dwellers become instigators of social problems that trickle inevitably into the city.

In the case of Lagos, to ameliorate the negative effects of rural-to-urban drift on the growth and development of the state, the Lagos State government has been implementing different programs calculated to perpetuate the maintenance of Lagos State as a mega city. Different recreational parks as well as serene landscapes have been constructed to replace the obtrusive dumps in the city. Modern business districts have replaced the illegal roadside traders’ sheds that also used to double as hide-outs for hoodlums and other social miscreants especially at night. An imaginatively functional transport system called “BRT” has also been introduced to ease the public transport system in Lagos, thus contributing to the growth of economic activities in the state. In the process of implementing these projects, job opportunities were created invariably for the unemployed in the society.


1 Tokyo Japan
2 New York United States
3 Seoul South Korea
4 Mumbai India
5 Mexico City Mexico
6 Delhi India
7 Sao Paulo Brazil
8 Los Angeles United States
9 Cairo Egypt
10 Shangai China
11 Osaka Japan
12 Kolkata India
13 Metro Manila Philippines
14 Jakarta Indonesia
15 Karachi Pakistan
16 Guangzhou China
17 Buenos Aires Argentina
18 Moscow Russia
19 Tehran Iran
20 Beijing China
21 Dhaka Bangladesh
22 Rio de Janeiro Brazil
23 London United Kingdom
24 Istanbul Turkey
25 Lagos Nigeria
List Source: Th. Brinkhoff: The Principal Agglomerations of the World

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