The Millennium Cities Initiative is a project of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, which acts as an urban counterpart to the Millennium Village project, designed to assist seven mid-sized cities across sub-Saharan Africa in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The Initiative will initially focus on policy analysis, with a view toward promoting foreign direct investment, creating employment, stimulating domestic enterprise development and fostering economic growth. In addition to helping to engender a climate in which foreign investment can thrive, the initiative will help the Millennium Cities carry out needs assessments in a wide array of social sectors, the data from which will then be used to develop and implement integrated City Development Strategies that are explicitly based on the Millennium Goals.
The Initiative will take place in the following cities:
- Kisumu, Kenya: Kenya's third largest city (est. 500,000), situated on the Kavirondo Gulf, an arm of Lake Victoria, Kisumu is a regional hub with the potential to become the leading commercial, industrial and administrative center in the Lake Victoria Basin
- Blantyre, Malawi: Malawi’s most populous city (est. 750,000), Blantyre is also the country’s main commercial and industrial center, with road, rail, and air links to all parts of the country and rail links to Indian Ocean ports in Mozambique
- Kumasi, Ghana: With a population of 1.2m (daytime ca. 2m), Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region and Ghana’s northern hub
- Akure, Nigeria: Akure, population 350,000, is the capital of Ondo State, the largest state in Nigeria’s southwest and in the Yoruba cultural region
- Bamako, Mali: Bamako (pop. 1.3m), Mali’s administrative and economic capital, is a river port and regional trade center located on the Niger River, in the southwest of the country
- Segou, Mali: the prestigious capital of the ancient Bambara kingdom, located at the heart of West Africa on the banks of the Niger River
- Louga, Senegal: With a population of roughly 120,000, Louga is the smallest of the Millennium Cities
- Kaduna, Nigeria: Kaduna State was home to the ancient civilization known as the Nok culture, dating back to between 90BC-500AD, and to Queen Amina of Zazzau, who was noted for stepping where men dared not.
- Mekelle, Ethiopia: Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region, is the largest city in northern Ethiopia and the sixth largest in the country, covering 28 square kilometers, with an estimated population of 175,000.
Overall, the Initiative will demonstrate, through its research and policy analysis, that more international investment can be attracted to regional urban centers in sub-Saharan Africa, with the resulting beneficial employment and economic growth effects. The urban development strategies produced by and for the Millennium Cities themselves will apprise municipal and national governments and their donors of the accurate, actual costs of achieving the Millennium Goals.