Saturday, April 27, 2013

Karachi is World's Fastest Growing Megacity

Karachi's population has grown 80.5% in the last decade, making it the world's fastest growing megacity, according to  recently released Demographia World Urban Areas Report.  Karachi is followed by Shenzhen, Lagos, Beijing, Bangkok, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Delhi, Jakarta and Istanbul.

Source: Demographia

Karachi is Huge:

The report says that Karachi is the world's 7th largest metropolis with an estimated population of nearly 21 million inhabitants packed in an area of 310 square miles, making it the 10th densest large city in the world. Demographia authors acknowledge that their estimate of Karachi's "population is lower than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which include metropolitan area population not within the continuously developed urban area".

KPT Flyover, Karachi 

Massive Influx of Migrants:

In addition to the normal migration patterns witnessed in the past, Karachi has also seen major influx of waves of refugees escaping conflict zones like FATA and Swat and many people displaced by natural disasters like the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. Karachi itself has now become a  major conflict zone with the growth of ethnic gangs supported by political bosses, and the arrival of the Taliban fighters along with the refugees from FATA and Swat. Poor governance of the city has further exacerbated the situation of Karachi's citizens.

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Clifton, Karachi
National Public Radio(NPR), an American radio network, started a series which it called "The Urban Frontier" beginning in 2008 on a massive wave of urbanization sweeping the world's emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India and Pakistan. It chose to start with Karachi, which it described as Pakistan's "economic lifeline" and financial and industrial "powerhouse" that produces 25% of Pakistan's GDP, and caled it "one of the largest and most crowded cities of the world". It did a segment on Shehri, the activist group fighting big-money developers. Much of what it said is still valid.

It highlighted several other facts about Karachi such as:

1. Karachi is built along a natural harbor facing the Arabian Sea, and this central location between the Middle East and India has made Karachi an important trading port for hundreds of years.

2. Karachi encompasses both its old seafront district and a sprawling web of commercial and residential development that covers almost 1,400 square miles. Its contemporary landscape spans skyscrapers, posh golf resorts, congested roadways and sprawling squatter colonies.

3. The Port of Karachi handles 60 percent of Pakistan's cargo, and the Karachi Stock Exchange is one of Asia's most active trading markets. The city's main industries include shipping, trade, finance, banking, information technology, manufacturing, real estate, fashion, media and education.

4. Like any big city, it has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, violence, corruption and political volatility are just some of the issues confronting the 12 million to 18 million "Karachiites" who call this overcrowded city home. Karachi is 60 times larger than it was when Pakistan was created in 1947. And with the population growing at an annual rate of 6 percent, one of the biggest challenges for city officials is managing the tensions and violence that often flare along ethnic and religious lines.

5. Karachi is growing so fast that estimates of its population range from 12 million to 18 million. The country's financial capital is also a city where about half the population lives in illegal houses.

Parallels With Chicago: 

 In "Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi", the author Steve Inskeep of NPR Radio draws parallels between the Chicago of 1950s and 1960s and the rapidly growing cities in the developing world like Mumbai (India), Karachi (Pakistan) and Port Harcourt (Nigeria) in the following words:

"Karachi was one of many growing cities made turbulent by ethnic politics. In recent years an ethnic political party has controlled Mumbai, India, imposing a regional language on the government of an aspiring world city. In the growing oil city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Internet cafes and churches line the commercial streets, while ethnic militias rule the backstreets and set neighborhoods on fire. None of this will surprise people who study the history of American cities. Chicago, for example, grew explosively from the 1830s onward--it was an instant city in its time--newcomers clustered defensively in their various neighborhoods. As late as the 1950s, immigrants and their children drew battle lines along major streets or railroad tracks.."

 Inskeep quotes newspaper columnist late Mike Royko of Chicago to make his point:

"There was...good reason to stay close to home and in your own neighborhood-town and ethnic state. Go that way, past the viaduct, and the wops will jump you, or chase you into Jew town. Go the other way, beyond the park, and the Polacks will stomp on you. Cross those streetcar tracks, and the Irish will shower you with confetti from the brickyards. And who can tell what the niggers might do?"

Karachi Offers Hope:

It does help to put in historical context the growing pains that Pakistan, and its largest city Karachi, are experiencing now. When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, violence, little kids working or begging, absence of sanitation, filthy water and air. However, there are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

Many of the potential benefits of urbanization will be hard to realize in Pakistan unless there is improved city governance and serious efforts to reduce the level of violence in Karachi.

Dolmen Mall Clifton Featured on CNN from DHAToday on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

World's Tallest Building Proposed in Karachi

Karachi Fashion Week 2013

Impact of Violence on Pakistan Elections 2013

Karachi-The Urban Frontier

MQM Worried By Karachi's Demographic Changes 
Karachi Tops World's Largest Cities 
Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance 
Eleven Days in Karachi 
Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big


Rehan said...

Riaz Sb, Really like your blogs and thought provoking article. Keep it up!

HopeWins Junior said...

A) 1998 Population of Karachi: 9,856,318

1) What was the population of Clifton in 1998?
2) What was the population of Defence in 1998?
3) What was the population living in authorized structures & katchi abadis in 1998?

B) 2011 Population of Karachi: 21,142,625

1) What is the current population of Clifton?
2) What is the current population of Defence?
3) What is the current population living in authorized structures & katchi abadis?


Karachi may well be the world's fastest growing megacity, but is the breakneck growth of population resulting in a disproportionate increase in "slums"?

Is Karachi the world's fastest growing slum population?

These are key questions that have to be answered.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Karachi may well be the world's fastest growing megacity, but is the breakneck growth of population resulting in a disproportionate increase in "slums"? Is Karachi the world's fastest growing slum population?"

Initially, most poor migrants who arrive in Karachi start with low-paying jobs and live in slums. Over time, many move up to middle class with better jobs and housing and their children do even better with greater opportunities offered by Karachi.

To illustrate this, let me give you the example of ANP's Senator Shahi Syed who drove a rickshaw and lived in slum when he first came to Karachi. Now, he lives in Mardan House, palatial home in Defense Society.

A recent book "Getting Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" is a similar rags to riches tale set in Lahore.

Read my other post titled "Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope" to understand better what I'm talking about.

Mo said...

Pakistan needs a sustainable urbanization as we cannot produce nor hold the China style urban gold rush anytime soon. Pakistan is a country famous for agriculture, what we should be planning for is "Rural Townships" with all of the modern facilities incorporated ie Banks,E.govt,Schools,E-labs,Postal/logistical and other state organs. If we are to, have sustainable growth, we would have to make our rural areas attractive for investment.

Anonymous said...

Even China has mounting problems with the rate of influx from the rural areas into its cities. Your idea to make rural areas attractive so that the people there are able to get good jobs is a good one.

Riaz Haq said...

China controls migration through hukuo permits.

A hukou is a record in the system of household registration required by law in the PRC.

The hukou system, which dates to 1958, has split China's 1.3 billion people along urban-rural lines, preventing many of the roughly 800 million Chinese who are registered as rural residents from settling in cities and enjoying basic urban welfare and services.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times story on KSE-100 closing over 19,000 points, record high:

KARACHI: The Karachi stock market closed at a historical high level of 19,000 points on Thursday as emerging clarity on timely elections compelled investors to take fresh positions.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index gained 52.11 points or 0.27 percent to close at 19,034.53 points as compared to 18,982.42 points of the previous session. The KSE 30-share index was up by 23.55 points to close at 14,664.29 points as compared with 14,640.74 points.

“With the emerging clarity on timely elections, investors continued to take fresh positions,” said Topline Sec dealer Samar Iqbal. “Fauji Fertilizer continued to rally after its result announcement.”

Investors remained skeptical on Engro Corp on gas supply issues, she said and added that telecom sector remained under pressure after heavy penalty by Competition Commission of Pakistan. Fauji Cement remained the volume leader with 26 million shares while its share price rose by 3.0 percent.

The market turnover went down by 24.43 percent and traded 147.36 million shares as against 195 million shares of the previous session. The overall market capitalisation gained 0.51 percent and traded Rs 4.687 trillion as against Rs 4.663 trillion. Gainers beat losers 225 to 148, while 22 stocks were unchanged.

“Stocks closed at a record-high level post-major earnings announcements for the quarter-end session at KSE led by second-tier stocks on strong valuations,” said Arif Habib Corporation Director Ahsan Mehanti. “Bullish sentiments prevailed amid thin trade after Consumer Price Index inflation for April stood at 5.8 percent.”

Higher local cement prices, recovery in global commodities and easing political concerns played a catalyst role in the bullish activity at KSE amid concerns over dismal earnings outlook for the banking sector....

HopeWins Junior said...

See this Worldbank PDF report on Turkey entitled 'Domestic Savings Essential for Sustainable Growth'

Start reading at the 15th Page (there are no page numbers, so that's the 15th page in the PDF file) and read for a few pages to see what it says.

Does the unsustainable consumption-led boom in Turkey remind you of something?

It should. It is the same as our consumption-led growth.

And all the things the file says about the IMPORTANCE of domestic savings for Turkey is JUST AS TRUE for our country.

There is no way around this. Our economy, like Turkey's, is headed for a LOT of trouble due to the collapse in our domestic savings rates-- even as everyone goes shopping with Saima Mohsin.

HopeWins Junior said...

There ARE page numbers. I was wrong.

Start reading at Page Number 1 (which is the 15th page in the PDF file)...

Riaz Haq said...

There are many misguided Pakistani writers who parrot nonsense about Pak population growth.

Larger population is in fact a blessing for Pakistan in terms of greater human capital and higher demographic dividend.

Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.

Dramatic declines in fertility are not necessarily good for society. In a book titled "The Empty Cradle", the author Philip Longman warns that the declining birth rates around the world will cause many social and economic problems. As a consequence of declining fertility, by 2050 the population of Europe will have fallen to what it was in 1950. Mr. Longman says this is happening all around the world: Women are having fewer children. It's happening in Brazil, it's happening in China, India and Japan. It's even happening in the Middle East. Wherever there is rapid urbanization, education for women and visions of urban affluence, birthrates are falling. Having and raising children is seen as an expense and a burden.

"So we have a "free rider" problem. You don't need to have children to provide for your old age -- but the pension systems need them." Says Longman, referring to the coming Social Security crunch as the number of retired people rises faster than the number of workers.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Karachi Hackathon:

Sabeen Mahmud has short-cropped hair and rectangular glasses; she’d fit right in hunched over a laptop at Philz or behind the counter at one of Apple’s Genius Bars. Her resume matches her style. She’s founded a small tech company, opened a hip coffee shop and organized a successful hackathon. But Mahmud doesn’t hail from the Bay – she lives in Karachi, a city more closely associated with extreme violence then entrepreneurs.

“Fear is just a line in your head,” Mahmud says. “You can choose what side of that line you want to be on.”

Mahmud represents something new in this ancient city. Mahmud “fell in passionately in love” with the first Mac she saw, teaching herself MacPaint and MacDraw in college in 1992, and devoting countless hours to Tetris. In 2006, Mahmud decided Karachi was sorely missing a space where people could gather around shared interests, an interdisciplinary space for collaboration and brainstorming. Despite the fact that in Pakistan, many women are not allowed to finish primary school, much less graduate from college and start their own company, she decided to start The Second Floor café, not letting the fact that she didn’t have any money or experience faze her. “I was living with my mother and my grandmother at the time,” she says, laughing. “I had done zero market research. I just hoped people would show up.”

People slowly have. The Second Floor now hosts four events a week, from poetry writings to live theater performances to forums on critical issues. Last month,the café hosted Pakistan’s first hackathon, a weekend-long event with nine teams focusing on solutions to civic problems in Pakistan ahead of last Saturday’s national election. “People are very disillusioned with mainstream politics right now,” Mahmud says. “We wanted to come up with a way to put that energy to use.”
Starting with 30 high-level problem areas, they whittled it down to nine specific issues that could be solved with concrete apps. “Not a single soul questioned that these problems could not be solved,” Ahmed says. “It was all a matter of selecting the right approach.”..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Harvard University report on an urban planning conference in Karachi:

...By January, however, the event had grown into a three-day conference on South Asian cities, attracting upward of 800 people, with concurrent sessions in large tents erected for the occasion in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

In addition to a Harvard delegation of seven, the conference drew urban design professionals, government officials, and academics from across Pakistan and elsewhere in South Asia, including India and Bangladesh. Tarun Khanna, director of Harvard’s South Asia Institute, said the event grew through regional collaboration and was symbolic of a “narrative of peace” that seeks to counterbalance the history of strife in the area.

Organizers said the conference was just the initial discussion in what they hope will be an ongoing conversation about the problems and opportunities confronting cities across the region. Further, officials at Harvard’s South Asia Institute (SAI) say the conference is both part of the Institute’s growing engagement with Pakistan and a sign of the enthusiasm of Pakistani partners for further collaboration.

SAI’s engagement is multifaceted and includes conferences and training programs in Pakistan, workshops, fellowships, and Pakistani students on Harvard’s campuses, as well as webinars spanning both locations, featuring Harvard faculty in Cambridge and viewed by students at dozens of Pakistani universities.

Meena Hewett, executive director of the South Asia Institute, said the Pakistan programs are an expression of the institute’s focus on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. Though India is the region’s largest country, it’s important, Hewett said, that the institute promote an agenda that encompasses all of South Asia.

In addition to fostering an understanding of the country itself, Pakistan has a lot to offer to the regional dialogue, Hewett said. Pakistan is the world’s sixth-most populous nation, with a long history and enormous diversity. It is struggling with many of the same issues as many of its neighbors, including urbanization, poverty, water security, public health, religious differences, and governance.

“Beyond the narrative of violence and terrorism, there is all this good development work going on,” Hewett said.

South Asia’s cities have a lot to learn from each other. While urban areas around the world are struggling with the same problems, the cities across South Asia share a “similar DNA,” Mehrotra said. That DNA has been instilled by shared regional history, including British colonization and enormous urban growth in the post-independence era. Among their commonalities, the region’s major cities are among the world’s largest, have undergone rapid demographic change in the last 30 years, and suffer from poor infrastructure and services, as well as a lack of political will to transform, Mehrotra said.
Jennifer Leaning, the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, delivered a keynote speech at the January conference on climate disasters and vulnerability, and participated in two other panels on disaster response and mental health. With funding from the Karachi-based Aman Foundation, Leaning is involved in a project to improve that city’s disaster preparedness and disaster-related mental health. Late last year, two Harvard Medical School faculty members conducted needs assessment and a training program in emergency preparedness for staff at Karachi hospitals.

Riaz Haq said...

Rs25,000/hour fare: Pakistan’s first helicopter tour service launched in Karachi
Reported by: `Monitoring Report December 17, 2014

KARACHI: Pakistan’s first ‘City Helicopter Tour’ service has been launched in the metropolis by the country’s only private jet and charter company, Princely Jets to give the citizen chance of enjoying VIP travel and panoramic view of the city.
Princely Jets CEO Ghouse Akbar said that the company was offering helicopter ride at a nominal fare of just Rs 25,000 and this was a common feature of tourism related services.
The Helicopter ride offers aerial sightseeing of the city’s natural environment and dramatic coastlines as well as major city land marks and operated by Princely Jets from its base at Karachi International Airport, each tour will last approximately 1 hour which includes a route briefing by the crew, refreshments and a 20 minute helicopter tour.
Ghouse said that they had approached different organisations including trade bodies, insurance companies, etc for its services but no positive response had been received so far. Moreover, he said that there was a huge potential in private air charter industry as only 20 private jets were operating in Pakistan as compared to India and Middle East, where around 400 and 1200 private jets were available for charter respectively.

Riaz Haq said...

Omar Shahid Hamid started off as a cop, and his decision to become one was deeply personal: When he was still in his teens, his father, a senior civil servant in Pakistan, was assassinated. "In the subsequent police investigation," he tells me via email, "I saw close up the good and bad points of the police in a country like Pakistan, where, due to a lack of institutions, what individuals did, good or bad, had a much greater impact on people's lives, than say, a cop working in London or New York. I joined the police because I felt the potential difference I could make was substantial."

Hamid went on to serve on Karachi's police force for 13 years. He's been on a sabbatical for the past four years, due to threats made against him by the Pakistani Taliban, and he's used those years to pen an exhilarating crime novel, The Prisoner, set in Karachi. Inspired by the real life kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, it centers on an American journalist who's gone missing, and the police and intelligence agencies who are trying desperately to find him as the Americans breathe down their necks.

Hamid's portrayal of the city, the police, and the byzantine political play is nuanced and sophisticated. Karachi is Pakistan's largest and most vibrant city, and he lays it bare as only someone who has lived and worked there could. Hamid says the point of the book was "to portray an image of the police that was realistic. Are they corrupt? Yes often. Are they used as pawns in bigger political games? Absolutely. But despite all of these restrictions and impositions, are they ordinary people who sometimes do extraordinary things? Absolutely."

The Prisoner contains some thinly veiled references to real people and political parties in Pakistan. You go to some lengths to explain their motivations and the moral ambiguities of their world, but you don't exactly flatter them, either. You were attacked on more than one occasion when you were in the police force — and yet you've chosen to write a book that has probably made no one happy. Why did you decide to do it?

It was interesting that when the book came out in Pakistan, the reaction from many people was of amazement. There were people who, despite having lived in the city for years, had no inkling of the world that existed. So overall, the feedback I have received has been one of enlightenment. Many people also said it helped to give them a more nuanced view of the trials and tribulations of ordinary cops and why they sometimes have to do what they do. I decided to write the book because I felt that when I joined the police, the police was a body with so many fascinating stories, but no one to tell them, because the world of the police was very fraternal and tight, so outsiders had no ingress into the kinds of internal stories we possessed, while I, as an insider, had a unique perspective to share those stories with the outside world.

I was particularly intrigued by your protagonist, Constantine D'Souza, who's a Christian. How did you choose him? Christians only make up a tiny percentage in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim country.

I thought making one of the protagonists Christian would be an interesting plot line. In my time in the service, I knew several Christian police officers, and I found it fascinating to think about how they were perceived and how they perceived the culture of the society and the police. The most interesting insight was that Christians in the police did not necessarily come across as an oppressed minority.

Riaz Haq said...

49 of world's 50 most violent cities in #Americas plus #CapeTown in #Africa. No #Pakistan cities. via @TheEconomist

THE thorny task of comparing crime rates across the world is tricky because legal interpretations vary. Sweden's definition of rape is not the same as America’s, for example. Murder however should be easier to record because there is an identifiable victim, something that can be counted. But the way in which this is done in poorer, often more corrupt countries makes truly comparable statistics hard to pin down. Where there are inefficient public health systems or police, it is even harder. It is in such places that best estimates must be made—Venezuela is a case in point. We recently reported the latest annual ranking of 2015's most violent cities in the world (excluding war zones) by CCSP-JP, a Mexican NGO. The report placed Caracas, Venezuela's capital, at the top of a list of 50 cities (with populations of at least 300,000) with the highest homicide rates.

Crime statistics in Venezuela have not been officially measured since 2009 however, and are underreported according to experts. Where no official figures exist, CCSP-JP is transparent in its methodology: for Caracas it counted bodies from the city morgue (which covers a larger area than the city itself) between January and August, discounted a percentage attributed to accidental deaths, and extrapolated an amount for the full year to get a rate of 120 homicides per 100,000 people. The approach is obviously open to error and several groups have challenged some of CCSP-JP’s findings. One, the Igarapé Institute—a Brazilian think-tank on security and violence—compiles statistics on murder rates in countries and on more than 2,100 cities with populations of 250,000 or more, compared with the CCSP-JP's ‘hundreds’. Their data are only gathered from primary sources such as government, police or vital registration data, and from recognised sources such as the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime. In the above chart we present an alternative ranking which includes Igarapé’s findings using figures no older than 2013.

The broad picture in the rankings is roughly similar, however. Latin American and Caribbean countries suffer disproportionately compared with elsewhere, mainly because of inequality, poor rule of law, impunity and corrupt institutions that are infiltrated by drug cartels. Only two countries outside the region feature on either chart, South Africa and the United States (the list’s only rich-world country). Two US cities*—St Louis and Baltimore—appear on the latest ranking compared with four previously. The good news is that there has been a general decline in violence across the world everywhere except in Latin America. And even within the region, many of the worst cities in Mexico and Colombia are not as bad as they once were. Yet that is cold comfort to the residents of El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's #Shanghai Electric to invest $9 billion in #Pakistan for #KElectric #Karachi upgrades | ET EnergyWorld

Karachi: China's Shanghai Electric plans to spend $9 billion overhauling electricity infrastructure in Karachi, a minister told AFP, just months after the multinational revealed it was buying a Pakistan power company.
China is ramping up investment in its South Asian neighbour as part of a $46 billion project unveiled last year that will link its far-western Xinjiang region to Pakistan's Gwadar port with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.

In a presentation made to Pakistani authorities, Shanghai Electric said it would invest an average of $700 million a year until 2030 to increase capacity, improve cabling and target bill defaulters.

"The investment would be utilised in distribution, generation, transmission" and training, Miftah Ismail, minister for state and chairman of Pakistan's Board of Investment told AFP on Wednesday.

The investment would also aim to tackle widespread electricity theft and other losses that cost about $269 million a month in the city, partly by replacing above-ground grid stations with underground ones.

Shanghai Electric announced in August it would buy a majority stake in K-Electric, which is owned by Abraaj Group of Dubai, for $1.7 billion, which would be Pakistan's biggest ever private-sector acquisition.

K-Electric, formerly known as Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation, supplies electricity to more than 2.2 million households and commercial and industrial consumers.