Kadi Duparc, the demographic challenge “an opportunity we can take thanks to young Africans’ reactivity, resilience, and creativity”
The versatility of Kadi Duparc, CEO of Sky Architect, turned her into a remarkable and remarked personality of her social and professional world. Kadi has a double degree. One in the national architecture and landscape school of Bordeaux and another in the Institute of political sciences of Paris, where she graduates in public management with a specialty in Africa. Dynamic, ambitious, undertaking, the young woman explains how urbanism can help Africa and her country, Ivory Coast, to face their future challenges.
As an urbanism expert, what solutions can big African cities find to improve their inhabitants’ quality of life?
For the land-use planning, the respect and the application of existing rules would already be the beginning of a solution. The congestion of the sidewalk restrains mobility and leads to accidents. The obstruction of the pipeline system also leads to sanitation problems. A real change in our conduct, us users, toward the urban space is necessary. That being said, populations need to benefit from basics services and equipment such as drinkable water, sanitation, or electricity. Without those services, alternative solutions, informal wiring, or makeshift sewer will generate insalubrity and insecurity in urban areas. The conception of tomorrow’s African cities must integrate more intelligently, with ensembles’ harmony. Building mixt neighborhoods with housing, working space, markets, and leisure will drastically reduce the need for urban mobility.
How could more organized urbanization in African megalopolis lead to the rise of Africa?
Broad question! A better conceived and organized urbanization is a way to be more efficient economically. The time saving generated by optimal mobility affects productivity. For example, the congestion costs 19 billion dollars to Lagos, in Nigeria, every year. This African Development Bank’s estimate teaches us about the emergency of standardized urbanization. And beyond economic efficiency, there are also other needs like sanitary and ecologic ones.
To answer those issues, you use a particular tool: Skyecolab. Could you tell us more about it?
Skyecolab is the pot of our creativity and an exchange and experimentation space. It is formed by a multidisciplinary team composed of architects, engineers, technicians, urbanists, landscapers, but also artists, sociologists, designers, writers, photographers, civil society… Africa has an abundance of resources and materials that must inspire us to conceive innovative and sustainable projects. So we have to transform our environment into an opportunity to limit and avoid the import of expensive and less adapted materials. Today our challenge is to conceive multi-dimensional projects with social responsibility. It is also a real will to contribute to building better living conditions for our populations.
You also are engaged in women’s cause in Ivory Coast. How architecture and urbanism can help to go in this way?
I advocate for more gender equity across the continent. This equity is the condition to create a real emergence. In my work, I can see that architecture and urbanism can be exclusion factors linked to disability, age, or gender. Numerous women are victims of discrimination because their mobility and security needs are ignored. For example, a nursery next to a woman’s working place allows her to be more available and efficient. Create an architectural project is knowing, understanding, and integrating everybody’s daily life, women included, to find a better answer to their issues. Today, villages in Africa or India can’t provide intimate spaces for young girls. It may seem trivial, but getting a place to change during menstruation is an essential and natural necessity. In those villages, young girls give up on school when they reach 12 years old because of this reason. It would be sufficient to create a little place next to dry toilets. Those little things can produce remarkable effects for pursuing a professional path and the public space’s appropriation.
You also support young people and young girls in their projects. What do you teach them?
I aim to show them that I’m not an exception. They can bring something, get a carrier in sectors like housing, construction, and more widely sectors traditionally and unfairly perceived as men sectors. I encourage them to dare everything and refuse every limit. It is essential that girls could give free rein to reach their dreams and realize themselves personally and professionally since those two things are perfectly compatible. As the president of the Empow’her organization in Ivory Coast, I’m working on the empowerment and the emerging of a new women entrepreneurs’ generation without any complex. Their emancipation is essential, and I’m trusting this new generation of women ready to undertake.
Are you part of those who are optimistic about Africa for this coming century?
Absolutely! Challenges are enormous, but the issues are exciting! I’m optimistic. There is a demographic challenge to face, mainly with this growing urbanization. This is a challenge and an opportunity we can take thanks to young Africans’ reactivity, resilience, and creativity. On another issue, good governance is a necessary pre-condition to give a better socio-economic fulfillment to this new generation. In the same spirit, a real inclusion and support policy around entrepreneurship can slow down illegal immigration. Despite our development delay, Africa can emerge. We need to draw from what is working in other African countries and learn how to take ideas in Africa’s creative and cultural genius.
What are your future projects and ambitions?
More than projects or ambitions, I have a dream! I’m working on realizing this dream with Sky Architectes and other organizations I’m involved in: contributing to the transformation of my continent, starting with my country, Ivory Coast. By 5 to 10 years, we hope to deploy in twenty abandoned and isolated villages, a pack of social pieces of equipment composed of classrooms, multi-purpose hall, library, access to solar energy. A health care and civil registration campaign will be organized for stateless kids. Education and training will contribute to a new start for young adults and their mothers in those living spaces. My big ambition is to pursue my supporting towards women entrepreneurs, whatever their backgrounds, so they can be free and do what they want to do.
Ce message est également disponible en : French