African countries want to learn from the experiences of Vietnam in urban development at a four-day international seminar that opened in Hanoi on Feb. 15.

"Like many other countries in the third world, African countries have experienced specific urban growth, due to the nature of the urbanisation process, it often involves young populations, an anarchical nature of settlement, a lack of investment and poor management and implementation," said head of the African delegation Samba Diouf.

Diouf added that important experience from countries like Vietnam will help African countries improve the ability to deal with their own urban development.

"Participants agreed that Asian and African countries were facing common and complex urban problems and prompt action under strong government initiatives were required to cope with these problems," said Hisatoshi Okubo, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency's Senegal Office.

The event is co-organised by the JICA in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and the Vietnam Urban Development and Planning Association.

At the event, participants heard about remarkable achievements in urban planning and management in Vietnam and discussed current urban planning problems facing African nations.

Delegations heard that Vietnam currently faces rapid urbanisation, population growth, an increasing gap between rich and poor, insufficient infrastructure and social services, traffic congestion and flooding issues.

"Facing the same challenges and difficulties, what Vietnam has learnt today will be a great help to African countries in planning future development," said vice director in charge of Hanoi Architecture and Urban Planning Bui Manh Tien.

Fully aware of the above issues, the Government of Vietnam has developed sustainable economic development policy, with a focus on green economic development.

Vietnam also encourages localities to actively conduct studies and exchange learning experiences with other countries about models for urban development and management.

According to the Vietnam Urban Development and Planning Association, Vietnam has set the highest pace for urbanisation in Southeast Asia , increasing from 19 percent in 1986 to 30.5 percent in 2010. As of 2010, there were a total of 755 cities and towns in Vietnam .

The seminar is a follow-up event linked to another seminar organised by JICA in Senegal in November 2011, which aimed to share experiences of urban development and planning issues among Asian and African countries.

The African delegation, with representatives from the Ivory Coast , Ghana , Mali and Senegal is scheduled to visit Linh Dam, known as a good example of urbanised land in Vietnam . They will also have a technical tour of Nam Son Waste Treatment Facility in the Soc Son suburban district of Hanoi./.