The Materials Book

259 to indicate that the time of the “big man” African leader is passing, and it may be safe to say that citizens of African countries are learning to better live with themselves in what Achille Mbembe describes as the “postcolony.” 2 This shift in the meaning and agency of citizenship brings both the demand for and the opportunity of delivering on the promise of access to a dignified life. This is a life in which access to basic necessities, such as food, clean water, shelter, health care, and schooling, are guaranteed by society and with acceptable levels of risk of failure. Moreover, this shift means that social institutions are likely to focus on matters of access to social justice by citizens. In the context of the present discussion, this means more housing, hospitals, schools, and roads. But as this development takes place, it is important to consider the ways in which we retain concepts of human dignity as a central value in mediating the allocation of state resources in response to contending social priorities. 3 Infrastructure Materials Demand and Utilization There is already evidence that the demand for infrastructure materials is increasing throughout Africa. Reports indicate that from 2014 to 2019 demand for cement in Africa and the Middle East grew at an annual rate of 5.5 percent, 4 the highest in the world. Ethiopia is also predicted to become the fastest-growing country in the world over the next three years, and the government of Kenya has earmarked $55.6 billion for infrastructure development. 5 It is clear that, as the pace of large concrete infrastructure development has slowed in Europe and North America, the center of activity shifted eastward (India, Southeast Asia, and China) and is now showing signs of growth in a number of sub-Saharan countries. This raises the question as to how such demand can be met without replicating the unsustainable approaches used in other parts of the world. While traditional factors like economic efficiency and technical suitability must remain important in the selection and utilization of materials, African countries have the potential advantage of drawing on the lessons learned in other countries with regard to the environmental consequences of infrastructure-materials usage, ensuring a more sustainable approach to social and economic development. This includes additional factors such as opportunities for reuse, alternative local materials that offer CO 2 reduction, and climate-sensitive architectural design and urban planning. The Role of Materials Science and Engineering Education Higher-education programs in the area of infrastructure materials should aim to