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The State of African Cities 2014

Re-Imagining Sustainable Urban Transitions

image of The State of African Cities 2014
The African continent is currently in the midst of simultaneously unfolding and highly significant demographic, economic, technological, environmental, urban and socio-political transitions. Africa’s economic performance is promising, with booming cities supporting growing middle classes and creating sizable consumer markets. Despite significant overall growth, the continent continues to suffer under very rapid urban growth accompanied by massive urban poverty and many other social problems. These seem to indicate that the development trajectories followed by African nations since post-independence may not be able to deliver on the aspirations of broad based human development and prosperity for all. This report, therefore, argues for a bold re-imagining of prevailing models in order to steer the ongoing transitions towards greater sustainability based on a thorough review of all available options. That is especially the case since the already daunting urban challenges in Africa are now being exacerbated by the new vulnerabilities and threats associated with climate and environmental change.

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Urban culture and change agents

Socioculturally, economically and demographically, a variety of active and potential agents for change exist in Eastern African cities. Faith-based organizations, social, political and creative youth movements, civil society, the private sector and government agencies all occupy social and economic spaces where they provide services, run projects, develop community capacity and skills. A range of possibilities converge in different urban spaces, where networks of people come together around common socioeconomic and political causes, economic and community activities, community regulation functions (e.g. informal policing) and creative pursuits. All are important in generating a diverse social base that can respond to the wide range of changes that urban Eastern African society is undergoing.

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