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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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Global change and implications for urban development

The urban development of any region will depend largely on changes in the global political economy. For a region integrated into the Mediterranean and the Arab worlds this is particularly valid. Although countries in Northern Africa have tended to insulate themselves politically and economically from each other, anxiously preserving most aspects of their sovereignty, they share a number of vulnerabilities. Whether oil-exporters or importers they remain hostage to fluctuations in energy prices. As food importers they are vulnerable to movements in global grain markets. As part of the Muslim world in the Middle East and Northern Africa, all were affected by the Arab Spring.

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