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.



Social and environmental vulnerabilities

Madagascar has relatively high poverty levels, with 52 per cent of the urban population living below the poverty line (Table 4.5). In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 31.4 per cent of the population was unemployed in 2008. 41 In Malawi, around 24 per cent of Blantyre’s population live in poverty. 42 Inequality in the sub-region’s cities is generally high and in 2003, Addis Ababa had an income Gini coefficient of 0.61 and a consumption Gini coefficient of 0.56 (Table 4.6). Surveys on 17 towns around Lake Victoria found that inequalities in these towns resembled those of capital cities, indicating that poverty is largely spread evenly throughout the urban domain. 43 This suggests that poverty and inequality levels are largely comparable in Eastern African cities.


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