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.



Western Africa: urban culture and change agents

Western African cities such as Douala and Lagos existed as important religious, commercial and trade centres centuries before colonialism but recently have been growing at rates disproportionate to their historical purpose. 162 In the 1960s, two-thirds of urban growth could be attributed to rural-urban migration, as well as the reclassification of smaller settlements which grew to urban size. By the 1990s, this had slowed to 30 per cent. 163 Migration patterns around the turn of the millennium also indicated significant urban-rural flows164 and a small slowdown in urban growth rates (see Section 3.1).


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