The State of African Cities 2014

Re-Imagining Sustainable Urban Transitions

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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.



Population and urbanization

For the purposes of this chapter, the Southern African sub-region includes nine countries: Angola1, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, the Republic of South Africa (RSA), Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, whose estimated combined population was 108.4 million in 2011. Of these, 52.0 million (48.0 per cent) lived in areas classified as urban and 56.4 million (52.0 per cent) rural (Figure 6.1).


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