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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 social and environmental vulnerabilities

With per capita greenhouse gas emissions comparable to many developed nations, RSA occupies an ambiguous position in the North-South debates as both climate change perpetrator and victim.39 Although industrialized nations clearly have a critical role to play in mitigating greenhouse gases and while adaptation should be the key priority for Southern African cities, expanding urban centres such as Gaborone, Harare and Maputo are generating increasing carbon emissions through their various energy intensive activities and they too need to accept a role in mitigation. Some local governments are beginning to recognize this.

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