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.



Emerging issues

Climate change projections for the sub-region (see Section 3.3) indicate growing uncertainty in making predictions, especially for rainfall patterns, floods and droughts. The sub-region’s largely coastal urban populations live in high density, often low-lying and vulnerable areas.218 Floods occur regularly, with cities unprepared for the scale and degree of their destruction. Poor catchment management exacerbates vulnerability to extreme events while weather variability introduced by climate change is exacerbating these. Mali, Mauritania and Sudan are extremely vulnerable to climate change-induced droughts, yet this vulnerability may well extend to other countries, affecting cities such as Bamako, Dakar, Douala, Lagos, Niamey and Ouagadougou.


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