Africa’s new cities

26th Jul 2017

Africa’s new cities: The contested future of urbanisation

A new paper by Femke van Noorloos and Femke van Noorloos is now available online


New private property investments in Africa’s cities are on the rise, and they often take the form of entirely new cities built up from scratch as comprehensively planned self-contained enclaves. As these new city-making trajectories are expanding and empirical research is emerging, there is a need to provide more conceptual clarity. We systematically examine the diversity of new cities in Africa; elicit their financial trajectories; and set an agenda for critically examining their actual and expected implications, by learning transnational lessons from debates on gated communities, peri-urban land governance and displacement, and older waves of new city building. Although most new cities are private-led projects, they are inserted into diverse and dynamic political economies with states ranging from developmentalist to neoliberal to absent. The consumptive and supply-driven character of many projects so far (resembling gated communities for middle and higher classes), their insertion into ‘rurban’ spaces with complex land governance arrangements, and their tendency to implement post-democratic private-sector-driven governance will make them at best unsuitable for solving Africa’s urban problems, and at worst they will increase expulsions and enclosures of the poor, public funding injustice and socio-spatial segregation and fragmentation.

You can access and read the full apper here

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