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Africa’s smaller cities are usually overlooked: they shouldn’t be

Africa’s smaller cities are usually overlooked: they shouldn’t be

OFTEN when one thinks or writes about urbanisation in Africa, mega-cities or primary cities like Lagos, Nairobi, Addis Ababa or Kampala, come to mind. Little, however, is written about places like Gabés in Tunisia, Touba-Mbacké in Senegal, or Ibadan in Nigeria. Yet these are just three of an estimated 885 secondary, or intermediary, cities in Africa that already account for over 40% of the continent’s urban population. Their share is very likely to grow over time. Author ASTRID R.N. HAAS, Fellow, Infrastructure Institute, School of Cities, University of Toronto These cities have a critical role to play in Africa’s overall…
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Africa’s urban planners face huge corruption pressures: some answers

Africa’s urban planners face huge corruption pressures: some answers

CORRUPTION is commonly defined as the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. Understanding and tackling corruption at the city-scale is crucial because cities are increasingly becoming home to much of the global population. According to the United Nations, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. The fastest urban growth is happening in Africa and Asia. Author LAURA NKULA-WENZ, Lecturer and Researcher at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town In our Cities of Integrity project, we worked with urban planners and their respective professional bodies in South Africa and Zambia.…
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Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit: why it’s been a long, bumpy ride

Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit: why it’s been a long, bumpy ride

INFRASTRUCTURE projects are often subject to political aspirations. But when they are not realised as promised or their costs multiply over the years, the projects turn into public controversies. After a while, the aspirations, promises and controversies settle as the infrastructure system becomes an integral part of the environment and society. Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit is such a project. It was planned to improve urban transport by gradually replacing minibuses in Tanzania’s largest city. Author MALVE JACOBSEN, Post-doctoral researcher, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Various challenges, like unclear construction plans, residents’ protests and unexpected costs, led to several…
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New forms of urban planning are emerging in Africa

New forms of urban planning are emerging in Africa

RAPID urban growth and an increasing number of climate change related disasters, such as the recent floods in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, have put the importance of sound urban planning in Africa in the spotlight. Urban plans are seen as the key to achieving inclusive, safe and sustainable cities. But urban scholars have argued for decades that for plans to be effective we need to move away from the traditional way of doing things. This requires dropping a top down approach – master planning – and opting instead for strategic forms of planning that are targeted, flexible and participatory. Authors…
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‘Our hands are tied’: Liberia grapples with heaps of city waste

‘Our hands are tied’: Liberia grapples with heaps of city waste

CARIELLE DOE AS the sunset over Liberia's vast West Point slum, youth leader Archie Gbezay shook his head as children meandered around dense piles of trash, playing catch with jars of old hair product plucked from polluted puddles of water. Gbezay, 34, has seen his neighbours in corrugated iron shacks grapple with flash floods, a crumbling coastline and a devastating Ebola epidemic. But he cannot come to terms with the state of the nearby beach, patches of sand barely visible beneath the rubbish."It threatens our existence as people and poses a serious health hazard," he said of the trash. "But…
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African cities can do more to protect children from climate change

African cities can do more to protect children from climate change

SIX in 10 people will be living in cities by 2030. This is concerning. Cities are responsible for over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet cities can also do a lot to mitigate climate change and help people adapt to its impacts. Cities can use renewable energy sources, promote greener transport, and get industries to cut pollution and adopt cleaner production techniques. Also, they can form or use existing networks and partnerships to strengthen these efforts. Author RONGEDZAYI FAMBASAYI, Doctoral Researcher: Faculty of Law, North-West University Almost 1 billion children – nearly half of the world’s children – live…
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People living in African urban settings do a lot of walking: but their cities aren’t walkable

People living in African urban settings do a lot of walking: but their cities aren’t walkable

WALKING remains the main mode of transport in many sub-Saharan African cities, especially among low-income residents in informal settlements. Yet, it is well acknowledged that walking conditions in African cities are precarious and unsafe. This is partly due to the prioritisation of local urban design for auto-mobility. Under the right physical and social conditions of the urban built environment, walking offers major benefits. But in most cities across Africa, poor planning and pedestrian infrastructure makes walking a serious challenge. Authors SETH ASARE OKYERE, Osaka University;DANIEL OVIEDO, UCL;LOUIS KUSI FRIMPONG, University of Environment and Sustainable Development ;MARIAJOSE NIETO, UCLMICHIHIRO KITA, Osaka…
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More parks, fewer offices? How the coronavirus will change city centres

More parks, fewer offices? How the coronavirus will change city centres

RINA CHANDRAN THE novel coronavirus has upended many aspects of life in cities worldwide, particularly as large numbers of white-collar workers choose to work from home and shun public transit - shifts that are likely to last, according to urban experts. This will have an enormous impact on city centres and central business districts (CBD) that have typically been the economic hubs and main generators of income for cities. What is the future of city centres and CBDs, and how will cities adapt? Here are some views. MONO TO MIXED USE The South Korean government has said it will buy…
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Empty offices to co-living: Five ways cities tackled housing crises in 2020

Empty offices to co-living: Five ways cities tackled housing crises in 2020

JOE TABARY FROM affordable home shortages to ongoing evictions during the pandemic, the past year has laid bare worsening housing crises around the world. Armed with digital title deeds and empty offices, here are some of the ways cities sought to tackle those challenges in 2020: EMPTY OFFICES THE coronavirus pandemic has increased pressure on governments to address shortages in housing and allowed authorities more freedom to convert empty offices.  Nearly four out of five chief executives expect the pandemic to entrench remote working, according to accountancy firm PwC, and various companies, like Twitter, have already said that some of…
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Future or fantasy? Senegal questions ‘Akon City’

Future or fantasy? Senegal questions ‘Akon City’

NELILE PEYTON HERDS of cows meander across the one-lane highway that leads down Senegal's coast to Mbodiene, a farming village surrounded by scrubland where singer Akon plans to build a futuristic city. The designs, which show shiny, pinkish buildings that bend and curve like waves, would look at home in any sci-fi movie. In the master plan, architect Hussein Bakri has carved out space for a parking lot - for flying cars. Akon, the Senegalese-American singer of 2006 hit "Smack That", has said the city will attract tourists and create thousands of jobs. U.S.-based firm KE International said it plans…
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