African urban fantasies: past lessons and emerging realities

Now on our website, read DW director Allan Cain’s paper titled “African urban fantasies: past lessons and emerging realities”, published in Environment & Urbanization, the journal of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), April 2014. Click here to read the article.

The paper responds to Vanessa Watson’s article on the inappropriate urban development plans that are increasingly common in sub-Saharan Africa as governments seek to make their cities “world class”. It describes how the government of Angola has been able to use financing from Chinese credit facilities to build prestige projects that include support for the public-privately developed Kilamba city with 20,000 apartments. In the paper, Allan Cain argues that an opportunity is being missed to use today’s income from high-priced natural resources and the current easy access to Chinese credit lines and technical expertise to address the very large backlogs in urban upgrading of basic service infrastructure and housing for the poor. The paper also reflects on a previous post-independence period when a number of African new cities were built, leaving some countries with decades of debt and stagnant development. Can errors from the past offer lessons for future African urban development?

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