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The Urban Question in Africa

Uneven Geographies of Transition

Carmody, Padraig R. / Murphy, James T. / Grant, Richard / Owusu, Francis Y.

RGS-IBG Book Series


1. Edition October 2023
288 Pages, Hardcover
Wiley & Sons Ltd

ISBN: 978-1-119-83361-1
John Wiley & Sons

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Illuminates the path to more generative urban transitions in Africa's cities and developing rural areas

Africa is the world's most rapidly urbanizing region. The predominantly rural continent is currently undergoing an "urban revolution" unlike any other, generally taking place without industrialization and often characterized by polarization, poverty, and fragmentation. While many cities have experienced construction booms and real estate speculation, others are marked by expanding informal economies and imploding infrastructures.

The Urban Question in Africa: Uneven Geographies of Transition examines the imbalanced and contested nature of the ongoing urban transition of Africa. Edited and authored by leading experts on the subject, this unique volume develops an original theory conceptualizing cities as sociotechnical systems constituted by production, consumption, and infrastructure regimes. Throughout the book, in-depth chapters address the impacts of current meta-trends--global geopolitical shifts, economic changes, the climate crisis, and others--on Africa's cities and the broader development of the continent.
* Presents a novel framework based on extensive fieldwork in multiple countries and regions of the continent
* Examines geopolitical and socioeconomic topics such as manufacturing in African cities, the green economy in Africa, and the impact of China on urban Africa
* Discusses the prospects for generative urbanism to produce and sustain long-term development in Africa
* Features high-quality maps, illustrations, and photographs

The Urban Question in Africa: Uneven Geographies of Transition is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students in geography, urban planning, and African studies, academic researchers, geographers, urban planners, and policymakers.

Series Editor's Preface xi

Acknowledgements xii

List of Abbreviations xiv

Introduction: Urban Transitions in Africa 1

Urban Transition Trajectories in Africa: Generative or Parasitic? 7

Assessing the Urbanization-Globalization-Industrialization Nexus 10

Structure of the Book 13

1. (African) Cities as Sociotechnical Systems: A Conceptual Approach 18

Introduction 18

The Urban (Question) in Africa: A Review of the Literature 21

Economic Geographies of Urban Development 22

Radical, Planetary, Comparative and Postcolonial Urbanisms 24

Urban Studies and Theory in/for Africa 26

Conceptualizing the Urban Question in Africa 28

(African) Cities as Sociotechnical Systems 29

Applying the Approach 33

2. Urbanization with Industrialization? Manufacturing in African Cities 35

Introduction 35

Historicizing Africa's Manufacturing Path Dependencies 38

Africa's Present-day Manufacturing Horizon 40

The China Factor in African Manufacturing 43

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) 45

Transforming Manufacturing? Governance Challenges and Opportunities 49

Rethinking the Governance of Production Regimes: National Urban Policies 50

Pathways for Industrialization in African Cities 52

Conclusion 54

3. The Impact of China and Other New Economic Powers on African Cities 57

Introduction 57

NEUP-African Relations Today: Key Channels of Impact 59

Imports 59

Infrastructure and Other Productive Investments 60

Housing and Built Environments 62

Migration, Travel and Knowledge Flows 65

Integrating the Channels and Their Impacts 67

Sino-African Relations in Africa Today: Specific Forms and Regime Impacts 68

Production Regimes 70

Consumption Regimes 71

Infrastructure Regimes 72

Conclusion 74

4. Fantasy Urbanization in Africa: The Political Economy of Heterotopias 76

Introduction 76

The Rise of Fantasy Urbanism in Africa 77

Neoliberal Planning and Heterotopic Urbanism in Africa 80

Emerging Heterotopias in Africa 82

Eko Atlantic (Lagos), Nigeria 82

Konza Technopolis (Nairobi), Kenya 84

HOPE City (Accra), Ghana 87

Africa's Neoliberal Heterotopias: Generative or Exclusionary Enclaves? 88

5. A Generative Urban Informal Sector? 92

Introduction 92

The Contours of Africa's Urban Informal Economies 96

Explicating the UIS Experience: Agbogbloshie Settlement, Accra 98

Situating Africa's UIS in a Sociotechnical Systems Framework 104

Transforming the UIS? ICTs, the 4IR and Makerspaces 106

Realizing a More Generative UIS: Collaborative Pathways for Transition 109

Conclusion 110

6. The Rise of the "Gig Economy" and the Impacts of Virtual Capital on African Cities (with Alicia Fortuin) 114

Defining the Gig Economy 115

The Gig Economy in Africa 116

Ride Sharing and the Evolution of Cape Town's Sociotechnical Regimes 118

Practices in Cape Town's Ride-sharing Regime 120

Governing Ride-sharing: Power Asymmetries, Informal Contracts and Rating Schemes 122

Precarious Platforms: Safety Issues in Cape Town's Ride-sharing Economy 124

Ride-sharing and the Evolution of Sociotechnical Regimes in African Cities 125

Conclusion 127

7. Making Cities Livable for All: Infrastructure and Service Provisioning Challenges 131

Introduction 131

The Scale and Scope of the Collective Goods Challenge in African Cities 132

Governance of Infrastructure Regimes: Speculation, Resource Constraints and Political Priorities 138

Splintered Urbanization and the Challenge of Service Distribution 140

Structural and Political Economic Drivers of Infrastructure Deficits in African Cities 143

SkyTrain -- Accra's Utopian Mega Infrastructure Project 144

The Bagamoyo Port Project, Tanzania 145

Kenya's Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) 146

Achieving Infrastructure Transformations: Recentering Use-Value 147

8. The Wrath of Capital or Nature? Threats to Cities from Climate to COVID-19 150

Introduction 150

The Geography of Risk and Riskscapes 151

Riskscapes, Cities and Sociotechnical Systems 153

Climate Change and Sociotechnical Regimes 155

Heat 155

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Erosion 156

Flooding 157

Drought 159

Public Health Threats: Pandemics (Ebola and COVID-19) 160

Ebola 161

COVID-19 162

Managing Risk and Resilience in African Cities 163

9. The Green Economy and African Cities 166

Introduction 166

The Green Economy and the Global South 168

Africa's Green Economy Experience to Date 170

Green Industrialization through SEZs? South Africa's Atlantis GreenTech Zone 173

Green Economy Transitions and the Urban Informal Sector (UIS) 178

Conclusion 182

10. Prospects for Generative Urbanism in Africa 184

Introduction 184

Assessing the Urban Question in Africa Today: A Multidimensional View 185

Realizing Generative Cities: Constraints, Capabilities, Governance and Resilience Strategies 187

Production Regimes 188

Consumption Regimes 190

Infrastructure Regimes 193

Reframing the Urban Question as a Sociotechnical, Systemic One 194

References 199

Index 251
PÁDRAIG R. CARMODY, Professor in Geography, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; Senior Research Associate, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

JAMES T. MURPHY, Professor and Director, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, USA.

RICHARD GRANT, Professor of Geography and Director of Urban Studies, University of Miami, Florida, USA.

FRANCIS Y. OWUSU, Professor and Chair, Department of Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University, USA.

P. R. Carmody, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; University of Johannesburg, South Africa; J. T. Murphy, Clark University, USA; R. Grant, University of Miami, USA; F. Y. Owusu, Iowa State University, USA