Africa's Urban Revolution

Edgar Pieterse and Susan Parnell


A comprehensive survey of the key issues surrounding Africa's rapid urbanization, written by leading scholars and practitioners in the field.
The facts of Africa’s rapid urbanisation are startling. By 2030 African cities will have grown by more than 350 million people and over half the continent's population will be urban. Yet in the minds of policy makers, scholars and much of the general public, Africa remains a quintessentially rural place. This lack of awareness and robust analysis means it is difficult to make a policy case for a more overtly urban agenda. As a result, there is across the continent insufficient urgency directed to responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with the world’s last major wave of urbanisation.

Drawing on the expertise of scholars and practitioners associated with the African Centre for Cities, and utilising a diverse array of case studies, Africa's Urban Revolution provides a comprehensive insight into the key issues - demographic, cultural, political, technical, environmental and economic - surrounding African urbanisation.

Author Bio

Susan Parnell is an urban geographer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She is centrally involved in the African Centre for Cities, serving on its executive.

Edgar Pieterse is holder of the South African Research Chair in Urban Policy. He is director of the African Centre for Cities and professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, both at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of, amongst other books, City Futures: Confronting the crisis of urban development (Zed Books, 2008).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Africa's urban revolution in context - Edgar Pieterse and Susan Parnell
  • 2. Conflict and post-war transition in African cities - Jo Beall and Tom Goodfellow
  • 3. Sub-Saharan African urbanisation and global environmental change - Susan Parnell and Ruwani Walawege
  • 4. Linking Urbanisation and development in Africa's economic revival - Ivan Turok
  • 5. Religion and social life in African cities - Carole Rakodi
  • 6. Feeding African cities: the growing challenge of urban food insecurity - Jonathan Crush and Bruce Frayne
  • 7. Transport pressures in urban Africa: practices, policies, perspectives - Gordon Pirie
  • 8. Decentralisation and institutional reconfiguration in urban Africa - Warren Smit and Edgar Pieterse
  • 9. The challenge of urban planning law reform in African cities - Stephen Berrisford
  • 10. The education and research imperatives of urban planning professionals in Africa - James Duminy, Nancy Odendaal and Vanessa Watson
  • 11. Filling the void: an agenda for tackling African urbanisation - Edgar Pieterse
  • 12. Infrastructure, real economies and social transformation: assembling the components for regional urban development in Africa - AbdouMaliq Simone
  • 13. National urbanisation and urban strategies: necessary but absent policy instruments in Africa - Susan Parnell and David Simon
  • 14. Urbanisation as a global historical process: theory and evidence from sub-Saharan Africa - Sean Fox
  • Postscript: Building new knowledge and networks to foster sustainable urban development - Thomas Melin


'Provides policy makers with much-needed information as well as various avenues through which to improve cities for future generations.'
Africa At LSE

'Africa's Urban Revolution provides a fascinating look, both empirically and theoretically, at an eclectic mix of contemporary urban issues in Africa. Promoting long-term planning that directs and informs African urbanisation is the key message of the authors. This book is a must-read for scholars of the urban South.'
Professor Ronnie Donaldson, Stellenbosch University

'Africa's Urban Revolution is a cutting-edge, insightful book that contains important contributions from some of the leading urban researchers in Africa. Informed by theory and practice, the book makes a major statement about future urban possibilities for the African region.'
Professor Richard Grant, University of Miami

'This book provides a powerful antidote to the argument that urbanisation in Africa is not worthy of attention from urban scholars and global policy makers. It does so, in rich detail, over a wide array of crucial themes across the continent's cities. In novel ways and with robust style, the authors offer an invaluable new gold standard text for the growing field of African urban studies.'
Garth A. Myers, Trinity College

'A welcome and vital addition to a burgeoning field.'
Africa Research Institute

'[A]n excellent review of the challenges facing African cities.'
Journal of Retracing Africa


Publication Date: 9 January 2014
320 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780325200
Hardback: 9781780325217
eBook ePub: 9781780325231
eBook PDF: 9781780325224
eBook Kindle: 9781780325248

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