Africa’s urban future

Links to information resources — our own and others'. NAI library staff has compiled this to coincide with the Africa's urban future event held in Helsinki May 12 2017.

Usage of "urban" geographic keywords in the NAI library catalogue. The bigger the text, the more hits. (Feb. 2017)


Within the rapidly changing political economic terrain of Africa’s cities concerns around urban inclusiveness highlighted by events such as the Arab spring and service delivery and student protests in South Africa remain. They raise the challenge of how to address the wide income disparities in African cities, and the political inclusion of marginal groups such as women, youth and ethnic minorities.

Despite the burgeoning sectors, African city residents still struggle with the basics, such as decent housing, access to clean water and safe sanitation and energy. Financing for these basic infrastructural requirements remains a challenge. As does for commuter transport infrastructure in cities. While there has been significant effort to improve services in cities, the general absence of urban welfare has meant that the green peripheries of the city and the countryside remain crucial for the livelihood of the residents of African cities. What this means, is that while Africa is rapidly urbanizing, land, a key resource from which food, water and energy is sourced, remains important for the residents of African cities thus entangling climate change dynamics with urbanisation.

Other infrastructural sectors that make cities work like communication are being served by mobile technologies, which have networked Africa’s urban residents globally and opened up trade opportunities, and driven political representation for its residents outside traditional media.

On the other hand, Urban productivity and job creation are today other central areas of concern. Economic growth alone is not necessarily leading to development in many of the African countries. New bold solutions linking the desired economic performance to the expansion of employment will contribute to poverty reduction and expectedly to improved opportunities for all. Simultaneously, new digital economies around finance, health and social media are shaping the African urban environment in ways whose implications are to be fully understood, namely in what regards the urban economies.

Text from the event page Workshop Africa's urban future

NAI library collection

Clicking on the links will bring you to our search tool AfricaLit Plus, where you can narrow down or expand your query. Print titles are usually available for loan within the Nordics, and quite a few titles are freely available online.

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Free Online Urban Africa resources

UN Habitat (Headquarter in Nairobi, Kenya)

UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

African Centre for Cities (ACC) (based in Cape Town, South Africa)

African Centre for Cities is an interdisciplinary research and teaching programme focused on quality scholarship regarding the dynamics of unsustainable urbanisation processes in Africa, with an eye on identifying systemic responses.

Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF)

The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa has been operating as an independent think tank in South Africa since May 2014, pursuing its mission of making Africa’s housing finance markets work.

Shelter Afrique

Shelter Afrique is a pan-African finance institution that supports the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.

Africa-China Urban Initiative

The Africa- China Urban Iniative brings together knowledge and expertise to increase positive outcomes of Chinese engagements in Africa and African partnerships with China and promote more inclusive, pro-poor and sustainable development.

African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF)

The African Union for Housing Finance is a member-based association of mortgage banks, building societies, housing corporations and other organisations involved in the mobilisation of funds for shelter and housing on the African continent.

Slum Dwellers International

Skoll Foundation started 1999 and drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.

UrbanAfrica.Net is an online platform dedicated to communicating about African cities with contributions from journalists, academics, bloggers and others. The platform is linked to the African Center for Cities at University of Cape Town.

A list over African institutions dealing with research about urbanization

CLUVA Climate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa

The overall objective of the project is to develop methods and knowledge to be applied to African cities to manage climate risks, to reduce vulnerabilities and to improve their coping capacity and resilience towards climate changes.

World Bank Urban Development

A project from World Bank.

Mistra Urban Futures

The Mistra Urban Futures organisation is made up of five local interaction platforms, spread in five cities around the world and addresses one of today’s key societal challenges: How can sustainable urban development be achieved within our planet’s boundaries.

Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS)

Association of African Planning Schools is a network of tertiary planning schools located across the continent.

United Cities and Local Governments of Africa

The UCLG AFRICA is an umbrella organization of local government in Africa.

African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN)

AFSUN was established in 2008 as a network of African and international universities, non-governmental and community organizations.networks. AFSUN aims to improve the knowledge base on urban food security in Africa.

Know your city

Shack/Slum Dwellers International, SDI is a network of community-based organizations of the urban poor in 32 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Know Your City is a global campaign where slum dwellers collect city-wide data and information on informal settlements.

The South African Cities Network (SACN)

A network of South African cities and partners that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management.

Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK)

Urban Africa Risk Knowledge is a 3 year international research and capacity building programme, focusing on risk reduction in sub-Saharan African cities.

The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC)

The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), based in Freetown, is a globally connected research centre created through a partnership between the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (University College London) and the Institute of Geography and Development Studies (Njala University).

N-AERUS Network

The Network-Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the South consists of researchers and experts working on urban issues in developing countries.

African studies
Sustainable Development Goals
Urban areas
Urban research
urban development
urban economy
urban environment
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