Better Growth, Better Cities: Rethinking and Redirecting Urbanisation in Africa

The African Centre for Cities was commissioned by the ‘New Climate Economy’, a flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, to research and comment on the challenges and opportunities associated with rapid urbanisation in Africa occurring amid unprecedented climate instability.

The ACC collaborated with several individuals to produce a Working Paper. Anton Cartwright was lead researcher and writer.

 As the report points out: Low per capita CO2 emissions, low levels of car ownership and the lack of urban infrastructure in African cities are symptoms of under-development and low household incomes. However, in the context of climate change the fact that so much of Africa’s cities are yet to be built and serviced, presents a significant opportunity for Africa to become a major leader in low-carbon urban development.

The appeal to policy makers of low-carbon energy services, public transport, off-grid sanitation and compact urban forms for African cities lies in their ability to deliver critical services to growing urban populations and support wider economic prosperity in spite of the relative lack of governance and adequate public sector budgets.

This report documents a wide range of projects, programmes and plans currently being pursued by African cities as part of a new mode of low-carbon urbanism that is simultaneously helping to realise virtuous cycles of local economic development and social inclusion, as well as climate risk reduction. The emerging evidence is that some African cities are using the global response to climate change as an opportunity to convert their historical under-development into new economic competitiveness.

The institutional requirements for unlocking this potential differ from city-to-city and will involve varying combinations of national government, local authorities and community-based entrepreneurs to ensure successful implementation. The forging and strengthening of these institutional hybrids represents a central challenge for Africa’s  development community.

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Publication Type Working Paper
Publisher African Centre for Cities
Year 2015
Author(s) Anton Cartwright
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