Who plans the African city? A case study of Maputo

Anderson, J.E , Jenkins. P, Nielsen. M. 2014. Who plans the African city? A case study of Maputo: part 1 – the structural context. International Development Planning review. Volume 37, Issue 3.

Urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa constitutes a radically different context from that in the Global North, in terms of scale and pace of urban change and the nature of political and economic structures where state capacities are limited and non-state action dominates. However, the nature of urban planning generally implemented tends to be based on northern norms and methods, but without significant impact. This article draws on recent empirical research examining state and non-state activities on urban land development in Maputo, Mozambique. Here, whereas land-use planning based on state control has limited practical impact, urban land is physically structured and planned by urban dwellers aspiring to establish legitimate and viable forms of socioculturally informed physical order. Even where such ‘ordered’ land-use practices are not implemented (whether by state or non-state actors), collective forms of sociocultural organisation still orientate and guide land-use practices in many ‘unplanned’ areas, and this remains the dominant form of land development. This leads to the query: who actually ‘plans’ the African city?


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Photo via Julien Lagarde




Publication Type Journal article
Publisher Liverpool University press
Year 2014
Author(s) Jørgen Eskemose Andersen, Paul Jenkins, Morten Nielsen
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