A World-Class City-Region? Envisioning the Nairobi of 2030

Garth Myers (2014). A World-Class City-Region? Envisioning the Nairobi of 2030. American Behavioral Scientist, Published online before print September 29, 2014.





A jaundiced optimism has surfaced in the past few years for a number of cities across the African continent. There is optimism for the moment in cities from Dakar to Nairobi, Cairo to Cape Town, Marrakesh to Maputo, and many urban spaces in between, due to positive economic growth and emergence of relative political stability. The optimism is jaundiced from decades of experience with previous moments of optimism overrun by economic crises and political upheaval. This article will examine this mixed outlook on the future for cities in Africa through a case study of Nairobi, and in particular its Nairobi Metro 2030 vision plan for the city and its surrounding counties. Kenya’s efforts to reimagine Nairobi as a “world-class city-region” by 2030 include ambitious yet tangible outcomes that are beginning to come to fruition—massive improvements to infrastructure, total transformation of the governance structure, and significant and substantive investments in commercial, industrial, and residential real estate. At the same time, the vision has a wandering eye, which keeps drifting back to the caution palpable among Nairobi residents stemming from severe inequalities, criminal violence, and political rivalries. Based on fieldwork and interviews from 2012 and policy analysis from 2012 to 2014, I argue that the Nairobi case is emblematic of the ambivalent era for urban visions blossoming across urban Africa as we move toward 2030.

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Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher American Behavioral Scientist
Year 2014
Author(s) Garth Myers
DOI 10.1177/0002764214550308
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