• The New Angola: “a dazzling empty shell”

    “In Luanda there are no matches.” This was the first line of a report written by Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel García Márquez in the Angolan capital in 1977. Soap, milk, salt and aspirin were other products that were hard to come by in a city that, he wrote, “surprised” visitors with “its modern, shining beauty,” […]

  • Who’s driving Accra’s future?

    Despite its growing economy, Accra’s local government has struggled to finance the planning and management of its housing and infrastructure needs, which has pushed national government to turn to private sector-facilitated development. New hotels, office buildings and commercial high-rises are cropping up in the city, particularly in high-end and commercially attractive areas, including around the […]

  • Angola’s white elephant city

    Built at a reported cost of $3.5-billion, it was supposed to solve Angola’s chronic post-war housing shortage and go some way to fulfil a 2008 election promise to provide one million homes in four years. But the Nova Cidade de Kilamba (New City of Kilamba), designed for several hundred thousand people, is home to barely […]

  • Fighting for citizens’ rights: An interview with SOS Habitat

    SOS Habitat is a Luanda-based civil society organisation that was founded by victims of housing demolitions in November 2002. The intention is to defend citizens’ land and housing rights by putting pressure on relevant entities to comply with Angolan and international law. SOS Habitat says its idea is to find a means of negotiating with […]

  • High-rise challenges to constructing a city’s identity

    The Quality of Life 2011 survey, conducted biannually by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), was presented at University of the Witwatersrand on 23 July. The survey found overall quality of life increased slightly despite global economic recession, with government delivery as driver. But core challenges appeared to be of the intangible type that are less […]

  • African architectures: Cazenga and urban redevelopment

    What should a contemporary African city look like, and what kinds of practices should it cater for? This question lies at the heart of discussions about the redevelopment of Cazenga, one of Luanda’s most well-known musseque areas. While planners argue that they will improve the quality of life of Cazenga’s inhabitants, the residents are worried […]

  • Private development vs. the public interest

    Across Cairo public service institutions are deteriorating due to severe corruption in the last two decades. The slow collapse of the state throughout the years, leading up to the uprising of last year, entailed the mismanagement of institutions such as schools and hospitals. The Bulaq General Hospital is a prime example of how private interests […]

  • Kigali City: ensuring adequate housing for all

    KIGALI City needs at least 344,068 new housing units over the next ten years to accommodate the rapidly growing population, according to a new report by the city council. The report, released yesterday, indicates that half of the 223,000 houses in Kigali are in good shape, 32 per cent in dire need of upgrading, while the […]

  • The aftermath of Makause’s shack fire

    …Eric Ndlovu described a blaze that was consuming shacks in minutes. “They caught fire so quickly, and just spread. You know petrol… when you extinguish it with water then you spread it around. People didn’t have enough water, or enough assistance in terms of extinguishing the fire.” The community told Daily Maverick that the fire engine […]

  • Snapshot of an ancient city

    “Despite being very old, very big, very crowded and gloriously messy, it can’t quite claim to be the oldest, or biggest or grubbiest world metropolis.” This is how Max Rodenbeck, author of Cairo’s biography Cairo: The City Victorious (2000) describes his home city. “Cairo is not a city of superlatives,” he adds. However, it is […]