• The toxic truth about Abidjan

    More than six years after the dumping of large quantities of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, there is still nothing to stop a similar disaster in developing countries because politicians and courts have failed to learn from the lessons, a new report has found. In 2009, the Guardian fought a landmark legal battle to reveal the … Continued

  • A city too big to fail

    If Lagos were a person, she would wear a Gucci jacket and cheap hair weave, with a mobile phone in one hand, a second set in her back pocket, and the mother of all scowls on her face. She would usher you impatiently through her front door at an extortionate price before smacking you to … Continued

  • China and the expansion of Luanda

    “With the arrival of the Chinese, the cost of (building) material is much lower,” says my informant, a pedreiro, or house-builder. Since the first oil-backed credit line was signed between the Angolan government and China’s Eximbank in March 2004, China has been a prominent player in Angola’s reconstruction. However, the rise of the Chinese presence … Continued

  • A city in danger of losing its heritage

    The question of urban heritage has become increasingly politicised in Egypt. Cairo is a city with traces of its built heritage going as far back as its founding in 969. In addition, the city’s Greco-Roman, Coptic and Ancient Egyptian heritages are all visible. Cairo is a city of many histories, reflected in many remains. However, … Continued

  • Makoko demolitions prompt accusations of institutionalised elitism in urban planning

    Home to over 80,000 people, Makoko’s stilt-supported timber dwellings have long been an urban motif along the city’s inland shoreline – illustrative of the tough but vibrant life of Lagos. Yet, with a decision that simultaneously flouted international human rights conventions, encroached on federal jurisdiction and opened the floodgates of public scrutiny, the partial demolition … Continued

  • Whose city is it, anyway?

    “Accra has always had a dual personality, right from its beginnings,” says Nat-Nuno Amarteifio. He should know. A historian, he was mayor of the city from 1994 to 1998. With approximately 2,3 million residents, Accra increasingly finds itself at the centre of one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, and like many major cities … Continued

  • Experts advocate for a review of Abuja’s masterplan

    Growth and development in Nigerian urban areas had been generally unplanned and haphazard, adding to the  failure of government to provide basic infrastructure, plan for imminent growth and expansion, implement development plans and enforce development control, says a group of experts at a recent conference in Abuja. This was part of their call to have … Continued

  • What future for Cairo’s satellite towns?

    When news of President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall first washed over the crowds in Tahrir Square, protesters began to jostle in front of the watching TV cameras and hold aloft handmade signs. Amid a thicket of slogans, one stood out: “A kilo of meat costs 100 pounds, yet a square metre in Madinaty costs half a … Continued

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