Poles of Prosperity or Slums of Despair? The Future of African Cities

Two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. The rate of urbanization is fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is projected to more than double its total population, adding one billion people, between now and then.  Most of that growth – 80 per cent – will occur in urban areas.

International and historical experience demonstrates that urban growth is a double-edged sword:  it  amplifies what it produces. Innovation, employment and economic growth, if policies and implementation are working well; poverty, unemployment and instability, if they are not.

During 2016–18, The Brenthurst Foundation will run a multi-disciplinary policy project on African cities.  By identifying best international practice through detailed case studies on a dozen cities, this study aims to establish what policy interventions and partnerships will enable Africa’s urban areas to achieve the upsides of economic development while managing the downsides of the various forms of instability that often arise from rapid urbanization.

This Discussion Paper ‘Poles of Prosperity or Slums of Despair?: The Future of African Cities’, by David Kilcullen, Greg Mills and Wendy Trott outlines many of the key themes and challenges that face Africa as its urban areas undergo dramatic transformations in the coming years. It also serves as the foundational paper for the cities project.

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© The Brenthurst Foundation 2017.