Following on from the Developing Urban Futures Urban Age Conference orgainised by LSE Cities in Addis Ababa in November 2018, this event explored urban dynamics in rapidly changing Sub-Saharan African cities, and discussed how current models of planning and governance succeed or fail, addressing specific urban conditions on the ground.
Continuing population growth and urbanisation will add 2.5 billion more people to the world’s cities by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Today, around 40 per cent of Africans are urban dwellers, about 500 million people. In the next few decades this number will swell to over 1.4 billion. Ethiopia is moving at great pace from a predominantly rural economy to an urban one, with Addis Ababa growing at an annual rate of about 4% —twice the rate of Beijing or Jakarta.
Estimates suggest that two-thirds of the investments in urban infrastructure to 2050 have yet to be made and decisions taken now will affect generations of city dwellers well into the 21st century.
The event drew on recent comparative research by the Urban Age Programme across Sub-Saharan African cities including Addis Ababa, Lagos, Kampala and LSE Cities’ research on the governance of transport and sanitation infrastructure in the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Understanding the boundaries between infrastructure systems tends to be neglected in urban research. Yet it is here, at these infrastructure interfaces, where many critical questions for cities arise: who governs, who decides, who funds, who connects?