Definition — West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The population of West Africa is estimated at about 381 million people as of 2018, and at 381,981,000 as of 2017, of which 189,672,000 are female and 192,309,000 male. Wikipedia
General — Slides and Presentations
General — Articles — The Debate
Pros and Cons of Rapid Growth of African Cities (2018). However, the growth in African cities is binary; the African continent is like a coin on its side which can either result in a head or a tail flip. As The World Bank puts it in the overview article for the Urbanization in Africa: Trends, Promises, and Challenges event in 2015, “The continent’s urbanization rate, the highest in the world, can lead to economic growth, transformation, and poverty reduction. Alternatively, it can lead to increased inequality, urban poverty, and the proliferation of slums.”
General — Food
General — Trade
General — Environment
Greening Africa’s Cities (2016)
General — Articles
Figures of the Week: African’s Urbanization Dynamics (2020). This generally discusses a report that explores how different regions of Africa have urbanized at different rates.
General — Child Welfare
Gender and Urban services (2019)
Africa’s Slums Aren’t Harbingers of Anarchy—They’re Engines of Democracy: The Upside of Rapid Urbanization (2019). The title is self-explanatory.
Urbanization Can Be a Force for Tackling Inequality (2018). This article makes a general argument that cities have the potential to reduce inequality and promote economic growth.
Con Articles — General
Africa: The fastest urbanizing place on the planet (2018). This explains many of the problems cause by urbanization in Africa, generally.
Africa is Urbanizing: Here’s What it means for politics (2020). The article explains why urbanization doesn’t solve ethnic conflict and why it contributes to disease spread.
Rapid urbanization presents new problems for Africa (2018). This short article explains a couple of general problems cause by urbanization.
African’s urban housing crisis (2020). This article says that urbanization creates housing shortages that spread disease and lead to riots that are suppressed by the government.
Africa’s Cities — Time for Urgent Reform (2017). This article argues that Africa’s cities do not facilitate growth, that the income gap is wide, and that the sanitation is poor.
The air that West Africa breathes (2019). This article argues that urbanization causes air pollution that kills millions.
African countries keep building new cities to meet rapid urbanization even if people won’t live in them (2019). This article explains how the ideal advantages of cities haven’t manifested in reality.
Urbanization dampens growth opportunities in West Africa (2018). This article explains that urbanization has not produced economic growth.
Heroin is a major urban development challenge in Africa (2020). This article argues that poverty and inequality in the cities is drives individuals into the drug trade.
Articles — Con — Diseases
How urbanization affects the epidemiology of emerging infectious disease (2014). The world is becoming more urban every day, and the process has been ongoing since the industrial revolution in the 18th century. The United Nations now estimates that 3.9 billion people live in urban centres. The rapid influx of residents is however not universal and the developed countries are already urban, but the big rise in urban population in the next 30 years is expected to be in Asia and Africa. Urbanization leads to many challenges for global health and the epidemiology of infectious diseases. New megacities can be incubators for new epidemics, and zoonotic diseases can spread in a more rapid manner and become worldwide threats. Adequate city planning and surveillance can be powerful tools to improve the global health and decrease the burden of communicable diseases.
Expansion of world’s cities creating ‘new ecological niches’ for infectious diseases (2020). The article makes the claim that Rural-Urban infrastructure networks spread disease.
The Future of Global Health Is Urban Health. (2019), There are also significant challenges ahead. Poor, crowded cities with limited health systems are ideal incubators for outbreaks of emerging infections, like the Ebola epidemics in West Africa in 2014 and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018. These cities are often larger and denser than Athens and the other urban centers of antiquity, which means diseases are more likely to spread and more likely to affect a larger number of people. Outbreaks that occur in today’s cities can spread internationally faster and more easily, with the increased speed and volume of global trade and travel.
Urbanization in the Age of the Pandemic (2020). Late last year, what is thought to be a bat-associated coronavirus infected humans in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in China, possibly after a stopover in illegally traded pangolins—setting off a global pandemic. This kind of thing has happened before—with AIDS, SARS, and MERS, for example. Much remains unknown about the biology of COVID-19, which is alarmingly communicable by people with few or no symptoms. But an epidemic is only part biology. It is also driven by cultural factors, and urbanization is a crucial aspect. As sites of large gatherings and dense living conditions, cities offer the perfect settings for the spread of infection, yet their role seems to have often gone unremarked in discussions of the pandemic.
Africa’s growing risk of diseases that spread from animals to people (2020). Cities mean greater demand for food from animals and more disease.
Con — China
Urbanization in West African (2018)
Africa’s Urbanization Dynamics (2020). frica is projected to have the fastest urban growth rate in the world: by 2050, Africa’s cities will be home to an additional 950 million people. Much of this growth is taking place in small and medium-sized towns. Africa’s urban transition offers great opportunities but it also poses significant challenges. Urban agglomerations are developing most often without the benefit of policies or investments able to meet these challenges. Urban planning and management are therefore key development issues. Understanding urbanisation, its drivers, dynamics and impacts is essential for designing targeted, inclusive and forward-looking policies at local, national and continental levels. This report, based on the Africapolis geo-spatial database (www.africapolis.org) covering 7 600 urban agglomerations in 50 African countries, provides detailed analyses of major African urbanisation dynamics placed within historical, environmental and political contexts. Covering the entire distribution of the urban network — from small towns and secondary cities to large metropolitan regions — it develops more inclusive and targeted policy options that integrate local, national and regional scales of urban development in line with African realities.
The Challenges of Urbanization in West Africa (2018). The Sahel is experiencing rapid and disorderly urbanization. The capital cities of Bamako, Conakry, and Niamey dominate the urban landscape in their respective countries. In each of these three countries, the economic importance of the capital city is enormous. For instance, Bamako represents about 34 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), whereas Conakry and Niamey each represent about 27 percent of GDP in their respective countries. Furthermore, as their populations are increasing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world, the attendant youth bulge could turn into either a demographic dividend, whereby cities take advantage of a temporary boom in the working age population to productively employ young people, or a demographic disaster, accompanied by urban instability if cities do not meet these aspirations.
Accessability and infrastructure in urban cities (2019). This report, part of the “Cities” collection, analyses road accessibility, transport corridors and checkpoints set up in border towns in West Africa. An innovative model shows that the population base of border towns could be 14% greater if there were no delays at border crossings. The existence of roadside checks decreases the size of this population base from 12 to 50%. A study of 59 jointly planned or operated border posts in sub-Saharan Africa shows that trade facilitation runs up against the special interests of public servants and private-sector actors making a living from regional integration frictions.
Urbanization in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities (2017). Africa, a continent exceptionally rich in biodiversity, is rapidly urbanizing. Africa’s urbanization is manifest in the growth of its megacities as well as that of its smaller towns and cities. The conservation planning and practice will increasingly need to account for direct and indirect impacts of the continent’s urbanization. The objective of our study is to pinpoint the outstanding challenges and opportunities afforded by the growing cities on the continent to the conservation goals and practices. While there have been many studies on the impacts of urbanization and development on conservation in Africa these studies tended to focus on specific issues. Here, we provide a synthesis of this body of work supported by new analysis. Urban areas, growing both in population and in land cover, pose threats to the integrity of the continent’s ecosystems and biodiversity but their growth also create opportunities for conservation. The burgeoning urban populations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, increase the strain on already insufficient infrastructure and bring new governance challenges. Yet, Africa’s ecosystems can serve as foundations for green infrastructure to serve the needs of its urban populations while safeguarding fragile biodiversity. Overall, while worsening social problems overshadow the concerns for biodiversity there are also promising initiatives to bring these concerns into the fold to address social, institutional, and ecological challenges that emerge with the continued urbanization of the continent.
Urbanization in Africa: challenges and opportunities for conservation (2017). Africa, a continent exceptionally rich in biodiversity, is rapidly urbanizing. Africa’s urbanization is manifest in the growth of its megacities as well as that of its smaller towns and cities. The conservation planning and practice will increasingly need to account for direct and indirect impacts of the continent’s urbanization. The objective of our study is to pinpoint the outstanding challenges and opportunities afforded by the growing cities on the continent to the conservation goals and practices. While there have been many studies on the impacts of urbanization and development on conservation in Africa these studies tended to focus on specific issues. Here, we provide a synthesis of this body of work supported by new analysis. Urban areas, growing both in population and in land cover, pose threats to the integrity of the continent’s ecosystems and biodiversity but their growth also create opportunities for conservation. The burgeoning urban populations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, increase the strain on already insufficient infrastructure and bring new governance challenges. Yet, Africa’s ecosystems can serve as foundations for green infrastructure to serve the needs of its urban populations while safeguarding fragile biodiversity. Overall, while worsening social problems overshadow the concerns for biodiversity there are also promising initiatives to bring these concerns into the fold to address social, institutional, and ecological challenges that emerge with the continued urbanization of the continent.
Africa is urbanising faster than any other continent. The stupendous pace of urbanisation challenges the usual image of Africa as a rural continent. The sheer complexity of African cities contests conventional understandings of the urban as well as standard development policies. Lingering between chaos and creativity, Western images of African cities seem unable to serve as a basis for development policies. The diversity of African cities is hard to conceptualise—but at the same time, unbiased views of the urban are the first step to addressing the urban development conundrum. International development cooperation should not only make African cities a focus of its engagement—it should also be cautious not to build its interventions on concepts inherited from Western history, such as the formal/informal dichotomy. We argue that African cities are more appropriately regarded as urban grey zones that only take shape and become colourful through the actors’ agency and practice. The chapters of this special issue offer a fresh look at African cities, and the many opportunities as well as limitations that emerge for African urbanites—state officials, planners, entrepreneurs, development agencies and ordinary people—from their own point of view: they ask where, for whom and why such limitations and opportunities emerge, how they change over time and how African urban dwellers actively enliven and shape their cities.Top of page
Could urbanization lead to more democracy and better government for the bmega-cities of the developing world? This paper reviews three channels through which urbanization may generate political change. First, cities facilitate coordinated public action and enhance the effectiveness of
uprisings. Second, cities may increase the demand for democracy relative to dictatorship. Third, cities may engender the development of “civic capital” which enables citizens to improve their own institutions. History and empirics provide significant support for the first channel, but less
evidence exists for the others. Urbanization may improve the quality of poor-world governments, but more research is needed to draw that conclusion.
Africa’s Cities : Opening Doors to the World (2017). Cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing rapid population growth. Yet their economic growth has not kept pace. Why? One factor might be low capital investment, due in part to Africa’s relative poverty: Other regions have reached similar stages of urbanization at higher per capita GDP. This study, however, identifies a deeper reason: African cities are closed to the world. Compared with other developing cities, cities in Africa produce few goods and services for trade on regional and international markets To grow economically as they are growing in size, Africa’s cities must open their doors to the world. They need to specialize in manufacturing, along with other regionally and globally tradable goods and services. And to attract global investment in tradables production, cities must develop scale economies, which are associated with successful urban economic development in other regions. Such scale economies can arise in Africa, and they will—if city and country leaders make concerted efforts to bring agglomeration effects to urban areas. Today, potential urban investors and entrepreneurs look at Africa and see crowded, disconnected, and costly cities. Such cities inspire low expectations for the scale of urban production and for returns on invested capital. How can these cities become economically dense—not merely crowded? How can they acquire efficient connections? And how can they draw firms and skilled workers with a more affordable, livable urban environment? From a policy standpoint, the answer must be to address the structural problems affecting African cities. Foremost among these problems are institutional and regulatory constraints that misallocate land and labor, fragment physical development, and limit productivity. As long as African cities lack functioning land markets and regulations and early, coordinated infrastructure investments, they will remain local cities: closed to regional and global markets, trapped into producing only locally traded goods and services, and limited in their economic growth
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