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This volume describes African cities in transition, and the economic, socio-political, and environmental challenges resulting from rapid post-colonial urbanization. As the African continent continues to transition from urban configurations inherited from colonial influences and history, it faces issues such as urban slum expansion, increased demands for energy and clean water, lack of adequate public transportation, high levels of inequality among different socio-economic population strata, and inadequate urban governance, planning, and policies. African cities in transition need to reconsider current policies and developmental trajectories to facilitate and sustain economic growth and Africa’s strategic repositioning in the world.

Written by an international team of scholars and practitioners, this volume uses case studies to focus on key issues and developmental challenges in selected African cities. Topics include but are not limited to, smart cities, changing notions of democracy, the city’s role in attaining the SDGs, local governance, alternative models for governance and management, corruption, urbanisation and future cities.



Chapter 1. The Political/Administrative Interface in African Countries

African states have been in a state of transition since gaining independence from their colonial powers since the 1960s. Some of them commenced their independence with a little more experience in governing than others. However, they all inherited the governing culture of their former colonial powers with limited prior experience in the relationship between government and administration that is required to obtain an efficient and effective public sector. Since independence, each country had to craft its own system of “democracy” but often succeeded only in establishing a semblance of democracy. The newly created democracies were characterized by volatility in communities endeavouring to maintain their identities and appointed officials failing to implement policies due to political involvement/interference. This chapter attends to the political/administrative interface as a debilitating factor in constitutional efforts to provide a stable state with the capacity to satisfy societal needs.
Public sector institutions are characterised by the need for cooperation by two sets of role players. On the one side the elected political office bearers determine policy, set priorities according to their convictions and have to satisfy the electorate that their needs are being addressed. The other set of role players in the policy domain consists of appointed officials who have to give effect to policy (which may only contain vague guidelines) and ensure that the correct procedures are followed, that expenditure can be accounted for and that the promised services are delivered effectively and efficiently as viewed from society’s perspective. This results in an interface between politics and administration. However, there is no clearly delineated dividing line between the two functions, making the identification of the respective contributions by the two sets of participants complicated. The two functions may even be considered as complementary. This chapter discusses the interface from an African local government perspective. It is argued that the interface is diffused as a result of political involvement and interference of politicians in managerial matters, e.g. through the utilization of deployees (appointments based on political affiliation) or through the interference of higher levels of government in municipal matters. The arguments concerning the topic mainly use published and electronic sources.
Chris Thornhill

Chapter 2. The Changing Notion of Democracy and Public Participation in Cities in Africa: A Time for an Alternative?

Participation has become an increasingly important aspect in local governance as African cities experience increasing urbanization and pressing social needs. In the interests of advancing democracy, inclusive participation of citizens has become a guiding notion of how local governments deliver development to all without excluding any section of the populace. The challenge for most African cities is determining how inclusive citizen participation should inform development in a complex society faced with competing socio-economic and political needs. In the same breath, the notion of democracy is being challenged by different sections of the populace. The contestation is about who is benefiting from democracy and at whose expense. In this case, most African cities wear the coat of a developmental state mired in corruption and patronage politics. From this standpoint, the notion of democracy is contested, mostly by citizens who are experiencing poor basic service delivery and increasing taxes as cities struggle to raise revenues sustainably. The task of this chapter is to interrogate these salient issues. Firstly, it examines the concepts of participation and democracy, exploring their convergence and divergence in the broader discourse of development and democracy. Secondly, the chapter seeks to explore the extent to which these concepts are being upheld by city governments in the context of equality and statutory provision, given the diversity of city populations. Thirdly, the chapter examines the notion of participation in enabling deliberations, allowing for divergent views without promoting consensus-based political outcomes excluding dissident voices. Fourthly, it interrogates the extent of decision-making processes, determining the extent the city dwellers influence policies. All together, these various issues are intended to enable critical reflection of the changing notions of participation and democracy in African cities. The chapter concludes with a suggestion of an alternative mechanism of participation in restoring the voice of citizens towards effective and inclusive governance.
Paul Kariuki

Chapter 3. The Dynamics of Councillor Versus Traditional Leadership in South African Local Government: A Study of Understanding, Attitudes and Perceptions

South Africa is culturally diverse and strives to promote the inclusion of all citizenry in governance. The participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils is facilitated in terms of Section 81 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act (Act No. 117 of 1998). Since the promulgation of this national Act, there is a dearth of research and/or best practice models relative to implementation of Section 81. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) undertook a study to explore the understanding, attitudes and perceptions in implementing Section 81 among traditional leaders and municipalities. Both quantitative and qualitative research approaches were utilised, and selected participants were municipal representatives and traditional leaders whose names were gazetted to participate in municipalities. The study revealed gaps and challenges in understanding the roles and responsibilities among traditional leaders. Traditional leaders felt limited by legislation on issues of voting and representation and saw no benefit for their communities due to not being given the opportunity to express views and being excluded from council decisions impacting on their communities. Municipalities had adequate knowledge and understanding of Section 81 but had negative attitudes and perceptions to facilitate the process. The study recommended for COGTA to coordinate and strengthen information sharing and capacity building platforms for traditional leaders and enhance relationships between the two parties. The development of a provincial framework for determining out-of-pocket expenses as well as policies on the provision of tools of trades for traditional leaders was recommended.
Gladys Klaas-Makolomakwe, Purshottama Sivanarain Reddy

Chapter 4. The Governance and Management of African Cities: Alternative Approaches and Models Towards Transforming into Successful Cities of the Future

Modern and often largely overpopulated or dense cities are increasingly becoming problematic, in particular, in the developing world, and specifically in regions such as Africa. Cities are set to be the precincts where on average 66% of global citizens will live in 2050, and are currently faced with many challenges. This includes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as set out in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report (2015), and the contents of a recently published United Nations (UN) Report on The Weight of Cities (2018), and the challenges that they face as summarised below. These challenges according to the report will force us to devise new strategies for twenty-first century urbanisation: how we use resources that are normally critical for the maintenance of cities, and how we devise new tools, technologies and information-based interconnected interventions that can assist in improved resource management. The report emphasises low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially just cities. This includes the monitoring of the flow of resources entering and leaving cities and the development of resource-efficient strategies to address these urbanisation trends. In monitoring growth and new developments, the planning of cities has to consider to ‘compact growth’ in order to mitigate rapid and uncontrolled urban sprawl and resulting squalor. This includes in particular the energy and water wastage that result from such uncontrolled and unplanned urbanisation activities, and requires future leaders to be skilled and directed towards innovative approaches and practices in management and governance in order to achieve the overall UNDP goal for sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11). This chapter explores the challenges that these demands will make on the governance and management of future cities, and it also considers and evaluates alternative forms of governance and management that may be found in the ideas surrounding the development of free private cities, start-up cities, charter cities or cities built within the arrangements for the development of special economic zones (SEZs). Will these models be a consideration for twenty-first century African urban reconstruction and development?
Henry Wissink

Chapter 5. Urbanization and the Quality of Growth in Uganda: The Challenge of Structural Transformation and Sustainable and Inclusive Development

This chapter analyzes Uganda’s economic growth and urbanization from the perspective of the growing international and domestic concern about the quality of growth and rising inequality. It focuses in particular on secondary cities and towns to analyze their contributions to the quality of growth and their potential. Uganda has been growing impressively over the past three decades at about 6% of GDP annually and has one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the East Africa region. But this growth has not resulted in a matching quality. Average incomes have been lagging behind the GDP growth, whereas poverty and inequality has increased. Urbanization has welfare-improving effects, but these effects are distributed unevenly between urban areas, and cities are the main contributor to inequality nationwide. However, secondary cities and towns are characterized by less inequality than the primary cities, with a relatively higher share of higher productivity sectors, particularly manufacturing.
Cities’ contribution to structural transformation is undoubtful, with over 70% of national nonagricultural GDP being produced in urban areas. But the kind of structural transformation taking place in Uganda, with labor moving from less productive activities in rural areas to marginally more productive activities in urban areas (most notably informality), is neither sustainable nor truly transformative. Cities are yet to realize their full potential as engines of structural transformation and sustainable and inclusive growth. Secondary cities and towns may become game changers. But they face a challenge of investment readiness to incentivize business activities in higher productivity sectors—an area of particular importance to secondary cities and towns, relatively neglected by both the central government and private investors. This challenge requires a comprehensive approach and substantive changes in the applicable regulatory framework to allow municipalities to expand their fiscal space. This chapter offers a number of practical recommendations in this respect. Most importantly, municipal authorities are yet to develop a business mentality, including the basic concepts of comparative advantage and risk-return tradeoff, to be able to manage their cities as businesses, not as government offices, and to effectively engage the private sector.
This takes political will and investment in the fundamentals, such as capacities and systems for urban governance and management at all levels. The manner in which urbanization is planned and managed today will play a critical role in the quality of growth in Uganda over the coming decades and in particular the achievement of structural transformation and its national development objectives.
Dmitry Pozhidaev

Chapter 6. African Local Governments and Cities in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

In this chapter the author presents a synopsis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which also commits to support the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063. (The heads of state and governments of the African Union (AU) adopted Agenda 2063 in January 2015 as both a vision and action plan to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny. The seven Aspirations of Africa expressed in Agenda 2063 are (i) a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development; (ii) an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance; (iii) an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law; (iv) a peaceful and secure Africa; (v) an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics; (vi) an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children; and (vii) Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner.) He argues that local governments and cities in Africa continue to play a critical role in implementing the 2030 Agenda to achieve the SDGs not only because SDG 11 puts emphasis on cities and local governments but mainly because all SDGs have to be achieved in and by local communities in local governments and cities. The focal point of the chapter is on local government and city polycentric governance and transformational leadership. The gist of the chapter is that SDGs will be difficult to achieve if local governments and cities do not succeed in galvanizing transformational leadership and people into coherent and integrated polycentric governance to create a collective impact through resilience, creativity and innovation, effective delivery of services, future-oriented governance, partnerships, collaboration, and all the values and principles enshrined in the 2030 Agenda including equity, transparency, accountability, inclusion, integration, and leaving no one behind in sustainable development.
John-Mary Kauzya

Chapter 7. Local Economic Development as an Alternative Development Strategy in Southern African Cities

Local Economic Development (LED) has attracted global recognition as a response to local challenges such as imbalanced economic growth, intra-regional investment, lack of trade diversification, domestic infrastructure constraints, financial inclusion, labour shortage, and political–economic constraints. In light of the recent global development initiatives, including the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the need to stimulate economic growth in contemporary societies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region cannot be overestimated. As such, LED backing is constantly on the development agenda. The LED practice within the SADC is informed by the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015–2020. This plan aims to enhance economic collaboration in the region in order to address the existing socio-economic development imperatives and has paved the way for several LED alternatives in order to promote socio-economic development within the African cities in the region. These initiatives include the SADC- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-East African Community (EAC) Free Trade Area, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, and African Development Bank (AfDB). The paradigmatic shift in LED approaches at a regional level confer a prominent role within African cities.
Bongani Reginald Qwabe, Sakhile Isaac Zondi

Chapter 8. E-participation as a Mechanism of Stakeholder Engagement in the City of Harare

Cities in emerging economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are beginning to leverage the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by incorporating e-participation as the key mechanism of public participation. However, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus among scholars on its lack of effectiveness. This chapter contributes to the growing body of literature on e-participation as an alternative governance mechanism and as an innovative technology for African cities in transition by providing insights into its application or lack thereof in politically polarised cities such as the City of Harare. In doing so, the chapter draws strongly on a case study of the City of Harare in Zimbabwe and on data gleaned through surveys and documentary analysis. The data for this chapter emerged from a broader project that used interviews with purposefully selected informal traders and their customer participants (N = 195) randomly chosen for the surveys. The chapter argues that the effects of political and debilitating economic challenges, which have resulted in skyrocketing prices and diminishing disposable incomes, have been to limit citizen’s resources for data which could enable them to be actively involved in various ICT platforms for e-participation. This, together with frequent power outages, is a huge barrier to the application of alternative governance and innovative technologies for African cities in transition. This study not only highlights the importance of e-participation but underscores the need to understand the heterogeneity of the context of its application.
Linos Mapfumo, Sybert Mutereko

Chapter 9. Evaluating the Aerotropolis Model for African Cities: The Case of the Durban Aerotropolis

A new approach to airport development and associated industrial and commercial land use in its immediate surroundings is gaining prominence around the world, which has become known as the Aerotropolis Model. An aerotropolis is a “smart city” precinct being developed in the surrounding area of an airport, and focusing on business developments in the so-called “first mile” and also in rapid and world-class logistics and connectivity to suppliers, customers, and partners locally and globally. Aerotropoli and their associated business usually flourish in the fields of innovative, high-technology and high value-added sectors, and with business links that are mostly foreign in nature. So, apart from the notion that an aerotropolis can become a fully integrated and modern smart city, they flourish and focus on logistics and commercial facilities and services that emanate from and support aviation-linked enterprise. The plan is that the Durban Aerotropolis will seek to become a unique entry point for the South African and regional tourism industry, and that tourists desiring to visit will be one of the major strategies to increase passenger flows, as well as investors desiring a high return on investment and becoming strategic production and export champions in the region. This chapter looks at evaluating the aerotropolis concept and also assesses the impact that aerotropolis developments could have on African cities of the future.
Henry Wissink

Chapter 10. Urban Decay and Regeneration in the African City

Urban degeneration is a challenge that is experienced in many cities throughout the world. The massive and complex migration of the population into the urban environment tends to be disordered, leading to untidy spaces; scarcity of resources; air pollution; health concerns; increased traffic challenges; deteriorating and ageing infrastructure, and inadequate waste management (Chourabi et al. 2012:2289). This shift of the population from primarily rural areas to urban areas is projected to continue into the future, and has resulted in more than half the population now living in urban areas (Chourabi et al. 2012:2289). As a result of productivity patterns and urban growth, many cities have a challenge, with underused land or distressed and declining urban areas, which result in the city’s livability, image and productivity dwindling (World Bank 2018).
Despite the various endeavours undertaken by many cities to address urban decline, numerous cities still grapple with streets full of litter, degenerated buildings and dumping. This chapter explores certain African cities’ efforts in addressing urban regeneration. A detailed perspective of the City of Durban within South Africa is presented with the intention to providing an analysis of both successful and failing actions and providing recommendations for African cities to potentially implement to ensure traction in urban regeneration programmes within cities.
Nirmala Govender, Purshottama Sivanarain Reddy

Chapter 11. Urbanisation and Future Smart Cities: Challenges of Water and Sanitation Services

In an increasingly urbanised world, substantial transformations in population distribution seem inevitable, although perhaps not as rapid as often predicted. At the city level, local governments play perhaps the most important role in ensuring that urbanisation is inclusive and that its benefits are shared. Yet, a very large proportion of the population of many cities in Africa lacks access to adequate water and sanitation services. This increases their vulnerability to hazards, both environmental and socioeconomic. Integrating broader water resources management, the design of water infrastructures and the operation of water services into urban planning is becoming increasingly important and highlights the imperative of addressing the key urban-rural water linkages. Making the best use of innovative technical and non-technical solutions (including new technologies and techniques, business models, stakeholder engagement, green infrastructure, regulatory arrangements) to respond to the above challenges at least cost is key to ensuring adequate levels of water security and water services.
Cities are central nodes in the development of human geographies. They are spaces where the flows of goods, capital and people converge. They rely on the management and good governance of public infrastructure for sustainable growth and stability and to safeguard their populations against natural and man-made disasters. City governments need to nurture and expand their infrastructure ecosystems. Developing economies will struggle to provide housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, employment and basic services. In Africa in particular, populations crammed into informal settlements and low-cost housing are most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters, conflict and climate change. City governments need a forward-looking systematic approach to urban growth in order to secure sustainable socio-economic development and ensure resilience in the face of disaster. This chapter argues that population growth, commercialisation and industrialisation place further pressures on authorities to meet growing demand in water-scarce regions. Smarter, more effective management of water in relation to the urban water cycle can contribute to more effective water services planning and water demand management. Municipalities are the custodians of community infrastructure. The maintenance and management of physical infrastructure assets, infrastructure asset management, are therefore the cornerstone of delivering public goods and services. The municipalities whose solutions are resilient and scalable have the most opportunities to become smart cities.
Thokozani Ian Nzimakwe

Chapter 12. Disaster Risk Management at the Local Level: The Case of Ethekwini City Council in South Africa

There has been advanced development of progressive disaster management legislation/policies globally, which are intended primarily to ensure progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR). This chapter critiques the application of the disaster risk reduction policies/plans at the local sphere, using eThekwini Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa as a case study. More specifically, it presented a critical assessment of disaster risk reduction practices with a view to addressing disaster risk management gaps at the local level.
A qualitative case-study strategy was utilized as the primary paradigm, and participants were purposively selected from a multidiscipline source population, namely, municipal disaster management practitioners, councillors, and relevant departments. Analysis of emergent data was conducted through a combination of descriptive statistical and content analysis.
eThekwini Disaster Management Centre has noteworthy capacity constraints, both technical and nontechnical, evident in service shortcomings, notably incomplete plans/frameworks coupled with the absence of significant institutional arrangements, namely, an operational Disaster Management Advisory Forum. The approach to disaster management is reactive rather than proactive, evident from the lack of a disaster management blueprint informed by an assessment of disaster risk.
Apart from the theory development phase, a practice framework was proposed with recommendations to assist local government to improve/enhance disaster risk reduction mainstreaming in their core activities. There has to be alignment between disaster risk reduction and integrated development planning, thereby ensuring that disaster reduction initiatives are holistic and incorporated in the planning, legal, and financial frameworks. Developing and strengthening municipal disaster management capacity and requisite institutional arrangements (interdepartmental committee and the advisory forum for stakeholder engagement) has to be prioritised.
Mthokozisi Duze, Purshottama Sivanarain Reddy

Chapter 13. South African Cities and Corruption: A Tale of Two Cities

The present chapter is based on research combined with an enhanced focus on corruption in two major South African cities (Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth) and is based on the utilisation of secondary and primary sources, original state documents and an array of interviews with senior municipal and provincial politicians and administrators.
It attempts to identify and dissect existing corruption challenges in urban governance, such as the enhancement of socio-economic inequality; shoddy economic and social service delivery; the lack of systematic organisational systems able to support the collection, analysis, systematisation and dissemination of data on practices in urban governance; lack of accountability and violations of ethical and compliance issues; non-effectiveness of e-tools leading to the lack of the oversight and accountability regimes within which they operate; and the ‘open doors’ to ‘mediators’ and corrupt ‘gatekeepers’ that increase the vulnerability of the cities.
The research aspires to enrich the national, continental and international city-focused corruption research agenda in complementing, reflecting and informing emerging policy and practice initiatives within the terrain of a comparative urban studies’ approach to forms of corruption in developing country cities. It could also help build an evidence base for understanding the effectiveness of urban governance interventions in addressing corrupt practices. In the interim, interested donors should look critically at their portfolios to consider which urban initiatives could benefit from an enhanced anti-corruption effectiveness lens.
Evangelos A. Mantzaris, Pregala Pillay

Chapter 14. African Cities in Transition: Solutions and the Way Forward

The quality and sustainability of future African urban living, apart from other important considerations, will be determined by the vision, capacity, commitment and tenacity of its leaders, both in the public and the private sector, to produce such futures. Good leaders guide governments to perform effectively in the interests of their citizenry, and they produce results in terms of enhanced standards of living, abundant personal and development opportunities, quality basic education, skilled medical care, reduced crime and basic infrastructure. In contrast, benevolent or even malevolent leadership results in roads falling into disrepair, currencies depreciating, inflation, declining health, increasing poverty and crime and overall security becoming tenuous. Consequently, the notion of good or bad leadership will impact either very positively or negatively on the African city and the local communities as alluded to above. Failure to achieve this collaborative governance between the key role players and stakeholders clearly predicts a dystopian future, as the slum population of Africa has increased to approximately 200 million people and is predicted to grow rapidly if smart interventions are not devised.
Purshottama Sivanarain Reddy, Henry Wissink


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