Feb 21 2012

Urbanization: an African urban myth?

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 8:43 AM

The London-based Africa Research Institute, a think tank, issued a shockingly contrarian report today on the “fallacy” of rapid urbanization in Africa. Of all the propositoons about contemporary Africa, rapid urbanization is perhaps the least contested. And yet here comes the Africa Research Institute with a counterpoint:

“It is widely believed that urbanization is occurring faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants move from rural to urban settlements. This is a fallacy. While the populations of numerous urban areas are growing rapidly, the urbanization levels of many countries are increasing slowly – if at all. Natural increase, rather than net in-migration, is the predominant growth factor in most urban populations. African governments, policymakers and international donors need to acknowledge fundamental changes in urbanization trends, and respond to the irrefutable messages these impart about urban employment, incomes and economic development.”

Well, if accurate, the new view of African cities — as stable and slowly growing — will be subjected to a good deal of energetic testing and criticism. How can so many people have such a wrong notion about a subject — the movement from rural to urban — that would seem to be so transparent? Well, this would not be the first time observers of Africa got something important really wrong? For more, read the entire report from the Africa Research Institute, “Whatever happened to Africa’s rapid urbanization?”

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