Our cities have failed … decolonizing urban planning in the Afrocentric

DEVISSUES; October 2023

Vol. 25 No. 2

Africa is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate, presenting unique challenges in managing and planning for urban development. This article by Beatrice Hati Gitundu and Alice Menya (Nuvoni Research / ICFI) emphasizes that continuing with conventional planning approaches, which have historically reproduced marginalization, is no longer tenable. It brings to the forefront the urgent need to rethink and reshape urban planning in an African context.

devissues october 2023The authors claim urban planning in Africa has failed and proposes a new de-colonial approach that moves the field beyond the standardized planning which leans on western ideologies and adapting governance by merging formal systems with grassroots-led configurations which involve both state and non-state actors, acknowledging even unconventional entities like gangs and cartels. While urban challenges are significant, the article also emphasizes that this perceived ‘failure’ of conventional planning presents opportunities. By shifting the narrative to view informal settlements as ‘engines of the city,’ we can harness the dynamism, vitality, and entrepreneurship they offer. This shift allows us to build a more comprehensive understanding of Africa’s diverse urbanity and re-envision our planning systems accordingly.

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