Understanding the construction of urban peripheries in sub-Saharan Africa
According to the World Bank, the population of African cities will double by 2040 and triple by 2050, to reach approximately 1.5 billion urban dwellers. The importance of the scale in such forecasts is clear when reported to the extent of the areas where they will occur. They even become alarming when considering that African cities cannot currently provide a structured living environment for urban dwellers and for their activities. Therefore, the capacity of African cities to absorb high demographic pressure is questioned. In this context, and considering that the sub-Saharan African city is made and grows at the outer reaches, the urban peripheries should constitute its main challenge. How to manage their expansion? which model should be used? While the debate on urban peripheries is well underway in western cities, it is still lacking in sub-Saharan cities, despite the fact that these peripheries are the ultimate window for action to alter the trend of uncontrolled spatial growth.
The aim of this research is to gain an in-depth understanding of the underlying mechanisms linked to the development of urban peripheries in sub-Saharan cities, and to advance solutions to control their growth. We postulate that it is a combination of causal elements related to political, spatial, social and mobility aspects. An ambiguous political framework, a gap between administrative boundaries and boundaries of the utilized social area, a configuration of the land tenure system which allows implementing contradicting strategies from different actors, and an improvement in accessibility due to new, informal mode of transport are the four hypotheses explored in two study areas, Yaoundé (Cameroon) and Lomé (Togo).
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Funding: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne