Towards a New Growth Path in Africa: A Study of National Urban Policy Responses to Urbanisation

Africa is the least urbanised continent of the world, but over the last two decades rapid urbanisation has continued to change its landscape from rural to urban. The transitions of Africa’s urban spaces have occurred negatively, creating poverty and inequality rather than industrialisation that creates employment opportunities in cities and towns, as happened on other continents. Many African countries are unable to manage the rapid urbanisation, which is driving uncontrolled development in several African cities and towns. African cities are facing challenges associated with population growth, which has surpassed expectations, and requires sustainable, integrated urban planning and good governance.


This paper is a comparative study of four African countries, to understand the policy approaches established to manage rapid urbanisation and urban development. In addition, the national urban policies (NUPs) from two developed countries were examined, with the aim of finding lessons for African countries. The study found that many African countries do not have an integrated urban policy as proposed by the UN-Habitat. In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria and Ghana are two countries that have such a policy, while South Africa and Kenya are in the process of formulating and adopting policies.