Urban Dialogues Berlin, March 16, 2018

Workshop: “Urban Africa: beyond develop¬ment as usual“

More than 50 “urbanists“ – scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and activists – from Africa and Europe attended to discuss the dynamics and the implications of rapid urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

More than 50 „urbanists“ – scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and activists – from Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Germany, Austria, and the UK, attended to discuss the dynamics and the implications of rapid urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In recent years, development narratives for Sub-Saharan African countries have been ‘urbanised’ with increasing references to processes of social change and the role of cities for sustainable development. However, diverging propositions exist for development related interventions and critical choices will be important in the continent’s rapidly expanding cities.

A new urban dimension and the uncertainties linked to appropriate action and intervention are also increasingly felt by international agencies, donors and foreign stakeholders engaged in Sub-Saharan African countries. There is a considerable risk that African decision-makers and the international development community underestimate urbanisation as a critical driver of development and fail to understand African urbanisation dynamics. Germany’s involvement in development is an instructive example: while there is a clear commitment to address the major developmental challenges, there is need to further discuss how this commitment can be translated to adequate policy responses, approaches for cities, and how dialogue and direction from developing nations can be promoted.

Against this backdrop, the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft with their partners LSE Cities, the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Habitat Unit of the Technische Universität Berlin organised a one-day workshop in Berlin to:

  • better understand the varied dynamics shaping urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa,
  • reflect on current paradigms and routines of engagement with urban development, and
  • discuss broader implications and alternative responses to key challenges.

The organizers will take the workshop’s outcomes into consideration when designing the forthcoming Urban Age Conference which is scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa on 29-30 November 2018. The workshop report is available for download below.

Workshop Report


This document captures the engaging discussions and highlights the main themes which emerged during the workshop. It is not a comprehensively edited report and does not state agreed upon policy recommendations or demands.

Download PDF

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