Turning the tide?: the emergence of national urban policies in Africa
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It is widely believed that national urban policies in Africa are rare. This is a concern bearing in mind the formidable challenges posed by urbanisation in the context of low incomes and weak institutions. The paper unpacks the concept of urban policy and what it means for the way in which cities grow. It considers the situation in five countries with different approaches. The evidence indicates increasing interest in steering urban growth through coordinated actions on land, housing and infrastructure. The positive developmental arguments seem to carry more weight than the threats of disaster if squalor and social unrest are not
addressed. Yet the appropriate policy responses are not clear-cut and there are many dilemmas faced. Capacitating city governments to plan and invest in networked infrastructure appears to be one of the priorities.