New perspectives on Africa’s urban revolution

An important new book, edited by professors Edgar Pieterse and Sue Parnell and featuring input from several scholars, has put African urbanisation firmly in the spotlight. Published in 2014 by Zed Books, Africa’s Urban Revolution offers fresh perspectives on how to build more livable cities in Africa and brings readers up to date with current debates and research in the rapidly developing field of urban development.

At the Cape Town launch, Professor Pieterse pointed out that one of the key drivers behind the book was the sense that policymakers and political leaders were not willing to engage with substantive and qualitative aspects of the change taking place across Africa – and that there was therefore a need to convene some of the key voices that needed to be heard.

“We have access to an incredible array of scholars,” he pointed out, adding that transport, climate change and food security, as well as the role of conflict in the development of cities, are all issues that need to be analysed in more depth – and which the book tackles as a starting point. “This is not the end of the story – it is very much the beginning,” says Professor Pieterse.

The result of these combined studies is a book that is, according to reviewer Hannah Gibson, policy researcher at the Africa Research Institute, “a welcome and vital addition to a burgeoning field”. By framing the issues at stake and providing a springboard for creating solutions, it is one of a number of engaging and readable solutions for scholars, stakeholders and practitioners alike.

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