In Africa, Building a Better Slum

A sustainable development expert on how African cities should handle the continent's urbanization boom

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Reuters

Urbanization is occurring at a rapid pace in Africa. The continent is currently about 40 percent urbanized, a figure expected to reach 60 percent by mid-century. Along with that shift will come a huge jump in the urban population, rising from about 370 million to more than 1.2 billion urban residents.

In this video from TEDxStellenbosch, Mark Swilling, coordinator of the University of Stellenbosch’s Sustainable Development Planning and Management program, breaks this trend down.

He describes this process as an urbanization of the slums, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Swilling says that 62 percent of urban dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa live in slum conditions. It’s likely that many of the additional 800 million urban residents coming within the next four decades will end up in slums. But as Swilling’s talk explains, there are ways to improve the development patterns of these areas to provide higher quality of life and better services.

Photo credit: Noor Khamis / Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.