Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


African Voices - Africa's Urban Paradox

28 January 2016, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

Africa Voices

Mobilities, economies and aspirations

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

The Institute of Advanced Studies is delighted to host this lecture given by Dr Caroline Wanjiku Kihato (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) and chaired by Dr Colin Marx (UCL), part of the African Voices series, organised by the African Studies Research Centre.

It is commonplace these days to say that Africa's cities are growing rapidly. In fact, some analysts contend that this transition from a rural to an urban society is the fastest experienced in modern history. While there is some dispute over how fast cities are growing, there is no question that significant economic, social and political transformations are shaping Africans' everyday lives. Drawing on statistical and qualitative evidence, the talk will show that while cities face significant economic, infrastructure and governance challenges they remain integral to the continent's growth. Without cities, Africa's economic prospects are bleak. And, even as cities struggle to provide adequate urban services, they nevertheless act as protective buffers for Africa's households, providing social infrastructure that supports life in both urban and rural areas. The talk concludes with an agenda for sustainable and inclusive African urban policies.

Dr Caroline Wanjiku Kihato is a Visiting Researcher at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and a Global Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington DC. In 2011, she received a MacArthur grant on Migration and Development. Her research and teaching interests are migration, gender, governance, and urbanisation in the global South.

This lecture will be followed by a reception from 6.30-7.30 pm which all attendees are welcome to attend.