UCL Urban Laboratory


Cities & Circuits

Find out more about our research strategy and the three cities and circuits we are exploring as part of Making Africa Urban.

Three cities that have experienced extensive transnational involvement in large-scale urban development and interventions have been selected for study. All three are mid-sized cities, that encompass varying levels of economic activity and poverty. All face considerable complexity in governing urban development, notably, parallel systems of land titling (traditional, communal and individual), extensive informality in housing and employment, and significant governmental challenges, in terms of rapidly growing populations, limited resourcing and institutional capacity, and periodic de-stabilising political changes. But all three have been selected for research as they offer a relatively stable political and institutional environment, for feasibility of the research to trace long-term, multi-jurisdictional and transscalar projects.

Extensive transnational research will follow actors, finances, ideas and policies shaping each case. In each city, interactions and overlaps amongst three circuits of investment will be explored - sovereign, private, developmental. City-based analyses of the distinctive path-dependent trajectories and political formations shaping outcomes across all three circuits will be undertaken. Comparison across the three circuits will also be made - for example, comparing differences and interactions amongst development processes and outcomes associated with sovereign entities, state-owned enterprises, charitable organisations, and private sector actors.

In each city, three active cases of large-scale urban development projects and interventions have been identified for research, thus amounting to three cases for each of the three circuits. Find out more by exploring below.