Mega Cities equals Mega Slums| an African equation…?

History has shown that rapid urban growth in Africa has a tendency to translate directly into informal settlement and urban slum proliferation.

Unless this rapid urban growth is effectively and sensibly guided, Africa will face the realities of the equation Mega Cities = Mega Slums


In 2025, it is projected that Kinshasa, Lagos and Cairo will be the world’s 11th, 12th and 13th largest urban conglemerations.

In 2025, Kinshasa will be Africa’s largest city with 16.7 million inhabitants. Lagos will be second with 15.8 million citizens, slightly more than Cairo’s projected 15.5 million inhabitants.

If present growth rates persist, Africa may have more than 1.2 billion urban dwellers by 2050! (UN-Habitat)

For our case here in Nairobi, i do not know what comes to your mind about the newly emerging urban spatial configurations?

One thing is certain, we must be prepared for the change that is coming. Currently there is very scanty data on City-Wide trends. How i wish some powers-that-be would step in and make such information publicly available.


Speculators or Statistics?

Picture this: In 1950, there were only two African cities exceeding one million inhabitants with a combined population of 3.4 million and an average size of 1.7 million. In 2005, there were 43 African cities exceeding one million inhabitants with an average size of 2.56 million and a combined population of more than 110 million people.

In the case of land prices, too many Speculators are hoarding land and hiking the prices based on their perceived gains.

But my guess is that the biggest winners will be those that will be able to “Compete for the Future Today”. Knowledge is key. Urban dwellers need to know where the City is going otherwise old age strikes with no warning and one might find themselves trapped in Youth in very aged bodies and a sophisticated urban environment! The landscape is changing…

If there is a rapid projection of increased Rural-Urban migration, most likely Africa needs to focus on building capacity among its small and medium-sized cities to deliver and facilitate adequate housing, livelihoods and services for spiraling numbers of poor urban dwellers.

Last Word!

All this data and statistics goes on to demonstrate the fact the family of man is truly in a “Great Procession”

I know a man, a common farmer- the father of five sons;

And in them were the fathers of sons- and in them were the fathers of sons

– Walt Whitman, Poet

Kind regards,

David Nahinga | @UjenziBora


1. The State of African Cities at a Glance – ECA-CEA, UN-Habitat, 2008


~ by ujenzibora on October 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “Mega Cities equals Mega Slums| an African equation…?”

  1. True the Nairobi metropilis is one which will leave many amazed and with the decentralization of major business from the CBD is a clear sign. Am sure in this revolution since i don’t want to be ‘trapped in Youth in very aged bodies and a sophisticated urban environment!’ But a father of sons I must be!!! 😀

  2. Nairobi might have come to its growth’s zenith. But its next frontier of growth will be determined by the new constitution. If the surrounding Counties will agree to cede some ground for the metropolis growth, that will be a bonus, but I believe that new Counties will emerge as very strong contenders to the Ideal-Habitats in the near future. My question is, will Nairobi, which has so much riding for it, withstand the competition?

    Clearly, only time will tell.

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