Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Land Grabs and Inequity in the New African Mega Cities
Many of the ultra-modern and beautifully designed mega cities of Africa hide the old problems of haves and have nots. In the shadows of impressive new skyscrapers are areas without roads, clean water or modern sewage. "Uneven distribution of public amenities has become distressingly typical of most African cities," Mathias Agbo, Jr. argues in Common Edge.
Worse still, conflicts over annexing land can result in the loss of homes and property, and can become violent. "A few weeks ago the residents of Otodo-Gbame, a fishing settlement in Lagos, awoke at dawn to the sounds of gunfire and the sight of more than sixty policemen, accompanied by bulldozers and a demolition task force, sent in by the Lagos State Government (LASG)," Agbo reports. Justice & Empowerment Initiatives, an advocacy group, claims one man lost his life during the annexation after he was shot in the neck.
"Most residents of low-income communities in Nigeria live in constant fear of eviction," Agbo writes. Many of the Blue Collar workers in these cities have few options for affordable living where they are not squatters. "There are currently at least twenty of these new cities under construction in Africa and about twice that number in the works," Agbo writes. These new cities should represent new opportunities, not stolen property and violence.