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The experience and legacy of French colonial urban planning in sub-Saharan Africa

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This paper examines the activities of French colonial authorities in the urban planning arena in sub-Saharan Africa. It reveals that, despite the dearth of information on these activities, especially in the relevant English language literature, the French were very active in the planning field before and during their colonial era in the region. While these activities might have been intended to do no more than facilitate the attainment of French colonial development objectives, they have far-reaching implications for contemporary development efforts. It is argued that French colonial urban designs, schemes and legislation have negative implications for urban transportation, housing, land tenure and the growth and development of urban centres vis-à-vis the rural areas. Problems in these areas are aggravated by the fact that post-colonial authorities in the region have opted to inherit and vigorously enforce the planning legislation and schemes crafted by their colonial predecessors.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of South Florida 140 7th Ave South, St Petersburg Florida FL 33701 USA (), Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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