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Urban Land Grabs in Africa?

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Africa is rapidly urbanizing. New dynamics of investments and mobilities ensure expansive urbanization, transforming the continent's urban land and built environment. These changes also impact future prospects for sustainable living conditions for African urban dwellers. This issue of Built Environment has collected articles that observe these changes, in order to explore whether they are indeed leading to 'urban land grabs', which take place in new forms of commodification and speculation of land and properties. We recognize that the trend of commodification and speculation is likely to intensify, as the new modernization agenda is propagated in the name of pursuing urban sustainability and resilience, corresponding to the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. At the same time, inclusive urban development is also debated in these international agendas, as ordinary citizens increasingly confront livelihood and land-use changes, spatial alteration and social segregation, or physical displacement. In this context, we know little about how African urban dwellers' experiences could be understood and used to envision genuinely sustainable and inclusive urban development. In this editorial, we give an overview of various emerging urban land investments and how they are experienced by urban dwellers. As shown in all the articles of this issue, we argue that the far-reaching impact of increased investments and mobilities, leading to commodification and land speculation as well as the urban dwellers' agency to navigate the impact, deserve more attention in discussions on sustainable and inclusive urban development in Africa.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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