Chapter 14Growing Cities: Urbanization in Africa

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Felix Meier zu Selhausen


Towns and cities existed throughout Africa’s past. However since the late twentieth century Africans are witnessing a historically unprecedented transition from living mainly in rural areas to residing in towns and cities. This chapters explains the key concepts of the urban growth process and sets Africa's urbanization into a historical and global perspective. The second part of the chapter explores the driving forces behind Africa's ongoing urbanization process, and asks whether economic development and urbanization have moved in tandem. Finally, welfare consequences resulting from rapid urban growth in Africa without sufficient economic growth are discussed.


Meier zu Selhausen, Felix (2022). “Growing Cities: Urbanization in Africa”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network E-book.


  1. Good day,

    You speaking to Luthando Sibeko, may I kindly ask to make use of your article or book chapter ‘Growing Cities: Urbanization in Africa. May you also provide me with the full reference of the article or book chapter.

    Thank You.
    LNS Sibeko

    1. The chapter can be downloaded freely. The reference is also listed above. Thanks for your interest.

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