Increasing the Relevance of Urban Planning Education in African Cities

Increasing the Relevance of Urban Planning Education in African Cities

Nancy Odendaal
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/ijepr.2013070103
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The Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS) is a peer-to-peer network of 50 Universities in Africa that teach urban planning degrees. In 2008, the AAPS received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to enable a project on revitalizing planning education. This comprised two parts: a program on curricular reform and network building and a second on case study research. This piece reflects on the rationale for these two initiatives and the outcomes thus far. The important underlying theme is that a renaissance in African planning education is closely associated with shifting value constructs and conceptualizations of what urban planning is, and what its function is in the contemporary African city.
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An Urban Future

Most urban regions around the globe have experienced tremendous spatial change over the last 50 years as technological innovation has accelerated in tandem with economic, social and cultural globalization. Cities have grown in size and population, some dramatically so, especially in the global south. Many urban conglomerations have changed in terms of their dominant economies, their demographic distributions and in terms of urban form. The majority has experienced high degrees of fragmentation, social polarization and reduced infrastructure performance.

It is now a well-established fact that practitioners need to prepare for a future in Africa that is urban. UN Habitat predicts that the increase in urban population in developing nations between 2007 and 2025 is to be 53 million, 70% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, most of them in the global south (UN Habitat, 2009). Growth rates in the developing world have slowed down however, from just less than three per cent in 2000 to 2.4 percent in 2010, but this is still three and a half times higher than the annual average population growth rate in the north (UN Habitat 2012). There is some debate on the extent of urbanization in Africa. Potts (2012), for example, questions the data that informs such claims, and highlights some examples of slowing urbanization. Important to recognize, is the fact that there are varying patterns of urbanization across the continent and more reliable data is needed in understanding such patterns.

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