Technology and the Urban Future in Developing Countries: The Case of Africa

Technology and the Urban Future in Developing Countries: The Case of Africa

Antar A. AbouKorin (University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5646-6.ch076
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During the last century, population growth and rapid urbanization have been phenomenal in the developing world. Such rapid urbanization has created many urban problems on both local and regional levels. Technology has been a driving force for rapid urbanization in developed and developing countries. The main argument of this Chapter is that technology can be the answer to most of the urban problems associated with rapid urbanization in developing countries. In tackling this issue, a qualitative analysis of the literature review about technology and urban change, and a quantitative analysis of urban change patterns and challenges in Africa, as a group sample of the developing world, have been conducted. Then, the research recommends “Urban Decentralization” as a technology-enabled policy necessary for managing the urban future in developing countries. The research recommends “rural urbanization” and “small-size settlements' as necessary approaches for the efficient implementation of the proposed “Urban Decentralization” policy.
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2. Technology And Urban Change In Developing Countries

This part aims to provide the theoretical underpinnings of the relationship between technology and urban change and how technology affects urbanization. In reaching its objective, this part starts by defining the main technology forces affecting urbanization and their direct urban impacts, and the role of globalization in this process. Then, it provides an analysis of how technology affects urban change patterns, regarding size and the spatial configurations of urban systems. Finally, and to validate the rationality of technology urban impacts argument in developing countries, it presents an investigation of technology transfer and diffusion of technology use in these countries.

According to UNDP 2001 report “Making New Technologies Work for Human Development”, technology is seen to affect urbanization in three possible ways:

  • 1.

    Through changing the social behavior and nature of human needs and aspirations, which in turn affect pattern of urban change,

  • 2.

    Through improving the prevailing economic conditions, which in turn affects the pace and scale of urban change, and

  • 3.

    Through introducing and improving many technological forces; mainly transportation, telecommunications, energy and urban utilities which yield direct physical urban changes (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Ways in which technology affects urbanization


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