Urbanisation offers great potential for Africa’s economic and social development but the rapid transformation is also putting a strain on Africa’s cities. Citizens have long demanded participation in urban governance that goes beyond elections. Although participatory processes have become increasingly evident, they are still far from being institutionalised at scale. This policy brief argues that participatory processes need to be thoroughly embedded in politics in order to move beyond particularistic gains towards a structural improvement of relations between citizens, CSOs, and local governments.
African cities need to raise USD 20-25 billion investment in basic infrastructure and USD 20 billion for housing to accommodate urban growth. This brief explores how improving creditworthiness, strengthening subnational financial intermediaries and pipelines of transformative investments may support this.
The working paper finds that urbanisation does not automatically lead to democratisation, but structures the way citizens relate to the state. While urban density facilitates collective accountability demands, the link between urbanisation and individual accountability relationships with the state is less straightforward. The reviewed evidence suggests that the force to reckon with is not the middle class, but rather the poor masses. It is not enough for governments to cater to the elites anymore, as the share of the urban poor becomes too large to ignore.