Africa Regional Peer Learning, Knowledge and Dissemination Programme

Rapid urban population growth is taking place in much of Africa, but often without growth of urban economies and employment. As a result, there has been a significant increase of urban poverty in Africa. The Africa Regional Peer Learning, Knowledge and Dissemination Programme contributes to raising awareness and building capacity to respond to these urban development challenges in Africa.

Responding to urban poverty

In order to address the African urban crisis and respond effectively to urban poverty, it is essential that: (i) African governments and other stakeholders have a better understanding of the nature and scale of the urban challenges facing Africa; (ii) more appropriate policies and tools are developed by African policymakers, practitioners and researchers to address urban poverty in Africa; (iii) information, knowledge and good practices relating to urban development are disseminated amongst African policymakers, practitioners and researchers.


The Programme consists of several initiatives, many of which are co-financed:

1. Assisting with the launch of ‘State of Cities’ initiatives in up to eight African countries. These will bring together government bodies and professional, practitioner and civil society stakeholders to analyse urban trends and challenges, with a particular focus on urban poverty.

2. Research and knowledge dissemination on developing appropriate planning laws and regulations to support informal livelihoods in African cities and towns.

3. Designing and running the Urban Africa Portal, a website that disseminates information on cities in Africa and commissions photo essays and articles on urban conditions, lives and policies from journalists in cities across the continent.

4. Publishing CityScapes, a twice-yearly magazine that publicizes and discusses Third World urban issues in a blend of striking formats for an educated but non-specialised audience.

5. Publishing the African Cities Reader, an annual edited compilation on specific themes relating to urban Africa.

6. Hosting the Ray Pahl African Postdoctoral Fellowship, co-funded by the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies.

7. Convene a meeting of prospective urban research centres in Africa as a first step in establishing a network of centres of excellence doing in-situ applied urban research across the continent, committed to reducing urban poverty and inequality and increasing urban sustainability in Africa.

Lecture: How can we transcend slum urbanism in Africa?

Edgar Pieterse, University of Cape Town, in his lecture argues that data about economic incorporation into the labour market and living conditions demonstrate that the majority of African urban dwellers live in conditions of vulnerability, and that economic insecurity reinforces slum living and makes it difficult for states to access sufficient tax revenues to address a variety of urban pressures. Pieterse poses the question: “if we acknowledge this tough reality, how can we formulate policy agendas that can break this cycle of exclusion and injustice?”

Edgar Pieterse ‘s lecture is a part of the UN-Habitat initiative Urban Lecture. Read more and watch the lecture


Duminy, J. (2015). Using the case study approach to inform planning practice and research in Africa. In E.A. Silva, P. Healey, N. Harris & P. van den Broeck (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods. London and New York: Routledge.
Type: Book chapter
Pieterse, E. (2012). African Perspectives – South Africa. City, society, politics and architecture. In G. Bruyns and A. Graafland (eds.), African Perspectives - [South] Africa: City, Society, Space, Literature and Architecture. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, pp. 50-63
Type: Book chapter
Pieterse, E. & Parnell, S. In Africa's Urban Revolution, S. Parnell & E. Pieterse (eds). London: Zed Books, 2014, pp. 1-19
Type: Book chapter
Tavengwa, T. & Pieterse, E. (2013). Designing against the grain: confronting the political economy of knowledge production. In E. Pieterse and A. Simone (eds.), Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities. Johannesburg, South Africa: Jacana Media and African Centre for Cities, pp. 455-468.
Type: Book chapter
Pieterse, E. (2013). Introducing rogue urbanism. In E. Pieterse and A. Simone (eds.), Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities. Johannesburg, South Africa: Jacana Media and African Centre for Cities, pp. 12-18.
Type: Book chapter

Project members

  • Gordon Pirie

    Professor Gordon Pirie is the Deputy Director of ACC, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. 

    Contact me