Positioning African Cities for Globalization: The Challenge of Slum Upgrading

Iweka, A. C. ; Adebayo, A. K. ; Igwe, J. M. (2009-12-01)

Staff publications

Article

Although the phenomenon of globalization affects every facet of human life, a disproportionate amount of existing literature on this subject is skewed in favour of the Western world. There are many unanswered questions about how to be a global city. However, the current understanding is that they serve as nodes and hubs of international finance, goods, services, communication, information, politics, culture, etc. The question concerning whether global cities exist in Africa remains contentious. Most scholars, however, tend to agree that Africa stands out as the continent with the fewest number of global cities in the world today. Notwithstanding this unenviable profile, there are prospects that African cities could be positioned to take part in the global city network process. A starting point is to reconcile the contradiction in the global city theory that allows modernized territories to exist in juxtaposition with precarious slums and informal settlements. These two mutually dependent spheres of the city are interlinked with the process of globalization. This paper argues that the growth of slums throughout the world, and its predominance in Africa is a salient feature of globalization. The study postulates that for African cities in the era of globalization, one of the most pressing challenges is how the cities should deal with the proliferation of slums, and informal settlements. The paper finally discusses adequate and suitable counter-measures that could prevent the perpetuation of polarized dual cities of social conflicts.