Demolition man

Growing cities in post-colonial Africa are often said to display highly disorganized urbanization schemes. As hundred of thousands newcomers flock to important commercial urban centres such as Lubumbashi and Kinshasa in the DRC, urban planning is nonetheless shrinking dramatically within wider municipal and provincial political agendas. While all levels of the Congolese state host various administrative departments dedicated to legally controlling and implementing urban planning, housing and land and property arrangements, very little ‘official’ public work seems to be carried out. At the same time, the state has recently sought to reinforce its grip over an expanding urban population through other means. This occurs through the sale of massive chunks of public land and demolition policies, rather than prioritizing the production of coherent urban planning schemes. Indeed, private companies and wealthy politico-businessmen buy out properties at the cities’ outskirt and sometimes right within existing urbanised neighbourhoods. While visiting Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, communes after communes, and talking with locals, it becomes quite clear that the future urban organisation of African cities will be quite a tough one.

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