Many narratives encapsulate the process of urbanization in Africa. Through these narratives African cities are often assumed to be the worst places for people to live and sites associated with survival strategies. Though African cities are saddled with challenges, they remain the sites of opportunity for its people as well as many others. Indeed, urban sustainability issues in many African countries are best observed through the challenges confronting cities. Yet, urban life has not collapse in most African countries largely on the account of the informal sector which provides the urban population with housing, employment and income, and any claims on consumption of goods and services in the city. In this lecture, I examine the changing character of African cities as sites for both hope and despair as it is the case with many cities in the world. I conclude by arguing that the ongoing demographic transition calls for a shift and adjustment regarding the narratives about Africa’s urbanization, and how ideas are conceived and applied given continent’s unique experiences.

Brief Profile 
Professor George Owusu obtained his Bachelor degree from the University of Ghana, Ghana, and Masters and PhD degrees in Geography from the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), Norway. His main areas of research include urbanization and regional development, and decentralization and local government. Currently, he is a Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) and the Director of the Centre for Urban Management Studies (CUMS) – all of the University of Ghana. Between 2012 and 2017, he was the Head of the Department of Geography & Resource Development, University of Ghana. Professor Owusu was a member of the core team of experts which drafted Ghana’s first ever National Urban Policy Framework (NUPF) and Action Plan, 2012. Between 2017-2018, he served as a member of a 9-member Commission of Inquiry appointed by the President of the Republic of Ghana to inquire into the creation of new political administrative regions in Ghana.