Vanessa Watson

Africa’s strengthening economic growth and rising urban middle class has come to the attention of global property development and architecture firms seeking new regions for profit-making. This has unleashed a wave of new urban ‘plans’ in Africa, promising that Kinshasa, Lagos or Nairobi can also look like Dubai, Singapore or Shanghai. These new urban fantasies seek to erase the reality of these cities where the majority of the population are still extremely poor and live informally. Terms such as ‘smart cities’ and ‘eco-cities’ find their way into these new fantasy visions, but in fact the images presented suggest cities that are unsustainable in the extreme. New urban plans are pointing the way to what will be ‘splintering urbanism’ at a regional scale, as brand new ‘satellite cities’ offer a solution to the problem of building in current cities of slums.