Public Disclosure Authorized by the World Bank -
for Urban Development in Africa - 2006
The Legacy of Akin Mabogunje
Cities Alliance. Cities
Without Slums - UN-HABITAT.
Table of Contents
- Acknowledgments - Abbreviations and Acronyms
1.- Introduction: Themes, Paradigms and Paradigms Shits
As with contemporary human geography, the study of
cities is characterized by a diversity of approaches. This
diversity is well noted by Knox and McCarthy (2005,
p. 3), who observed that "urban geography has evolved
to encompass several approaches to its subject matter." This evolutionary
trend reflects a more general intellectual evolution in
geography and the social sciences, and can be attributed in part
to the quests for intellectual rigour and social relevance. This chapter
discusses the main perspectives in human geography and
provides an analytical framework for identifying and discussing
the trends in Professor Mabogunje's works on urbanization and
Although urban geography was his launching pad, Professor
Mabogunje broadened his study of cities to include the environment,
regional development, population, and other issues linked
to urbanization. This move to a more comprehensive perspective
was a natural progression for this doyen of urban geography and
planning. Cities are the engines of economic development (Knox
and McCarthy 2005) and industrialization, both of which impact
the environment. Cities can also generate regional development
and trigger rural-urban migration, an important population dynamic.
The interconnectedness of these issues is compelling.
2.- Urbanization and Urban Development
African Urbanization -
Urbanization and Economic Development -
Housing and Housing Finance -
Professor Mabogunje's work reflects the traditions in
urban and human geography that evolved during his long career.
This chapter examines urbanization and urban
development, major themes in his writings. He addresses
a wide range of issues, including urbanization in Nigeria and
throughout Africa, urbanization's impact on economic development
, urban management, housing and housing finance, and the
relationship between industrialization and urban development.
He began his academic career when the quantitative and theoretical
revolutions, which were the handmaidens of the spatial
analysis paradigm, were taking hold in geography.
His early work
on Urbanization in Nigeria was characterized by the theoretical and
analytical rigour associated with the spatial analysis perspective.
The book examines the role of cities in generating or hindering
development; housing and finance policies; the impact of mortgage
finance; low-income housing; public-private partnerships; urban
land-use; institutional frameworks for city management; urban
governance; and socially integrated and inclusive cities.
The theoretical orientation of his work means that he " . . . does
not see the urbanization process in Nigeria as unique in any way
but tries to show that it reflects the operation of much of the same
forces as have led to urban growth and development in other parts
of the world"
3.- Regional Development
Cities as Growth Poles for Regional Development -
Rural Development -
Geographic Perspectives on Development
Regional development -including agricultural and rural development- is a dominant theme in Professor Mabogunje's
works. Regional challenges include development
disparities, rural-urban inequality, and urban primacy
(Gore 1984). Regional development also encompasses top-down
and bottom-up strategies. An example of the former is the growth regional pole strategy,
which he popularized in both academic and policy
circles (Okafor and Honey 2004). The latter consists of various
approaches collectively labeled as neo-populism by some authors
The growth pole strategy is based on the assumption that
regional development and rural growth depend on urbanization
and industrialization. However, the failure of urbanization and
industrialization to stimulate regional development led to the
emergence of the neo-populist strategies that seek ". . . to reverse
the urban bias in current planning practice, to promote greater
equality and the satisfaction of the basic needs of the majority of
the population, to re-establish local and regional communities and
to avoid the centralization of economic and political decision-making"
(Gore 1984, p. 161).
4.- Environment and Development
The environment and sustainable development are recurring
themes in many of Professor Mabogunje's works. His writings
on cities, for example, address the issue of urban environmental
degradation. The urban economy impacts the environment both within and outside the city. At the core of environmental
degradation and sustainable development is population. The
rapid growth of human populations, especially in the developing
countries, has intensified the demand for natural resources and led to
increased exploitation of nature in ways harmful to the environment.
Manufacturing, which is generaliy associated with rising living
standards, is the cause of a range of environmental problems.
Today, globalization and the freer movement of capital are facilitating
the relocation of manufacturing industries to developing
countries where environmental laws are less stringent. Thus, environmental
problems are appearing in new locations, even though
many are global.
Poverty also has implications for the environment. For example,
low incomes and high energy costs in developing countries
mean that fuelwood is the primary domestic energy source. The
demand for fuelwood, particularly in the face of rapid population
growth, leads to rapid deforestation. Rapid population growth also
leads to increased demand for farm land, which contributes to
deforestation and causes soil degradation. Extreme poverty forces
people to prioritize physical survival over concerns for the environment.
In these circumstances, the environment is exploited to eke
out a living without an eye on conservation.
5.- Governance and Social Issues
Local Governance Finance -
Professor Mabogunje's works on governance and social
issues focus on democracy and local government. Like his
late compatriot, political scientist Claude Ake, he believes
that the principles of democracy are present in traditional
African political systems and that local governments should
emphasize decentralization and devolution of power to levels below
He proposes small territorial communities and neighbourhoods
as the basic building blocks of local governance.
In his view, these local governance are the most efficient structures to mobilize effective participation
and promote collective action on urban, regional, and rural development
issues. In the face of rapid urbanization and pervasive urban
poverty, local governments should look beyond conventional revenue
sources to raise funds for infrastructure development.
The advantages of small jurisdictions are clearly spelled out in
the literature on decentralization (Okafor and Honey 2004). These
include accessibility to government and essential social services,
and local preference maximization.
6.- Conclusion and Epilogue
Professor Mabogunje's last major work, State Of The Earth:
Contemporary Geographic Perspectives, a collection of essays by top geographers which he edited, provides a
comprehensive overview of the geography discipline.
Geography can be defined in different ways, but in essence it is
concerned with the description and explanation of the spatial patterns
of phenomena on the earth's surface. The phenomena are
both physical and human-created. They range from landforms and
climate-to diseases, human settlements, population, agriculture,
and industry-to poverty, crime, public services, elections, globalization,
and international aid.
Since its inception, geography has undergone changes in philosophy,
methodology and subject matter. As Johnston (1993, p. vii)
has it, "change in the external world is one of the major stimuli to
change in the discipline-on the theoretical apparatus on which it
draws, in the research methodologies its practitioners employ, in
the content of its educational curricula, and in its contributions to
influencing change." The quest for social relevance was also an
important stimulus for change. Among other things, State of the
Earth reflects the shift from modernist to post-modernist approaches
in Professor Mabogunje's work. The post-modernist
approach is evident in his interest in community and situating discourses.
His earlier works are characteristic of modernist stances
and the use of grand theories. As a comprehensive account of contemporary
geography, State of the Earth epitomizes the paradigm
shifts in the discipline.
Appendix - Curriculum Vitae: Akin Mabogunje
It has been fascinating to read the preceding chapters, which
attempt to encapsulate the diversity and evolution of my intellectual
concerns over the many years of my academic career. In
providing a postscript to this magnificent effort by Professor
Stanley Okafor, I must begin by expressing my very sincere appreciation
to him for taking on the challenging task of giving a structure
to a maturing process that was as imperceptible as it was
It is difficult for me not to re-emphasize that my intellectual
development was built on two foundations: the training in historical
geography at the University College, London, under the late
Professor H. C. Darby in the 195Os, and the quantitative and theoretical
revolution in geography that was such an important part
of my 1963 sabbatical leave at Northwestern University, Evanston,
Illinois. During that year, I had the pleasure of working closely
with Professors Bill Garrison and Ned Taaffe. Both experiences
sharpened my perception of the processes that shape the landscape
of countries at different points in their development. They prepared
me for a better understanding of Africa's situation as it
changes from largely precapitalist and colonial, to a statist and centrally
controlled political economy, to a democratic society and
1.1. Concepts in Urban Geography
1.2. Components of the Radical Approach
2.1. Pre-colonial Cities in Africa
2.2. Relationship between Population Growth and Rise in the Number of Urban Centres in Nigeria: 1950-2004
2.3. Modern and Traditional Sections of Ibadan
2.4. Three Generalizations of Urban Structure
2.5. Magnitude of the Slum Population in Nigeria
2.6. Shanty Town in Lagos
2.7. Traffic Congestion in Lagos
2.1. Population Growth Rates and Levels of Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa and Other World Regions 1950-2-15
2.1. The Central Place Theory (CPT)
2.2. Goals of National Urban and Housing Policy in Nigeria