Geography & Environment Publications

Rapidly Growing African Cities Need to Adopt Smart Growth Policies to Solve Urban Development Concerns

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Urban Forum

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This study reviews the smart growth concept- and identity-specific principles that could be adopted by rapidly growing African cities. Given the macroeconomic reform changes over the last two decades and given the persistently high natural population growth and continuous influx of rural residents to urban areas, the application of these principles may ensure sustainable urban development. The main assertion of this paper is that due to the rapid spatial expansion of major African cities in recent years, a more informed and thoughtful approach to urban development is needed to achieve efficiency and long-term sustainability. The current urban development pattern, which is dominated by unlimited outward extension, low-density residential developments, and haphazard patterns, is unacceptable. This pattern is destroying prime agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands, while increasing air pollution and traffic congestion. This paper suggests that these problems can be addressed by the adoption of smart growth principles. Smart growth principles promote compact urban development by concentrating growth in existing urban areas. The principles also encourage creating a strong municipal government with the authority to implement land-use legislation and regulations, developing a comprehensive physical plan to guide the location and timing of development, committing strongly to manage urban areas, and providing a wide range of housing choices that are affordable to residents of various incomes, ages, and lifestyles. The central idea of smart growth is that structured and strategic planning supports economic growth, addresses community needs, and protects the environment.

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