In Sub-Saharan Africa, its estimated that more than 60% of the urban population lives in slums. Africa is one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions of the world, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The continent’s proportion of urbanized population is projected to reach 60% by 2050. As the population of the continent also rapidly expands this will lead to more than one billion urban dwellers in Africa in the near future. If current trends continue most of these people will live in slums.

Mark Swilling heads the Sustainable Development Planning and Management program at the University of Stellenbosch, and he is concerned with the implications for sustainable development as Africa’s urban population increases. In a TEDxStellenbosch, Swilling describes how some African slums are undergoing a process of DIY urbanization. He describes how slum residents are compiling their resources to collectively improve their living conditions. The residents are working with architects and planners to restructure and organize their environment, and are operating in the complete absence of government assistance or business investment. As Swilling makes clear, such self-motivated development will play an important role in Africa’s future as urban slum populations continue to rise.

– Andrew Rasner

Sources: The Atlantic Cities, TEDxStellenbosch