There is an increasing recognition of the need to understand and address risks of various kinds in African cities. However, there have been very few explicit examinations of the way in which the specific characteristics of African urbanisation and urbanism drive risk, or the way in which responses to risk should take these characteristics into account. This paper presents a critical review of the key features of African urban experiences, and analyses the implications for the creation and reduction of diverse risks, from the everyday to the extensive.
It argues that the physical forms, social structures, economic pathways, and governance systems of cities on the continent shape their risk profiles. Of particular importance are the nature of spatial expansion, the demographic profiles of cities, and the prevalence of informal economies and settlements; while the reform of governance systems will be critical to enable risk reduction. The paper concludes that urban development actors need to consider the consequences of their actions for risk, while risk reduction practitioners will need to engage with all
elements of urban development, including informality, urban poverty, infrastructure and service provision, land management, and local governance capacity.