Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsHi. I'm Andrea Rigon, director of studies at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at University College London, and your lead educator on this course. Africa is an urbanising continent. Of the 30 fastest growing cities in the world, 21 are in Africa. Until 2035, the world's 10 fastest growing cities will be African. In the next four decades, Africa will need to accommodate 900 million new urban dwellers. We know that urbanisation has been key for the economic and social development of all regions in the world, and African vibrant cities, and their young populations, have the potential to thrive. Hi. I'm Joseph Macarthy, director of the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre and lecturer at Njala University.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 secondsI'm going to be your lead educator on this course. For too long, governments have been scared of urban growth and did not plan adequately. Half of Africa's urban dwellers live in informal settlements in precarious conditions. Urban growth is linked to growing inequalities and benefits are not shared equitably amongst residents. Understanding and reflecting upon urban development and planning issues is key to identify appropriate strategies and solutions for specific African cities. In this course, we will deal with the most crucial issues in development and planning of our cities. Urban land, informalities, governance, participatory planning, urban vulnerability, risk, health, and infrastructure. Follow us on this course.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to our course, Development and Planning in African Cities.

Your Lead Educators are Dr Andrea Rigon, Director of Studies, Bartlett Development Planning Unit at University College London, and Dr Joseph Macarthy, Executive Director, Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre, Njala University. You will also be assisted by Alexander Stone, Higher Education Officer at the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre.

Let’s begin!

What will we learn?

At the end of these four weeks, you should be able to:

  • understand how different processes interact and shape the urban development of a city
  • demonstrate an understanding of some key development and planning issues in African cities through a justice and spatial lens
  • gain an increased understanding of the tensions between wider theories and regional processes on one hand, and the exceptionality and complexity of specific urban contexts on the other
  • understand the specific and different roles and challenges of each actor in urban planning and development processes
  • demonstrate an understanding of Freetown urban challenges and potential solutions

Our approach will involve reflections from experts in diverse academic and professional fields with a wealth of experience in development and planning in African cities. These will be complemented with inputs from urban residents and case studies. We suggest that you turn on the subtitles for the videos because the contributors come from different parts of the world and have different accents. Moreover, some of the videos were shot outside in the vibrant and noisy city of Freetown.

A crucial part of the course is your participation in the collective reflections. Remember that each step features a comments area that you can use to share your thoughts and experiences. When you feel happy with the material and ideas covered in a step, please mark it as complete before using the arrow to move on. You can check your progress using the Progress tab at the top of each page.

Upgrading this course

Upgrading will offer unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn, so you can move through the course as quickly or slowly as you wish. You will also be able to access a Certificate of Achievement when you meet the criteria. Those working in an aligned field may find the Certificate of Achievement for this course useful for providing evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), or commitment to their career.

Find out more and upgrade now.

Free upgrade opportunity

If you would like to receive a certificate upon completion of the course, as well as unlimited future access to all course materials, you can upgrade via FutureLearn for $44. However, if you are from a non-OECD country*, we are offering you full sponsorship to upgrade for free.

If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please email SLURC, stating your full name and country. We will then issue you with a voucher code that you can enter on the upgrade page within the FutureLearn platform. All information collected from you will be stored and handled according to UCL’s Privacy Policy.

*(Not sure whether your country is an OECD member? If it does not appear on this list, then you are eligible for sponsorship).

We hope that you will find the course material thought-provoking and engaging. We very much look forward to learning with you, and hope you enjoy our course.

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This video is from the free online course:

Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

UCL (University College London)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: