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Urban growth in Africa and Freetown

Watch video urban growth Africa Freetown challenges opportunities city planning development sierra leone informal settlement independence history

This video will bring you to the city Freetown and begin to introduce the scale of its urban expansion.

It is important to understand the historical context of the city in order to understand the current situation – including the legacy of colonialism and the planning that was undertaken at that time, which is still visible when looking at maps of the city centre.

This planned area of Freetown is now surrounded on all sides by the unplanned city that has grown around it. Remember, it is key not just to consider and understand the challenges presented by this rapid urban growth, but also the opportunities it provides.


Mansaray, L.R., Huang, J. & Kamara, A.A. Environ Monit Assess “Mapping deforestation and urban expansion in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from pre- to post-war economic recovery” (2016) 188: 470.

Viditz-Ward, Vera. “Photography in Sierra Leone, 1850-1918.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, vol. 57, no. 4, 1987, pp. 510–518. JSTOR, JSTOR,

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

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