New social-urban dynamics in African countries


The rapid urbanization of African societies is one of the most significant phenomena of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. However, this phenomenon, which is common to developing societies, manifests differently in Africa compared to Asia and Latin America in particular. By jointly examining this urbanization and the modes of production and economic systems specific to Africa, this class studies how urban transformations are accompanied by changes in the social structures of African societies. We will provide a general analysis and will examine the ongoing changes both in the structure of cities and in that of their buildings and will show how these changes translate and are reflected in rapid social change and in the emergence of considerable challenges. In order to best illustrate these transformations, the class will propose both a general and global overview of the phenomena and a detailed analysis of certain African cities.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

Students must show an interest in the processes of spatial and social transformation of human societies and examine them from economic, sociological and political perspectives. Some knowledge of how these processes manifest in Europe and possibly in other regions of the world would be appreciated.


  • Sustainable urban development in Africa, UN Habitat, report 2015.
  • African cities opening doors to the world, World bank, report 2018.
  • Transforming Africa’s Cities and Towns into Engines of Economic Growth and Social Development, AfDB Urban development strategies, 2018.
  • Dubresson A., Les grandes villes africaines : trois questions sur le futur urbain du continent, L'information géographique, vol. 67, n°1, 2003.
  • Kroeker L., O’Kane D., Scharrer T., Middle classes in Africa: changing lives and conceptual challenges, Palgrave, London.

Educational formula

The class is conducted using a well-illustrated PowerPoint presentation that presents the analytical and theoretical foundations of the social transformations linked to African urbanization and reveals the consequences in terms of changes in habitats, differentiation of spaces and neighborhood transformations (gentrification, verticalization, slum differentiation, displacement of impoverished communities and involuntary resettlement) in connection with the redeployment and specialization of economic activities. Students will form groups to study a specific city.

In brief

Year Fifth year

Teaching languageFrench

Teaching activityLecture course

ValidationFinal written examination

Mandatory teaching



Educational manager :
Darbon Dominique [+]