African Centre for Cities

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) is an interdisciplinary research and teaching programme at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, focused on quality scholarship regarding the dynamics of urbanization processes in Africa, with an eye on identifying systemic and sustainable responses.

Rapid and poorly governed urbanization in Africa points to a profound developmental and philosophical crisis. Much scholarship focuses on the development challenges but fails to provide adequate answers or proposals to reverse growing urban inequality, environmental degradation and social conflicts. There is hardly any sustained scholarship on the existential and cultural dimensions of African urbanism. In this context it is unsurprising that there are very few qualified and appropriately trained urban professionals and activists who can manage Africa's cities and towns. The ACC seeks to intervene into this situation by remaining rooted in context and building knowledge networks between durable research institutions across the Continent.

The ACC conducts a series of applied research programmes in Cape Town, South Africa and significant parts of Africa. The applied urban research is complemented with a rich academic research programme that seeks to support and enhance urban scholarship at UCT and in the knowledge centres we partner with.

The specific strategic goals of the ACC are to:

  1. Produce credible new knowledge on the drivers of urban crisis in mainly African cities, with an eye on co-designing systemic solutions.
  2. Provide tailored capacity development products/services based on new knowledge about the unique dynamics of urban development in Africa and the global South.
  3. Strengthen durable knowledge institutions and networks in Africa to undertake urban research and training (ACC being one).
  4. Promote and disseminate quality publications by African scholars on urban topics in general, but rooted in our programmes.
  5. Undertake targeted advocacy with influential agencies that shape the urban development agenda in Africa and the global South.


Participants at the Windhoek Transformational Workshop

Receptivity and judgement: expanding ways of knowing the climate to strengthen the resilience of cities

This paper discusses how receptivity of decision-makers, scientists and other knowledge-holders can be exercised and increased to enhance the co-production of actionable climate information.

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Dialogue for decision-making: the ‘City Learning Lab’ approach

The FRACTAL ‘City Learning Lab’ approach is designed to facilitate problem-solving at the intersection of climate change and urbanization trends across cities in Southern Africa.

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FRACTAL climate and cities project

The FRACTAL (2015-2019) project advanced scientific knowledge about Southern Africa's climate, and integrated this knowledge into decisions at the city-regional scale.

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cover image of the report

City-scale decisions

This chapter presents some of the frameworks and tools that are available for decision-making in the context of climate change, and highlights how climate change questions should be structured so as to ensure reasonable outcomes and avoid common errors

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Cape Town lessons in adapting

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53871365def4ca-framework-for - climate adaptation.

Strengthening climate resilience in African cities - A framework for working with informality

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