Slums in developing countries are characterized by housing of poor structural quality, inadequate access to social and technical infrastructure, overcrowding and insecure tenure. According to UN-Habitat, approximately 70% of the urban population in Africa live in slums. While Africa is the least urbanized continent, it has some of the highest population growth rates, rates of urbanization and economic growth rates in the world. Accordingly, the African informal settlements are growing at unprecedented rates, sizes and densities to accommodate the rapidly increasing populations. The expected increase of African slum dwellers over the next 15 years is approximately 240 million. The rapidly urbanizing African cities are characterized by urban sprawl, inadequate infrastructure provision and underutilization of scarce resources, particularly land, which cause limited mobility and adds to the infrastructure deficit.
The extensive urbanization of Africa is partly caused by “pull-factors”, such as new job opportunities in the service and industrial sectors, as well as better access to education and health facilities. Meanwhile, “push factors”, such as decreasing job opportunities in rural areas, caused by opening of markets and technological advancement have amplified the development. Urbanization has been associated with important economic and social transformations, which have brought longer life expectancy, higher levels of literacy and greater access to social services, education and political participation. Nevertheless, rapid unplanned urban growth threatens sustainable development. Today hundreds of millions of Africa’s urban poor live under inadequate conditions, encompassing considerable challenges and substantial potentials to improve the living conditions of a large group of people.
Drone footage of the informal settlements in Maputo: