Analysing four decades of literature on urban planning studies in Africa (1980-2020)

Although rapid population growth will give them a significant weight in global urbanization by the middle of the century, African cities remain little known. As a result, they are essentially outside the global intellectual arena on urban issues, which justifies the need for more productive quantitative and qualitive research. This article is a contribution to the achievement of this objective. It aims to empirically analyze the evolution of urban planning studies in Africa, by identifying the trends that characterize existing scientific production. The paper thus provides a clear picture of existing scientific production on urban planning studies in Africa through a systematic review of the literature over the last four decades. The study is organized around four levels of analysis: temporal analysis, thematic analysis, methodological analysis, and geographical analysis. These analyzes are based on data drawn from 268 rigorously selected journal articles. Thus, the study highlights major trends in the evolution of urban planning studies in Africa. It specifically shows the slow quantitative evolution of the production of scientific journal articles, which should be strongly accelerated, the overwhelming predominance of South African and Anglo-American research institutions in this area, as well as the link between research main topics and methodological approaches on the one hand, and the realities on the ground on the other. The study finally discusses the reinvention of research on African cities in accordance with its specific context, through methodological tailoring and innovations. It also highlights the internationality of the research results with the low output of African institutions, and the effects of language barriers. Some possible solutions to the challenges highlighted by the study are provided in conclusion.

Published in:
African Geographical Review

 Record created 2020-09-03, last modified 2020-10-26

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