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Processes of change occurring today in the African continent offer an opportunity in order to study one of the main dynamics in the contemporary world: urbanization. The Third World Forum on Local Economic Development, hosted by the City of Turin from the 13th to the 16th of October, will be an important occasion to evaluate new strategies promoted by local authorities and their effects on cities life.

Coherently with this international event, the Centre for African Studies, with the Association for African Studies in Italy (ASAI), organizes an interdisciplinary conference on “Urban Africa”. The conference proposes the participation of internationally renowned keynote speakers specialized in urban studies from a political, historical, economic, anthropological, geographical and legal perspective.

Urban development is one of the most relevant transformations lived by the African continent in the last decades. According to a 2014 report by UN-Habitat (“African Urbanization”, Harvard International Review, 35(3)Winter), Africa is experiencing the fastest urbanization rate in the world at 3,6% per year, doubling the world average. Today, 40% of the African population lives in an urban environment, but in 2030 the number of urban dwellers will exceed 50%.  Urban centres on the rise are often multiethnic megalopolis, passed through by material and symbolic streams of global scale, places of exchange (economic, migratory and cultural), which constantly transform urban spaces and social patterns. New towns are born and 70% of the urban population lives in slums, meanwhile boundaries between metropolitan areas and the rural environment are more and more blurred. These chaotic and often contradictory changes pose new governance problems, as well as new challenges to the management of public goods.

The conference will require the participants to engage in a challenge: re-thinking the idea of Africa, abandoning stereotypes and reductionist visions, in order to explore complexities and opportunities, as well as limits and contradictions, of a continent which will have a more and more important role in a globalized world.