Urban Governance and Turning African Cities Around: Lagos Case Study

Authors: Agunbiade, E. M. and Olajide, O. A.
Year: 2016
Type: Grantee publication – working paper

This study focuses on urban governance and how it has contributed in turning Lagos around; in parallel with studies in Luanda in Angola and Johannesburg in South Africa. The historical and political development of Nigeria and Lagos can be broadly categorised into three eras. The colonial era institutionalized discriminatory and exploitative urban governance policies in Lagos State. The protracted military rule in the post-colonial era worsened urban decay and decadence.

However, in the last decade there have been intense efforts to redirect the growth trajectory of Lagos through the implementation of major urban development projects. Between May 1999 and May 2015, Lagos was blessed with two visionary governors who successfully led the state to the path of change. This research offers in-depth insights into the governance of two flagship projects – the innovative Lagos Bus Rapid Transit and Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme.

The challenges of public transport and housing represent common and conspicuous urbanisation challenges in Africa. Access to decent and affordable housing, and an efficient and affordable transportation system are essential for human wellbeing. Moreover, to allow for a comparison between Lagos and other African cities being studied, a common thread in the selected projects was essential.

The data used for this research were collected through direct observations, desktop analysis, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. An analytical framework was developed to explore the level of capacity, inclusiveness, accountability and contestations of these flagship projects.

The commitment to transform cities and invest beyond conventional budgetary allocation has significantly altered the pace of development and is ‘turning African cities around’. Leadership capacity and political will to commit human, technical and financial resources to conceive, plan and implement projects are central to the transformation narrative of Lagos.

Key words: Urban governance, turn-around, housing, public transport system, leadership

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