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With contributions from prominent urban planning scholars and experts in Africa, The Urban Challenge in Africa: Growth and Management of Its Large Cities, edited by Professor Carole Rakodi of the University of Wales, Cardiff, represents the latest in a series of books from the United Nations University Programme on Mega-cities and Urban Development.

Africa, long thought of as one of the least urbanized continents, will likely have over one half of its population in urban areas by 2020. The Urban Challenge in Africa introduces and highlights many important development issues in Africa. In addition to chapters on individual cities including Cairo, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, and Lagos, the book also explores important sectoral issues such as property markets, urban governance, and urban-rural linkages.

With the goal of examining the social, economic, and environmental aspects of large metropolitan centres, the UNU launched its research programme by organizing an international conference on Mega-city Growth and the Future in cooperation with the United Nations Population Division and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1990. The UNU later initiated an ambitious study of evolving urban systems at the regional level addressed to Pacific Asia, Latin America, and, of course, Africa. Mega-city Growth and the Future (the first volume in the series), Emerging World Cities in Pacific Asia, and The Mega-city in Latin America have already been released.

As the Rector of the United Nations University, I am proud that the UNU has been involved in research and dissemination on the issues of mega-cities and urban development since the early 1990s. I believe we have made a valuable contribution to related academic fields and the preparatory work for the United Nations Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey. It is my hope that this work will continue well into the next century through the UNU/Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS), the new research and training centre that started its activities in 1995 and is located next to the University headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

Heitor Gurgulino de Souza
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Rector
United Nations University

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