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The financial basis for urban administration

Typically the most buoyant taxes are retained by central government, and local authorities are left with less buoyant and politically more tricky revenue sources, such as property tax. This limited tax base, exacerbated by central government restrictions on rates, limited and erratic central-local transfers, poor performance with respect to collection and enforcement, out-of-date valuations, and the increasingly widespread occurrence of unenumerated property and economic activities, has meant that, invariably, the revenue available to local government has been insufficient for it to perform its functions (Stern, 1989a). As a result, it lacks legitimacy in the eyes of urban people and businesses, further curtailing its ability to generate revenue. Escape from this vicious circle requires political and legislative change, an injection of funds, and a more explicit political and practical strategy to deliver improved services, in order to increase legitimacy and thus increase the potential for further revenue generation and implementation of regulatory functions.

Both capital and revenue funds are needed for urban development. In the absence of well-developed capital markets, government action is essential to provide capital funds, although the transfer of responsibilities to local government without the powers and resources to fulfil these responsibilities, as Wekwete points out, is more typical. Backed by an injection of external funds and technical assistance to weaker local authorities, revolving municipal development funds administered by central government are a promising initiative in a number of countries including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, although Davey points out some of the pitfalls (Davey, 1993a,b). The promise of access to further borrowing in future provides a lever to improve local government financial management, although it can also be used to secure political compliance from elected local authorities. Revenue funding may be partly provided by central government transfers, especially if central government monopolizes most tax revenue, but the unpredictability of such transfers can hinder the planning and operation of local councils and so increased local resource mobilization is essential. Although there is insufficient space here to go into detail, research and guidance are emerging from the urban management programme (Bahl and Linn, 1992; Davey, 1993a,b). Both taxes on property and taxes on local economic activities are advocated.

Urban economic development

Economic activity located in urban areas is the driving force of urban growth and the jobs created the main attraction for rural migrants. Buoyancy in urban economies was taken for granted, especially in the years after independence, when expansion of the public sector and the pursuit of import substitution industrialization policies gave a boost to urban employment opportunities. Indeed, the economic preeminence of the largest cities was typically seen as a problem and measures (however ineffective) taken to divert investment elsewhere, either to rural development or to secondary cities and urban centres in rural areas.

Not until the drastic decline in urban infrastructural standards that followed recession and structural adjustment in the 1980s was the economic importance of adequate infrastructure widely recognized. This recognition was assisted by the continued failure of African cities to compete for international investment in manufacturing and services (especially compared with Pacific Rim Asian cities); by research that demonstrated the costs to manufacturers of poor infrastructure and the important contribution made by economic activities located in urban areas to national economic growth; and by pressure from a growing business lobby that, especially where entrepreneurs had emerged from the informal sector, was less dependent on the state for its access to the means of production and accumulation than before.

The health of city economies has not, except more recently in South Africa, been within either the legal remit or the area of concern of local government, or indeed of central agencies responsible for local services, which have been preoccupied with routine administration, service provision, and political survival (Harris, 1992). Analyses of city that chart trends in demand for the package of goods and services produced in the city, identify activities with current or future comparative advantage, pinpoint constraints on the productivity of economic enterprises and their labour force, and analyse the spatial distribution of economic activities in the city and the links between them, as a basis for formulating economic development policies, are rare. Rogerson in chapter 10 advocates such studies and a more proactive role for public agencies in local economic development. The "urban managers" in this context, Harris (1992) suggests, comprise the local authority, the chamber of commerce, and relevant industrial, commercial, financial, and professional associations (and, I would add, labour unions).

Some initiatives were mentioned in the case-studies, for example Nairobi's City Convention, the alliance between local government, big business, and inner-city residents to revitalize Johannesburg's CBD, and collaboration between local authorities, employers, and infrastructure companies to improve security and services in the Ikeja and Apapa areas of Lagos. The number and scope of such alliances in contemporary African cities compared with nineteenth-century and contemporary cities in, for example, the United States, Japan, or Europe are, however, limited. This reflects the absence of large-scale indigenous enterprises; governments' assumption that the management of the economy, installation and operation of infrastructure and services, and provision of housing were their responsibility; the lack of encouragement given to alternative associations during the authoritarian and statist post-independence decades; and the inheritance of good-quality infrastructure in the formally planned parts of cities, which, at least initially, was in working order. The forging of such alliances between local politicians and entrepreneurs (large and small scale), backed by officials more prepared to be proactive than traditional local government bureaucrats, can be expected to become more common in future, although the formation of politically strong local alliances in the largest cities is likely to provoke ambivalent reactions by central governments, even if they are committed to democratization and decentralization.

Infrastructure and services

One of the most visible and disturbing characteristics of the poorer cities... is the decline of their infrastructural base. As urban populations grow, and as available resources decline, public infrastructure is being degraded to a point where cities are seriously losing their capacity to operate as productive entities... In many African cities... refuse is uncollected and piles of decaying waste are allowed to rot in the streets; schools are... overcrowded; some urban roads deteriorate into quagmires in the rainy season, and are pitted with dangerous potholes during the dry season;... private telephones... are an impossible dream; public transport systems are becoming seriously overloaded; and more and more people are obliged to live in unserviced plots... Not only is little new infrastructure constructed, but existing infrastructure is poorly maintained. (Stern, 1991, p. 7)

Stren's analysis refers to African cities in general. The situation he describes is characteristic of large parts of some of the cities described in this volume, especially Nairobi, Lagos, and Kinshasa, and is becoming increasingly widespread in lower-income areas of the others (see also Ngom, 1989, on Dakar; El Sammani et al., 1989, on Khartoum). The situation is even worse in many smaller cities and poorer countries (Onibokun, 1989).

Stren and White's research in the 1980s showed that most water and electricity supply agencies in African cities were either central government parastatals or attached to central government ministries. In most cases, supply has failed to keep pace with urban growth. Where local government continues to be responsible, experience varies, from Zimbabwe on the one hand, where the supply of water has generally kept pace with urban population growth, to Kenyan local authorities on the other. However, problems should be attributed not only to local government failings, but also to central government policies and inaction. In some francophone countries, the water supply function is contracted out to private companies. The Côte d'Ivoire's experience is that such an arrangement can be efficient if the company concerned is given adequate autonomy with respect to operation and pricing, although there can be difficulties in ensuring supply to low-income areas (Stern, 1989b). An intermediate arrangement, of a national (Ghana) or municipal (some Zambian local authorities) public sector company, is becoming more wide spread, as countries attempt to improve efficiency without outright privatization.

Waste management arrangements in most cities are also far from satisfactory. Whereas anglophone countries rely on a public service, elsewhere solid waste collection may be subcontracted, to a single company as in Abidjan, or to local entrepreneurs (Stern, 1989b). Whatever the arrangement, effectiveness is inhibited by inappropriate collection arrangements and shortages of foreign exchange to import equipment, and equity is reduced by the lack of finance to subsidize services in low-income areas where necessary.

The failure of land subdivision and servicing programmes to keep pace with urban growth, which has led to widespread illegal and informal development, and not only of low-income areas (see below), has hindered the extension not only of water, electricity, and solid waste collection services but also of adequate sanitation arrangements and road networks to large areas of Africa's cities. In the absence of collective sanitation arrangements, households are forced to devise individual solutions suited to their incomes and physical circumstances. Reliance on pit latrine sanitation can give rise to groundwater pollution and problems occur as density rises, while the use of septic tanks needs to be backed up by private or public sludge removal services and suitably located disposal sites. Where waterborne sewage disposal to conventional treatment works is available, it is costly, limited in coverage, and poorly operated, because revenue and foreign exchange shortages have made it increasingly difficult to obtain spare parts and maintain systems. As densities increase, unacceptable levels of sharing occur, or residents cannot get access to any toilet facility and are forced to "use the bush" ("free range" in Accra). Both have adverse health and environmental implications.

In the early years after independence, public transport was typically a public monopoly, whether a parastatal bus company or a local government function. Invariably it was inadequate, owing to shortages of foreign exchange for parts and new buses and poor management. Increasingly, the public monopoly has been supplemented or replaced (legally or illegally) by private operators, a trend that increased its momentum with economic liberalization. Although the availability of public transport has generally improved as a result, the failure of the public sector to provide an adequate road network results in patchy coverage and high operating costs, while its inability to regulate the private sector has resulted in poor safety standards and sometimes violent competition to ply particular routes.

A review of the privatization of urban services in Asia suggests that the advantages, in theory, include competition, leading to lower production and delivery costs, increased efficiency, better access to current technology, greater capacity to obtain and maintain capital equipment, more flexibility and speed in decision-making, and reduced pressure on government. However, opposition is likely from political leaders who control patronage and from public sector unions, as well as from some consumer groups and low-income residents' organizations, who fear higher costs. In addition, private and NGO management skills may be poor and, where financial markets are undeveloped, private contractors may not be able to get access to capital. Finally, services that are collective goods, those that require lumpy investment, and those for which it is difficult to charge users directly are unsuitable for privatization. Privatization may occur through a variety of mechanisms, including sale of public assets, deregulation and liberalization, contracting out, public-private or public-NGO partnerships, transfer to NGOs, and government support for private providers (Rondinelli and Kasarda, 1993). Lessons from the Asian experience for African cities demonstrate the need to take care in designing the mechanisms for private/NGO involvement, to devise a workable regulatory framework, and to select only those services for which privatization is appropriate (for example, transport, housing, refuse collection, and perhaps aspects of health care) (see also Davey, 1993a,b). Institutional reforms related to service provision are under way in African cities. Wekwete, in chapter 15, describes a shift from a public sector-based approach to urban management to a public private sector model. However, he stresses the uncertain future of the new approach, owing to its reliance on external funding, its dependence on cooperative relations between central and local government, and the lack of formal structures at city level through which NGOs and CBOs can be systematically involved in decision-making. In addition, he notes the lack of evaluation of recent attempts at privatization and related changes, to update the review carried out in the 1980s (Stren and White, 1989).

Housing, land, and planning

Public sector housing policies focused initially on the provision of complete house units, typically for public sector employees as well as low-income groups. To some extent this approach has been superseded by sites and services, but neither has succeeded in matching supply with demand, let alone need, for a variety of reasons, including inadequate land administration systems, lags in infrastructure provision programmes, lack of capital, shortages of building materials, and limited capacity in the construction sector. As a result, most additions to the housing stock have been made by the private sector, with quantitatively by far the largest contribution coming from individual households and small landlords. Almost invariably, at least one aspect of this housing is illegal - lack of formal land tenure failure to obtain development permission, failure to satisfy building regulations, or disregard of rent control. It is financed, built, and exchanged outside the formal systems for mortgage lending, construction, and sale.

Where pressures on land are greatest and infrastructure most deficient, the quality of accommodation can be appalling, but much of the housing produced is adequate to satisfy basic needs for shelter. Thus infrastructure improvements and provision of education and health services are much more important than improvements to the dwelling in improving the quality of the residential environment. Whereas regularization and upgrading programmes were accepted reluctantly by politicians and officials in the 1970s, there are signs of a new realism as the financial and administrative weakness of public agencies has become increasingly clear, and the potential of more participatory community-based approaches to infrastructure installation and operation is demonstrated in residential areas, often with donor and NGO assistance. The need to regularize informal tenure arrangements sufficiently for them to be used to generate revenue may assist in this process (Durand-Lasserve, 1993). However, it should be recognized that regularization of unplanned areas is no substitute for a rapid land subdivision and strategic infrastructure investment programme linked to a land-use planning process.

This is not to advocate a return to the land-use master plans of earlier decades, with their inappropriate levels of detail, inflexibility, dependence on foreign consultants for preparation, and lack of connection to resource allocation decisions. The assumptions on methods of implementation, administrative capacity, and planning standards built into that approach to planning are demonstrably inappropriate (Stern, 1989b; Devas and Rakodi, 1993b; see also Findlay and Paddison, 1986, on Tunis and Rabat; Dubresson, chap. 8 in this volume, and Attahi, 1991, on Abidjan). Strategic planning in which land-use and other policy proposals are linked to capital investment programmes is needed, together with more detailed guidance for development control in some areas. such as the CBD, and more action-oriented approaches to development or improvement in others. Increasingly, adaptive responses are becoming more common than coercive removal of offending structures or people, but there is still political and bureaucratic resistance to "lowering" of standards, while the flexibility of strategic planning frameworks compared with zoning maps also increases the opportunities for corruption in decision-making on development applications.

Environmental problems

Related to deficiencies in infrastructure provision and waste management, environmental problems also arise from the inability of public sector authorities to enforce regulations governing land development, industrial emissions, etc. The urban poor are most exposed to environmental hazards because they are most likely to depend on untreated water, to live in risky areas, to be unprovided with sanitation and solid waste collection services, to live in overcrowded conditions and work in unregulated enterprises, and to be exposed to high levels of indoor pollution from cooking fuels. Their vulnerability to ill health arising from environmental problems is increased by poor nutrition and inadequate access to health care. Action on environmental problems is more likely to occur, however, when the better-off are affected, as for example by air pollution, contaminated food, or bad effects on economic activities such as tourism. It may also follow disaster. Thus many unsustainable practices and environmental problems are not tackled until disaster occurs or until organized groups increase the pressure for change. Action is needed both to tackle negative externalities such as pollution directly and to monitor the upstream resource-using and downstream disposal or recycling of wastes in the city and its region.

Guiding and controlling urban growth

Should African countries try to restrain the growth of their largest cities? The largest cities probably are more expensive per head of population to service and may have absorbed a disproportionate share of public investment. However, they generally also contribute a major share of GDP. In addition, there is no evidence that, if given scope to raise revenue locally and use appropriate standards, they need be a drain on government resources or that disamenities are necessarily greater in very large cities (Richardson, 1993). Appropriate levels of investment and development programmes in rural areas are needed. There is also scope for increasing the attractiveness of secondary cities by supporting the development of economic activities linked to their hinterlands, investment in infrastructure, and development of greater institutional capacity. However, even if such programmes are successful, they are unlikely to have more than marginal effects on the rate of growth and size of the largest cities. More important for the latter, therefore, are improved management, some of the components of which have been discussed above, and spatial restructuring. The latter is one of the main concerns of El-Shakhs, who in chapter 14 advocates the acceptance and promotion of urbanized corridors, such as the one that is developing between Cairo and Alexandria, and decentralization of urban growth within city regions in preference to continuous expansion of the built-up area.

This volume has been concerned with both the dynamics of urban growth and development and its management. The summary of key trends and issues has, more than once, referred to incomplete knowledge and unanswered questions. Neither improved understanding nor more adequate responses to the challenge is possible without better data on and analysis of urban characteristics. The final section of this chapter will, therefore, outline some of the outstanding research needs that have been revealed.

Research priorities

As part of a large project funded by the Ford Foundation to review recent research on urban areas in the developing world, five regional reviews were carried out in Africa (Stern, 1994). While mainly concerned to identify and summarize research undertaken during the past 30 years, the project also aimed to outline a research agenda for the 1990s. The research priorities identified below arise from the experience of producing this volume for the United Nations University, but parallels with the views of contributors to that project will be noted.

The biggest problem in identifying the relationship between global forces and urbanization in Africa, trends in urbanization, the characteristics of cities, and the outcomes of policy and management interventions is the lack of both basic data and original research. This volume has been written in the absence of recent reliable census data for the majority of countries and cities considered. Ascertaining the dimensions of and trends in urbanization in the absence of such data is virtually impossible, hence the accounts are full of estimates, general statements, and alternative figures, where greater precision is desirable. Although urban trends and characteristics are better documented in some countries and cities than others, owing not only to the absence of census and other published data but also to the incomplete topic and disciplinary coverage of urban issues, nowhere is the level of knowledge satisfactory. The papers in this volume, especially but not only the thematic papers, were designed as reviews of existing knowledge and data. They are, indeed, valuable reviews and many draw on sources that are inaccessible to an international readership within and outside Africa. However, what can be learnt from existing work, which declined noticeably in the 1980s, especially in eastern Africa, has, in my view, largely been exhausted. The research priorities identified below cannot be addressed without substantive new research, drawing both on national data and on primary data collection designed to elucidate the specifically urban issues outlined. At both the national and city levels, better use needs to be made of available data, especially census data. However, formally collected data are not always suitable for addressing the critical issues identified below, and they need to be supplemented by both nation- and city-wide studies and smaller-scale quantitative and qualitative data-collection exercises. As donor and country interest in urban development increases, the need for improved knowledge of urban dynamics and the outcomes of policies and management practices poses a challenge for research funders and researchers alike.

The urban economy

A better understanding is needed of the dynamics of urban economies because, without this, it is impossible to judge the efficacy of any policies aimed at urban economic development and employment creation. Sector studies that embrace enterprises of all sizes are needed. They should explore the potential of and constraints on enterprises of different sizes, as well as links between them and with other sectors in terms of subcontracting, training, transfer, and labour movement. Obvious candidates are leather, food processing, textiles and clothing, wood processing and manufacturing, construction and building materials production, business services, and wholesale and retail trade. However, there is also some evidence to show that the potential of and constraints on enterprises of different sizes have some similarities. Thus there is also a need for intersectoral studies of large, intermediate, small, and micro-enterprises, in order to ascertain what the outcome of structural adjustment policies and past support programmes has been and what type of support programmes might be appropriate in future. Not only should business enterprises be studied as discrete units, but the associations between them, in addition to processes and procedures for operating contracts, accessing credit, and regulating malpractice, should also be examined. It is important to consider both formal and informal associations and procedures. First, associations of small-scale enterprises may come to be as significant as the traditional associations of large enterprises, such as employers' federations or chambers of commerce, in the less state-centred model of policy development likely to emerge in future years. Secondly, the procedures and operating practices evolved by small-scale businesses may be more appropriate and workable for African countries today than those that typify the large-scale sector, for example with respect to accessing credit (Tripp, 1992; Halfani, 1994, 1995; Attahi, 1994; Kharoufi, 1994; Onibokun, 1994).

As competition between the largest cities to benefit from trends in the global economy increases and becomes more explicit, studies of the comparative advantage of cities, the way in which stakeholders within them articulate their economic interests, and the scope for cooperation, if not at a continental then at a regional level, are needed. In addition, evaluations of the prospects for and components and outcomes of local economic development strategies are needed (Swilling, 1994).

Urban society, poverty, and equity

To underpin both economic development and urban politics and governance (see below), a deeper understanding is needed of the social changes taking place in cities, especially given the strains generated by the rapid socio-economic changes currently taking place and the importance of household structures and social networks in enabling urban residents to cope with economic deterioration and declining investment in social services. The themes to be investigated include the family and social networks, culture, community, and crime and insecurity (Halfani, 1994; Swilling, 1994). The social and cultural consequences of urbanization, in particular social disorder and urban violence, which appear to be on the increase, are also emphasized by Onibokun (1994), as is the need for study of social movements by Kharoufi (1994).

Attempts to improve understanding of urban poverty are under way (Rakodi, 1995a; Vanderschueren et al., 1996) and need to be taken further by assessments of whether the holistic conceptualization of urban poverty currently being advocated is an advance on earlier concentration on poverty lines, both analytically and in terms of policy formulation (Attahi, 1994; Onibokun, 1994). The implications of recession in general, structural adjustment policies in particular, and political changes for the extent and nature of urban inequality and poverty need more systematic consideration, drawing on the national poverty assessments that are increasingly being funded by the World Bank, UNICEF and others. The response to increasingly widespread evidence of increased hardship has typically been the design, limited funding, and partial implementation of programmes to ameliorate the adverse effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes rather than reconsideration and redesign of structural adjustment policies. Although the scope for such programmes to do more than tinker at the margins of poverty appears to be limited, their effects need to be evaluated.

Land and property markets

The importance of the land market processes by which agricultural land on the urban periphery is converted for urban use was noted in chapter 11. The extent to which this is a legal process varies from city to city, but, except in one or two countries, such as Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, South Africa, most of the land development processes under way operate wholly or partly outside the formal legal process. The scope for universalizing formal freehold or leasehold tenure systems and effectively controlling subdivision and development seems limited in most African countries. If ways of guiding development to avoid the worst impacts of unplanned development and unregistered land rights are to be found, it will be necessary to devise systems that can work alongside prevailing land markets and development processes rather than futilely attempt to control them. A start has been made in devising such systems, for example in countries such as Uganda and by some agencies, such as the World Bank/UNCHS/UNDP Urban Management Programme for Africa (Durand-Lasserve, 1993), but, to make progress, a greater depth of understanding of existing informal and semi-formal processes is needed (see also Halfani, 1994; Onibokun, 1994). Such research should investigate the factors that determine processes and patterns of urbanization, including the tenure preferences of urban residents, property prices in relation to incomes, tenure systems in the rural areas surrounding cities, and the institutional framework for land management in the city and its surrounding region. Institutions in this context include official land management agencies and planning authorities, arrangements for coordination between those administering the city and those responsible for the surrounding rural areas, and social relations governing the rights of indigenous individuals and groups to use and dispose of land.

The extent and nature of the impact of cities on their hinterlands are relevant to this topic as to others (Halfani, 1994; Onibokun, 1994) - changes in economic activities in response to urban opportunities may either intensify rural land uses, for example intensive vegetable production for urban markets, or disrupt them as labour is withdrawn from agricultural production and holdings are subdivided. In addition to land tenure, urban employment opportunities and transport links are important influences on the extent to which urban sprawl occurs and the ways in which economic and spatial patterns and relationships in the city region are transformed.

Although the conversion of agricultural land for urban use will continue to be very important, as cities mature, markets in undeveloped land and property within the broadly built-up area become increasingly important (see Kharoufi, 1994, on the need to study the dynamics of resident mobility and property markets in old city centres in north Africa). Identifying and explaining trends in these property markets is essential to an improved understanding of urban dynamics and to devising appropriate policies with respect to, for example, bringing forward undeveloped land for development, redevelopment, or densification. A range of interventions in urban land markets are currently being implemented or considered in one or more cities in Africa. At present, our understanding of their likely impacts is limited and evaluations of attempts to implement them are needed. Relevant policies include:

- the use of capital investment in major infrastructure to guide new development;

- the imposition of high rates of property tax to encourage the sale or development of undeveloped land;

- the use of financial incentives and regulatory changes to encourage densification;

- decontrol of rents;

- community land trusts as an alternative to private individual tenure. especially for regularization of informal settlement areas.

Urban politics and governance

The failure of public administrative systems to cope with the challenge of urban growth in Africa has been relatively well documented. The exceptional cases where there is considerable administrative capacity at the local urban level have also been analysed (see, for example, Rakodi, 1995b, on Harare, and Pasteur, 1992, on Bulawayo in Zimbabwe; Smith, 1992; Swilling et al., 1991; and Tomlinson, 1994, on South Africa). Elsewhere, the extent of change to urban politics and governmental arrangements varies from very little to quite extensive. The differences are a result partly of the "variation in the degree of institutionalisation and richness of civil society in different countries, reflecting both historical and cultural factors and the coercive power of the state" (Healey and Robinson, 1992). The latter in turn governs the strategies open to people to challenge the prevailing political order, which vary from open criticism and opposition to the expression of discontent through disengagement from the state or non-compliance with state policies. Until the 1980s, most institutional effort and research had been directed to the built environment and formal institutional arrangements for management and politics. The state was seen as the main agent directing urban change and the sphere outside the formalized sector as an unintended by-product or pathology of a formal process of urban development (Halfani, 1995). Anecdotal evidence reveals recent attempts to democratize local government (both non-party political, as in Ghana's district assemblies and Uganda's Resistance Councils, and party political, as in Lusaka or Nairobi); attempts to strengthen urban local government and its planning, revenue-raising, and management capacities; and attempts to develop partnerships with NGOs and CBOs (e.g. in Freetown or Lusaka) and with private sector service providers. Systematic documentation and evaluation of the structures, relationships, and processes involved and their outcomes is, however, limited (Halfani, 1994), and indeed the conceptual framework for doing this is undeveloped.

Hyden (1992) suggests a number of conditions that facilitate good governance and therefore effective problem-solving, which could form the basis for a set of evaluative criteria:

(a) citizen influence and oversight, determined by the scope for political participation, methods of preference aggregation, and the means of ensuring public accountability;

(b) responsive and responsible leadership, including the degree of respect evident for the public realm, adherence to the rule of law, and the openness of policy-making - Manor (1995) distinguishes in this respect between bureaucrats, who should be accountable to elected representatives, and elected representatives, who should be accountable to citizens;

(c) social reciprocity, including the degree of political equality, the extent of intergroup tolerance, and the degree of inclusiveness in associational membership.

In the 1960s and 1970s, as discussed in chapter 2, international lending was focused on urban projects and little attention was paid to developing institutional capacity. This has changed more recently, but evaluation of the role of the aid agencies in promoting and supporting political reform and institutional development at the urban level is lacking. The main conclusion of Healey and Robinson's (1992) review of the role of these agencies at national level is that they have been extremely vague with respect to their recommendations on appropriate reforms to institutional structures and processes. At this level there is no clear association between regime type and successful reform, or between political liberalization and improved economic performance. Early research into institutional reform, for example with respect to the water sector in Ghana, demonstrates that it has proceeded less rapidly than economic liberalization and less rapidly than hoped for by the lending agencies.

Healey and Robinson's (1992) research agenda related to democracy, governance, and economic policy at the national level has obvious urban counterparts. Comparative studies are needed of:

- the institutional and procedural context of policy-making in established democratic systems of local government, focusing on how interest groups are consulted;

- the outcomes of democratization for the operation of urban local governments and their relations with central government;

- the political implications of decentralization and its impact on policy-making, resource generation, and implementation;

- the nature of urban actors (including central and local political institutions and bureacracies, traditional authorities, NGOs, CBOs, informal associations of residents, and the large- and small-scale private sector) and of the evolving relationships between them, as illustrated by policy-making, implementation and service delivery, operation and maintenance, at community, district/neighbourhood, and city levels (see also Halfani, 1994; Swilling, 1994).

Thus evaluations are needed both of reforms of public sector arrangements for urban management and of mechanisms and forums designed to incorporate a wider range of actors into policy formulation and decision-making, such as the UNCHS-facilitated Sustainable Cities Programmes in Dar es Salaam and Accra, and the Local Forums and Commissions in South Africa. Without neglecting the politics of urban government, Halfani (1994), Attahi (1994), Onibokun (1994), and Swilling (1994) also stress the need for structural and functional analyses of the institutions responsible for urban management and the operating systems they employ. To address this more specific focus on evaluating the effectiveness of urban management systems and urban governmental institutions, Davey (1993a, pp. 1-2) suggests the use of six criteria:

(1) technical competence in the choice, design, and implementation of infrastructure investment, and its operation and maintenance;

(2) efficiency in the use of resources;

(3) financial viability based on local revenue generation and sound financial management;

(4) responsiveness to the needs arising from urban growth and the ability to plan the city and its services ahead of, or at least in pace with, demand;

(5) sensitivity to the needs of the urban poor and appropriate weighting of public interventions to promote their access to basic services, employment, and shelter;

(6) concern for environmental protection, through public service provision and regulation of the private sector.

To summarize, there is a need to assess effectiveness with respect to service delivery, regulation, overall economic and physical development of the city, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection (see also Halfani, 1994; Attahi, 1994). Healey and Robinson's (1992) call for studies of how particular policy changes were initiated, designed, and implemented is as relevant to the study of the processes involved in urban management as it is at the national level. Finally, cross cutting all the research themes identified above is the need to identify gender differentiation and relations with respect, first, to access to urban resources and decision-making, and, secondly, to the outcomes of policy and practice.

The project of which this volume is the outcome set out to describe and explain the evolution of some of the largest and most important cities in Africa; to investigate the linkages between these cities and global, continental, and national urban systems; to assess the policy implications of present and future patterns of large-city growth; and to assess the performance of urban management systems in coping with urban growth. The lack of adequate data and research studies on which to draw, and the enormous differences between the countries and cities of continental Africa, have hindered our achievement of these aims. However, the material drawn together in this volume will, we hope, make a significant contribution to contemporary analysis of urbanization in Africa.


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