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The African sustainable city: between utopia and reality

La ville durable africaine : entre utopie et réalité

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Published on Monday, April 17, 2023


Considering the future of Africa with its current demographic growth, refers to questioning the making of its cities in the next 3 decades. Concretely, how to think of the African cities of tomorrow? This international symposium focuses on the issue of the sustainable city in Africa by mobilizing researchers, practitioners and experts from different disciplinary fields, on the imperative of thinking today about the African city of tomorrow. This symposium will therefore sufficiently problematize the ways of imagining the African cities of tomorrow in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals. The urban fabric is questioned here on a variety of themes that allow us to understand the complexity of African cities.



The long-awaited African renaissance is currently much more concerned with foresight, which aims to detect the explanatory elements of the evolution of a society in order to develop forecasting tools, than with reality.  In an increasingly African world, sub-Saharan Africa is already a major player in the world's demography. "The region's contribution to world population growth will continue to increase considerably, from 11% between 1960 and 1980 to 16% between 1980 and 2000, then to 28% between 2000 and 2020, reaching almost 50% between 2020 and 2050" (Tabutin, & Schoumaker, 2020, p 224). It is now clearly established that population growth interacts with economic, social, cultural and environmental protection. After having undergone years of structural adjustment, African countries have inaugurated a neo-liberal model of strong growth but no real development, which is mainly reflected in rapid and anarchic urbanisation. "While only 15% of the population lived in cities in the 1960s, the urbanisation rate reached 27% in the early 1990s and is currently 41%. According to the latest UN projections (2018), urbanisation is expected to continue, reaching 50% by 2035 and 58% by 2050" (ibid, p 228). This urbanisation is particularly fuelled by population growth. "Between 1990 and 2020, the urban population increased more than threefold (from 136 million to 459 million).  More than 1.25 billion Africans will be living in cities by 2050. More than 1.25 billion Africans will be living in cities by 2050. Sub-Saharan Africa is therefore clearly becoming urbanised, and cities are expected to absorb nearly 80% of the continent's additional inhabitants by 2050” (ibid, p 229). It is also an urbanisation that is accompanied by a ramshackle living environment, galloping unemployment, exponential urban disorder, an increasingly polluted environment, etc.

Considering the future of Africa with its current demographic growth raises questions about the way its cities will be built over the next three decades. In concrete terms, how can we think about the African cities of tomorrow? The sustainability of African cities depends on good planning that aims to put an end to slums, urban disorder and anarchic urbanisation.  The planning in question here calls for land governance (Ouafi, & Assako, 2018) and requires the proper use of urban planning documents in compliance with international regulations on sustainable cities. To this end, the modalities for the implementation of sustainable cities (Esoh Elamé, 2016, 2022) in Africa can no longer be put off.

The present international colloquium, organised by the Douala 1 council municipality (Cameroon) in collaboration with the Cameroonian Society of Geographers (CGS), is an in-depth examination of sustainable cities and municipalities in Africa. The symposium is part of the UNESCO Heritage for Sustainable City (USC) project funded by the European Commission, which aims to make the Douala I council a sustainable and smart council that cares about its tangible and intangible heritage. It is a question of broadening the focus beyond the European USC project to concentrate on the issue of the sustainable city in Africa by mobilising researchers, practitioners and experts from various backgrounds. The question of the urban identity to be built, the imperative to think today about the African city of tomorrow, are major challenges for the present generations of the black continent. The aim of this colloquium will be to address certain societal issues concerning urban development with the immediate aim of designing and proposing tools and codes for reading what the sustainable African city should be. This conference will therefore sufficiently problematize the ways of imagining the African cities of tomorrow in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.  The manufacture of the urban is questioned here on a variety of themes that allow us to understand the complexity of African cities. These include:

Axis 1 –Thinking  the African city of tomorrow

  • The conceptualisation of the African city.
  • The Intercultural African city.
  • The African city and ethnic segregation.
  • The postcolonial city.
  • The contribution of the SDGs to the conceptualisation of the African city.

Axis 2 - Transition to sustainable African cities

  • Sustainable urbanisation of African cities.
  • Sustainable urban planning in African cities.
  • Sustainable cities in Africa.
  • Thinking the Smart City in Africa.
  • Urban and peri-urban agriculture.
  • Urban disorder in African cities.
  • African cities and social inequalities.
  • African cities and climate change.
  • African cities and land issues.
  • Sustainable cities and the ISO standards.

Axis 3 - Circular economy

  • Decentralisation, African cities and waste management.
  • Pre-collection of waste in African cities.
  • Waste collection in African cities.
  • Waste recycling practices in African cities.
  • Landfilling in African cities.
  • Wastewater treatment in African cities.
  • Circular economy and ISO standardisation.

Axis 4 - Educative cities

  • Cities and education for sustainable development.
  • Decentralization and educational policies in African cities.

Axis 5 - Transition towards citizen cities and city diplomacy

  • Participation in the decision-making process in African cities.
  • Decentralisation and local development.
  • Experiences of decentralised cooperation in African cities.
  • Pan-Africanism and city diplomacy.
  • Humanitarianism in African cities.

The list of issues presented here is of course not exhaustive. All topics related to the challenges of the African city are welcome. The conference is open to contributions that mobilise different methodologies, theoretical or empirical contributions. It is especially open to contributions from different disciplinary fields. Papers from a more critical perspective are also welcome. Disciplinary, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research on urban issues is also expected, coming from both theoretical analysis models, as well as empirical, field studies and practice analyses. Priority is given to the scientific quality of the work.

How to submit

Proposals may be written in English, French or Duala and should not exceed 5,000 characters (including spaces). Proposals should include the following information: the title of your proposal, the abstract, 5 key words, some bibliographic references and information on the author: surname, first name of the author, status, research team, institution and e-mail. Proposals for papers should be sent by e-mail to: colloque.usc@gmail.com  

before 30 April 2023.

The international colloquium will be held in a hybrid mode, both in person and online. Simultaneous translations from French to Duala and from English to Duala are foreseen.


  • Dissemination of the call for papers: 20 March 2023
  • Deadline for submission of proposals: 30 April 2023
  • Notification to authors: 15 May 2023
  • Reception of communications 15 July 2023
  • Evaluation of communications 15 August 2023
  • Reception of corrected communications 5 September 2023
  • Publication of the proceedings 10 December 2023
  • Colloquium : 14, 15, 16 December 2023

Registration fees

Participation in the conference is funded by the USC project of the Douala 1st council Municipality. Those registered for the colloquium will be able to participate in all activities and have access to participant materials, as well as participation in the gala dinner.

Travel and accommodation costs are at the expense of the participants. About twenty African researchers will only be able to benefit from the payment of their plane ticket to participate in the colloquium.

International Organizing Committee

  • Pr ESOH ELAMÉ esoh.elame@dicea.unipd.it
  • VANDI MOISE Vandimoise1393@gmail.com
  • Mme LARISSA WANJI larissa.wanji@yahoo.fr
  • Mme BELONE MOUANGUE reguybel@yahoo.fr
  • AKINI DAMSOU ARNAUD akiniarnaud@gmail.com
  • Dr KUTNJEM DAOUDA kutnjemdaouda@gmail.com
  • Dr. Nsegbe Antoine de Padoue ansegbe2001@gmail.com
  • Assako Assako René Landry Landryassako11@gmail.com
  • Dr. Anne Rose GOLLY N’DRY gollyndry@gmail.com
  • Mme LIBOM SIDONIE sidonielibom7@gmail.com
  • Fatima FALL fatima.fall@ugb.edu.sn
  • El Hadj Boun Daouda SOUMARE adc.coor@outlook.fr

Scientific Committee

  • ASSAKO ASSAKO RENÉ JOLY, Professeur, Université de Yaoundé 1
  • BEKA BEKA ANNIE, Maître de Conférences, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Libreville, Gabon
  • BA'ANA ETOUNDI MARIE LOUISE, Maître de Conférences, Université de Douala ;
  • DZALLA NGANGUE CHARLIE, Maître de Conférences, Université de Douala.
  • ESOH ELAME, Professeur, Université de Padoue, Italie
  • ETONGUE MAYER RAOUL, Professeur, Professeur émérite, Université Laurentienne, Canada
  • FATIMA FALL, Université Gaston Berger, Saint Louis, Sénégal
  • FOMBE LAWRENCE FON, Professeur, Université de Bamenda ;
  • FOGWE ZEPHANIA NJI, Professeur, Université de Bamenda ;
  • KOUADIO ANNE MARILYSE, Maître de Conférences, École Normale Supérieure d’Abidjan, Université Houphouët Boigny, Côte d’Ivoire
  • KOSSOUMNA LIBA'A NATALI, Professeur, Université de Maroua ;
  • LIEUGOMG MEDARD, Professeur, Université de Yaoundé 1 ;
  • MBAHA JOSEPH PASCAL, Professeur, Université de Douala
  • TOUMBA OUMAROU, Professeur, Université de Buea
  • YAPI DIAHOU ALPHONSE, Professeur émérite, Université de Paris 8
  • YEMMAFOUO ARISTIDE, Professeur, Université de Dschang ;


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Assako Assako R. J. (2012). « À propos de l’opération d’embellissement de Yaoundé, capitale d’Afrique centrale ». Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, 2012, n° 259, p. 371-393.

BAFD/OCDE/PNUD (2017) Perspectives Économiques en Afrique 2017, Entrepreneuriat et Industrialisation. Éditions OCDE, Paris, 344 p

Barthes A. (2017). Quels outils curriculaires pour des « éducations à » vers une citoyenneté politique ? Educations, Vol 17-1, Open sciences, International sciences and technical edition, ISTE London, p. 25-40

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Elamé, E. (Ed.). (2022). Sustainable Intercultural Urbanism at the Service of the African City of Tomorrow. John Wiley & Sons.

Elamé, E, Beka Beka Annie.,(2022).  Accès à l’eau potable : les grands défis pour le Cameroun et la Côte d’Ivoire, l’Harmattan, Paris, 190p.

Elamé, E. (2016).  La ville durable interculturelle, l’Harmattan, Paris, 1-267.

Gueliane, N. (2019). Habiter ensemble la ville en Algérie: Mixité sociale, vivre ensemble et ségrégation en question au M’Zab. Lucrările Seminarului Geografic” Dimitrie Cantemir”47(2), 163-176.

Lange, J.-M. (2014). Éducation au développement durable : intérêts et limites d’un usage scolaire des investigations multiréférentielles d’enjeux. In M. Fabre, H. Hagège & C. Reynaud. Les éducations à… et le développement de la pensée critique. Éducation et socialisation. Les cahiers du CERFEE. N°36.

Mouafo, D., & Assako, R. J. A. (2018). Gouvernance foncière et perspectives du développement urbain durable en Afrique. Les politiques de la ville en question: à la recherche d'une meilleure gouvernance urbaie en Afrique subsaharienne, 63.

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ONU-Habitat (2010) L’état des villes africaines 2010 : Gouvernance, inégalité et marchés fonciers urbains. Nairobi, Kenya, 268 p.

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  • Douala, Cameroon

Event attendance modalities

Hybrid event (on site and online)


  • Wednesday, May 10, 2023


  • ville durable, Afrique, pensée négro-africaine, développement durable, coopération décentralisée, économie circulaire, désordre urbain, ville éducative


  • Moise Vandi
    courriel : Vandimoise1393 [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Elame Esoh
    courriel : esoh [dot] elame [at] dicea [dot] unipd [dot] it


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The African sustainable city: between utopia and reality », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, April 17, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1azd

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