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Man, space and development in Sub-Saharan Africa

L’homme, l’espace et le développement en Afrique subsaharienne

Collections in honour of Professor Kengne Fodouop

Mélanges en l’honneur du Professeur Kengne Fodouop

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Published on Friday, May 13, 2022 by Céline Guilleux


Tout au long de sa carrière d’enseignant-chercheur, le professeur Kengne Fodouop, s’est investi sur la question des rapports entre l’homme, l’espace et le développement, à l’échelle de l’Afrique subsaharienne. L’utilisation que l’homme y fait de l’espace dans l’optique d’améliorer ses conditions de vie ou d’assouvir sa volonté de puissance, ainsi que les impacts négatifs qui en résultent, ont été au cœur de ses préoccupations de recherche et ont inspiré ses multiples publications scientifiques. À tout bien considérer, les travaux de recherche à l’actif de cette figure emblématique de la science géographique africaine, se rapportent à quatre champs thématiques majeurs : s’accommoder de la ville, les réalités des campagnes, les dynamiques entrepreneuriales et l’équation géopolitique en Afrique subsaharienne. Les mélanges à lui dédiés se proposent de mener les réflexions scientifiques y afférentes.



Where are the relations between man, space and development in sub-Saharan Africa today? In this region, space is the support for an extremely varied range of human efforts. In fact, man uses the space here to build cities, hydroelectricity dams or health care establishments; to develop farms and to organize more or less ingenious systems of production, transport and distribution of goods and services. He extracts the external wealth of space, ores from their deposits and transports them to centres of their industrial transformation. Under strong demographic pressure of cities, space becomes the support where man organizes new residential sites and new communication ways. Faced with population increase alongside a correlative increase in food needs, he intensifies agricultural, pastoral and fishing activities in the rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, man is constantly transforming space in order to improve upon his living environment as well as his existential conditions; he keeps modelling space for the benefit of everyone.

Right from the colonial era, space in Sub Saharan Africa not only engineered the pride and covetousness of men but also that of states. He claims ownership and further explores through conquests. Till date, all the military might have been demonstrated, either from near or from afar, for the purpose of space preservation, space conquest or space occupation. It should be noted that the possession of space is synonymous or a guarantee to geopolitical hegemony. Whatever space man finds himself, it is always a question of appropriation, of adaptation to it, of sharing and above all, of managing the space (Fabrice Ripoll and Vincent Vechambre, 2005).

It sometimes happens that by his action man reluctantly alters the space and brings about disequilibrium. In this wise, he releases wastes and toxic substances that pollute the air, soil and water and disrupt the functioning of the atmosphere. For purposes of management, man modifies the natural environment; he sometimes destroys living environment. However, the overall positive character of human action in space should not be overlooked, not to say ignored.

In what ways and for what reasons does man transform the space in which he lives in sub-Saharan Africa? What uses does man transform space? How have these uses evolved and what forms will they take in the future, knowing quite well that, human life has always been framed by spaces (house, garden, street, school, market, office, factory, hospital, etc.)?

Throughout his career as a lecturer-researcher, Professor Kengne Fodouop focused on the question of the relationship between man, space and development, on the scale of sub-Saharan Africa. The use space offers to man with a view to improving his living conditions or satisfying his power ambitions, as well as the resulting negative impacts, all constituted the heart of his concerns for research and have inspired his many scientific publications. Furthermore, the research works to the credit of this emblematic figure of African geographical science relates to four major thematic fields: adapting to the city, the realities of the countryside, entrepreneurial dynamics and the equation of geopolitics in sub-Saharan Africa. These collections dedicated to him propose to make scientific reflections in this direction.

Axis 1: Adapting to the city in sub-Saharan Africa

Presently, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that experiences the highest urban growth in the world. The demographic explosion of urban populations mainly concerns the big cities, especially the capital cities, which are undergoing extremely rapid transformations. In fact, with an average growth rate of 7% per year at the end of the 1980s (Cherel, 1994), this phenomenon of urbanization even took on an "explosive" dimension in many countries. This accelerated growth of cities, which actually took off in most of the States of the region at the beginning of the 1960s, after independence, is indeed taking place within the contexts of deep economic, political and social crises, the consequences of which can sometimes lead to bloody situations. In this context, the city, especially the big one, represents the only space for promotion or simply for survival for millions of people. Unfortunately, the absence of a real urban tradition (most large cities in sub-Saharan Africa are of colonial creation) and the failure of urban policies long imposed by public authorities have considerably reinforced complications. The axis proposes to address issues related to the following sub titles: Dynamics of urban ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa; participative urban management; the degradation of the urban environment; the challenges of urban explosion; supplies to the cities today; urban mobility; urban productive spaces; the urban society, between tradition and modernity; solidarities in the urban milieu; dynamics in social practices in the urban milieu; gests and languages of resilience.

Axis 2: Rural realities in sub-Saharan Africa

What has become of the countryside in sub-Saharan Africa? Does the countryside of today reflect those of yesteryears? Until the mid-1980s, the countryside in sub-Saharan Africa was heavily dependent on cash crops (coffee, cocoa, cotton, peanut, etc.), direct state subventions through various structures and other technical support services, marketing and stabilization of agricultural prices (Gareth A., 2010). They were marked by a relatively stable social cohesion, and were were almost spared from open land disputes. Finally, production techniques were rudimentary despite some mechanization attempts in some countries. But for the past three decades, the countryside has been the theatre of multifaceted transformations induced by various factors including the proliferation of peasant organizations, the amplification of return migrations, the penetration of NICTs, the introduction of certain practices related to urban lifestyles, the land acquisitions of foreign and especially Asian firms for external food production, the amplification of the exploitation of natural resources (forests, mines, etc.), the pressure of national political and economic elites on the land. The physiognomy of the countryside has been profoundly changed leading to the proliferation of land conflicts, multiplication of rural estates of city dwellers, large-scale use of techniques and tools focused on agricultural intensification, modernization of housing, dissemination of urban-type services. All these transformations are taking place within the context of persistence or even acceleration of the rural exodus. The axis proposes to address the impact of globalization in the countryside, the changes in production systems, land conflicts, the increased links between rural and urban areas and the faces and contemporary forms of poverty in rural areas.

Axis 3: Entrepreneurial dynamics

Thanks to the economic liberalization and socio-economic transformations that sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing since the beginning of the new millennium, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship have been the subject of particular enthusiasm. For some authors, these entrepreneurs are nothing less than those “who today create the economic and social history of the continent” (Severino et al., 2016). Such enthusiasm is however not new. If in the 1960s and 1970s, the “entrepreneurial bottleneck” thesis (Kilby, 1971) dominated and justified the entrepreneurial state, the neoliberal wave of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) went off in the 1980s and up to in the early 1990s, rehabilitating private initiative. Within a strategy aimed at restoring markets and symmetrically reducing the role of the State, the figure of the entrepreneur is magnified, idealized, including in its most atypical forms previously neglected such as small informal entrepreneurship (De Soto H., 1986). Indeed, the SAPs that were implemented led to the reduction of civil servants and the elimination of accrued benefits in public administrations, thus bankruptcy and closure of many modern private companies. The rise in urban unemployment, a logical consequence of the economic crisis and the adoption of SAPs was then accompanied by the expansion of the informal sector, including small street trades (Kengne Fodouop, 2010; Kengne Fodouop and Metton, 2000; Charms, 1992). Undeniably, the entrepreneurial fact in sub-Saharan Africa is today presented or mediated in new ways, but what is it really? In this axis, it is a question of approaching the entrepreneurial fact in the plurality of its configurations and of highlighting the specific forms which emerged and have emerged in the field in recent years. Thus, the axis addresses issues related to civil society in the service of development in sub-Saharan Africa, female entrepreneurship, daily resourcefulness, the dynamics of the interstitial economy, civil society and social mobilization, entrepreneurship and development of micro-enterprise, the dynamics of commercial and merchant circuits, national SMEs faced with South-East Asian competition and contemporary social practices to the rescue of the economic situation.

Axis 4: The geopolitical equation

In a world of perpetual change, the African countries south of the Sahara which all resulted from the sharing of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, today face many national and/or transnational geopolitical situations. At the beginning of the 1990s, the national conferences that came up following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the former Soviet bloc brought about a new wave of democratic demands, which seem never to find an end. The manipulation of election results, signs of refusal to accept the rules of the democratic game and the use of intimidations and repressions on opposition movements by the powers in place are often the root causes to disturbances and other post-election conflicts. The countries of sub Saharan Africa, especially the majority of them, are still in search of a genuine democratic culture. The leaders in place have often adhered to it only half-heartedly, constrained and forced by international and national contingencies (Babacar Guèye, 2009). Exasperation and disputes feed on the economic and social frustrations of a majority of the population, condemned to an uncertain future, to misery, unemployment, exploitation. They also manifest aspects of competition for control and the exercise of power between the elite who consider the principle of alternation as a rule of political hygiene which allows other categories of people, other interest groups, even from other "regions" or “communities”, to participate in the distribution of posts of responsibility and income. In sub-Saharan Africa, the desire to liberalize political life manifests itself in the daily demands of the populations for more democracy and more decentralization. And that's not all: sub-Saharan Africa is endowed with abundant natural resources (land resources, forests, petrol and minerals) over which the Western, Chinese and Russian powers seek to secure control and exploitation, sometimes through force, and which the political and economic elite of the sub-region covet. This axis of contributions in honour of Professor Kengne Fodouop seeks to provide an in-depth analysis of the geopolitical equation, at the scale of sub-Saharan Africa, given that this scholar worked for years to address some of the most salient issues. It focuses on the following questions: national conferences in sub Saharan Africa: what results?, the process of democratization at work in sub-Saharan Africa, borders and cross-border dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa, sub-Saharan Africa faced with the ambition of socioeconomic and political emergence, the future of regional economic groupings in sub-Saharan Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, object of rivalry between the great powers, the contributions of geographical research to the reduction of crises in sub-Saharan Africa, the countries of sub-Sahara Africa in the face of decentralization paradigm and local development.

Axis 5: The man and his work

Of Cameroonian nationality, Professor Kengne Fodouop is unquestionably one of the most talented figures in African geographical science of his generation. During his brilliant career as a lecturer researcher, he taught courses in various university institutions in Cameroon, France, The Netherlands, South Africa, Togo and Gabon. He was Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of the University of Dschang from 2003 to 2005 and headed the Department of Geography of the University of Yaoundé I from 2005 to 2009. Vice-president of the Association of African Geographers from 1992 to 2009 and the Study Group of the International Geographical Union called "Globalization of Trade" from 1996 to 2006, he served as President of the National Committee of Geography of Cameroon from 1993 to 2021. He held the position of director of the Cameroon Geographical Review from 2000 to 2010 and participated in 43 international conferences and 59 national conferences. To date, he has supervised 24 Doctorate/Ph.D. in Geography in four Cameroon State universities (Universities of Yaoundé, Buea, Douala and Maroua) and co-supervised theses in three French universities (Universities of Paris X-Nanterre, Bretagne Occidentale and Paris XIII). So far he counts 71 scientific peer reviewed articles and 26 books published in Cameroon, France, Morocco, Togo, Germany, South Africa and Canada, on the themes of urban and rural dynamics, planning and the sustainable development of territories, the interstitial economy, transport and mobility and African geopolitics. This thematic axis of contributions dedicated to him, wishes to welcome narrative contributions, of a maximum of 10 pages, on the man and his work. These contributions should scale through the social life of Professor Kengne Fodouop, his relationships with his students, his friends, his colleagues and his other fellow citizens. Furthermore, focus will be to address his family life, his love for sports, his favourite dishes and other hobbies as well as his attachment to religion, managerial skills as well as his fluency in speech and his conception of the world. In short, they will focus on the seasoned Geographer, engaged in social life, to use the famous expression of Professor Serge Morin, Vice-President of the Bordeaux-Métropole Development Council (2022). On the other hand, the contributions will report on the scientific work of Professor Kengne Fodouop in its chronological development, his academic career from primary school to university, the range and quality of his publications and the repercussions of these on society, his style of writing, his relationship with the media, and his approach to the problems of his country during his career. Finally, they will examine the dedicatee's commitment to improving living conditions in sub-Saharan African society plagued by injustice, ignorance, heinous crimes, corruption, mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, to the loss of moral values, in short, to everything that can constitute a barrier to human progress and happiness.

Modalities and deadlines for submitting proposals

Proposals for abstracts of contributions should not exceed 300 words (Book Antiqua font size 12, single spaced). They must clearly indicate the axis in which the proposal fits, the title of the article, the problem, the methodology that will be used and already suggest the main articulations of the plan. Abstracts must be sent in French or in English, accompanied by a maximum of five keywords, as well as a summary presentation of the author (names, institution of attachment, email address). Abstracts are expected at the following address: melangesprofesseurkengne@yahoo.com

Important dates

  • May 10, 2022: Launch of the call for contributions in honour of Professor KENGNE FODOUOP;
  • August 10, 2022: deadline for submission of abstracts of articles;

  • September 10, 2022: notifications of acceptance or rejection of article proposals to authors (an email of acceptance of the proposal will be sent to the authors concerned with the instructions for writing complete articles);
  • March 10, 2023: deadline for submission of complete articles.

Scientific coordination

  • Pr Lawrence FOMBE FON,
  • Pr Paul Basile ELOUNDOU MESSI
  • Dr Claude Albert MEUTCHEHE GHOMSI

Editorial office

  • Pr Elvis KAH FANG,
  • Pr Louis DEFO
  • Dr Martin Luther DJATCHEU KAMGAIN


  • Pr Dominique MEVA’A ABOMO,
  • Pr Clotaire NZIE SOUGA,
  • Pr Hénock Blaise NGUENDO YONGSI,
  • Dr Dieudonné LEKANE,
  • Dr Désiré TCHIGANKONG,
  • Dr Paul Blaise MABOU,
  • Dr Bertrand Chancelier WANDJI
  • Dr Christophe SADOS TOUONSI.

Scientific Committee

  • Pr Jean-Louis CHALEARD (University of Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne),
  • Pr Paul TCHAWA (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr John O. IGUE (University of Abomey-Calavi),
  • Pr Benjamin STECK (University of Havre),
  • Pr René Paul DESSE (University of Bretagne Occidentale),
  • Pr Athanase BOPDA (University of u Havre),
  • Pr Bernadette MERENNE SCHOUMAKER (University of Liège),
  • Pr Armand LEKA ESSOMBA (University of  Yaoundé  I),
  • Pr Jérôme ALOKO N’GUESSAN (University of Félix Houphouët  Boigny de Cocody),
  • Pr Serge MORIN (University of Bordeaux III-Michel de Montaigne),
  • Pr Gérard SALEM (University of Paris X-Nanterre),
  • Pr Serge SCHMITZ (University of Liège),
  • Pr René Joly ASSAKO ASSAKO (University of Douala),
  • Pr Roger NGOUFO (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr Alain METTON (University of Paris XII-Val de Marne),
  • Pr Alain DUBRESSON (University of Paris X-Nanterre),
  • Pr Mesmin TCHINDJANG (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr Sébastien BOURDIN (École de Management de Normandie),
  • Pr Guy MAINET (University of Bordeaux III-Michel de Montaigne),
  • Pr KOSSIWA KLASSOU-ZINSOU (University of Lomé),
  • Pr Joseph-Marie ZAMBO BELINGA (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr Moïse MOUPOU (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr Martin KUETE (University of Dschang),
  • Pr Lawrence FOMBE FON (University of Bamenda),
  • Pr Marc-Louis ROPIVIA (University of Omar Bongo de Libreville),
  • Pr Jean Emmanuel PONDI (University of Yaoundé II),
  • Pr Aristide YEMMAFOUO (University of Dschang),
  • Pr Jules DJIEKI (University of Omar Bongo de Libreville),
  • Pr Pierre Etienne KENFACK (University of Yaoundé II),
  • Pr Pierre TANGA ZOUNGRANA (University of Joseph Ki-Zerbo),
  • Pr Joseph Gabriel ELONG (University of Douala),
  • Pr Michel TCHOTSOUA (University of Ngaoundéré),
  • Pr Zephania NJI FOGWE, (University of Bamenda),
  • Pr Bernard GONNE (University of Maroua),
  • Pr Joseph Armathe AMOUGOU (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Pr Honoré MIMCHE (University of Yaoundé II),
  • Assogba GUEZERE, MC (University of Kara),
  • Benoît MOUGOUE, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Anselme WAPOKNOU, MC (University of Ngaoundéré),
  • Louis Bernard TCHUIKOUA, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Hervé TCHEKOTE, MC (University of Dschang),
  • Joseph Pascal MBAHA, MC (University of Douala),
  • Dominique MEVA’A ABOMO, MC (University of Douala),
  • Marie-Louise BA’ANA ETOUNDI, MC (University of Douala),
  • Emmanuel NGNIKAM, MC (ENSP/University of Yaoundé I),
  • Henri TEDONGMO TEKO, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Jean Guy DZANA, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Samuel Aimé ABOSSOLO, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Alex MENGUE MBOM, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Hénock Blaise NGUENDO YONGSI, MC (University of Yaoundé II),
  • Paul Basile ELOUNDOU MESSI, MC (University of Maroua),
  • Clotaire NZIE SOUGA, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Louis DEFO, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Gabriel ENCHAW BACHANGE, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Elvis KAH FANG, MC (University of Yaoundé I),
  • Claude Albert MEUTCHEHE NGOMSI (ONU-Habitat Nairobi).


Cherel J-P., 1994, Maîtriser l'aménagement urbain en Afrique subsaharienne : intérêt des images-satellite Spot : exemples de Nairobi (Kenya) et de Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Thèse de Doctorat, Montpellier : Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier 3, 357 p.

Kengne Fodouop, 2012, Le Cameroun face au défi du développement. Atouts, obstacles et voie à suivre, L’Harmattan, Paris, 337 col. Racines du temps présent.

Kengne Fodouop, 2010, « Le secteur informel, stratégie d’adaptation à l’économie de traite en Afrique sud saharienne », Maîtrise de l’Espace et développement en Afrique, Tome 1. État des lieux, Karthala, Paris, pp.172-188.

Kengne Fodouop et Bopda A., 2000, Un demi-siècle de recherche urbaine au Cameroun, RIEUCAM/PUY, Yaoundé, 170 p.

Kengne Fodouop et Metton A., 2000, Économie informelle et développement dans les pays du Sud à l’ère de la mondialisation, PUY/IGU, Yaoundé/Paris, 392 p.

Charmes J., 1992, « Le secteur informel, nouvel enjeu des politiques de développement ? » L’Homme et la société, Nos 105-106, pp. 63-77.

Severino J. M. et al., 2016, Entreprenante en Afrique, Éditions Odile Jacob, 288 p.

Kilby P., 1971, Hunting the heffalump, in P.Kilby (ed.) Entrepreneurship and economic developmentstrategies in Subsaharan Africa, New York, Free Press, MacMillan pp. 1-40.

Gilles D, 1994, « Hernando de Soto. L’autre sentier, la révolution informelle dans le Tiers Monde ». In: Politique étrangère, n°2 -1994 - 59ᵉannée. pp. 570-571.

Gareth A., 2010, “Développement économique et legs coloniaux en Afrique”, International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement, 1 | 2010, pp. 11-36.



  • Yaoundé, Cameroon (00237)


  • Wednesday, August 10, 2022


  • Kengne Fodouop, géographie, espace, développement, Afrique subsaharienne


  • Martin Djatcheu
    courriel : melangesprofesseurkengne [at] yahoo [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Félix Seurin Noutsa Djiensi
    courriel : felixnoutsa [at] yahoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Man, space and development in Sub-Saharan Africa », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 13, 2022, https://calenda.org/980663

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