Smart urban development strategies in Africa? An analysis of multiple rationalities for Accra’s City Extension Project

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Korah, Prosper Issahaku
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Kim, Hyung Min
Sabri, Soheil
Kent, Anthony
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Rapid urbanization contributes to the many contemporary issues and challenges that confront cities. Sustainable urban development emerges as an essential planning goal in many jurisdictions seeking to cope with urbanization pressures. To achieve urban sustainability objectives, the notion of a “smart city” becomes a promising policy option. Yet, little is known about the emergence of smart urban solutions in the African context. Analyzing Accra City Extension Project (ACEP)—an urban strategy for urbanization pressures in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana, this chapter contributes to understandings of the “how” and “why” particular smart urban solutions emerge and are adopted in African cities. Through in-depth interviews and document analysis, the findings indicate that multiple rationalities, including achieving orderly and efficient spatial development, infrastructure provision, liveability, land value capture, and inclusive urban development underpin the production of ACEP. Multiple actors such as central and local governments, traditional authorities, landowners, technocrats, private developers, residents, and transnational organizations with varied interests were involved in ACEP. To private investors and landowners, economic values were the main motivations; however, this is contrary to the general project visions of promoting urban sustainability and social inclusion. There was evidence of parallel and conflicting institutional arrangement for the project implementation. It is concluded that the project risks not achieving its aim of creating a sustainable, inclusive, and liveable urban environment, and at worst, it might become an urban fantasy plan that deepens inequality and marginalization.

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Smart Cities for Technological and Social Innovation
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Urban community development
Urban analysis and development
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Korah, PI, Smart urban development strategies in Africa? An analysis of multiple rationalities for Accra’s City Extension Project, Smart Cities for Technological and Social Innovation, 2021, pp. 157-180