This House believes forced evictions are necessary for African cities to become global players.

Cities have become hubs of innovation, capital, and culture. In 2012, 37% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population were classified as ‘urban’[1]. With society suggested to be entering a predominantly ‘urban’ age by 2050 to what extent are African cities adopting the right approaches to become global players? World cities have been defined as command and control centres of the global economy[2]; and the definition has resulted in the compilation of a hierarchised list of cities[3]. Africa has seven cities on the list.

In encouraging the shift to ‘global’ status African governments have adopted multiple tactics, and strategies, to rebuild and redesign African cities. One such approach is forced evictions. Forced evictions are permanent, or temporary, evictions which occur without appropriate protection – legal or other. With a desire to remove ‘informal’ structures and the image of ‘unplanned’ cities governments have come to adopt forced evictions as a way to clean up African cities and recreate perceptions of what African cities are, and can do. A lack of data makes it difficult to accurately track the number of forced evictions. However, with the growing desire to hold global events - such as FIFA World Cup, create aesthetic environments and a sense of ‘organisation’ in African cities, forced evictions have risen across the continent. The growing prevalence of forced evictions has raised debates over human rights, social injustice, and the unsustainable role of planning being used across African cities.

Are forced evictions necessary to redefine the position of African cities; are they a natural path of progression; and are they resulting in desired results?

[1] World Bank Database, 2013.

[2] See: GaWC, 2001. World cities are specified based on their degree of integration to the city networks - calculated by the presence of advanced producer services (i.e. transnational firms of accounting, advertising, finance, insurance and law) and network connections.

[3] See further readings: GaWC, 2010.


Forced evictions are necessary to change perceptions.

Western media and institutions often present an image of 'Africa' which fails to understand the reality, and continues to position 'Africa' as the 'other', 'unknown', and in need of assistance. Cities across Africa are an opportunity to change this idea of Africa. Forced evictions enable local, and national, governments to redesign African cities. Taking the case of South Africa forced evictions, in cities, have been central in promoting its new image.

In 2010, South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup. Stadiums were built in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban and provided the international community an opportunity to see the beauty of South Africa and confirm its ability to deliver as a BRIC country. Evictions occurred to create an aesthetic city, for the greater good. The evictions were only a small cost in the broader scale, whereby a better city would be built for all to enjoy, employment created, and tourists attracted[1].

[1] Although accurate figures of the number of evictions carried out, and/or number of residents displaced, are unavailable, cases have been reported where around 20,000 people could have been evicted in one settlement. See further readings: Werth, 2010.


It remains questionable whether the FIFA World Cup has been a success for South Africa, and for the majority of South Africa's citizens. The costs of forced evictions have outweighed the benefits in the international arena. The publicised nature of evictions across South Africa, in the build up to FIFA 2010, highlighted a negative image of urban planning in Africa and the unresolved issues of equality and rights. Forced evictions have resulted in the loss of architectural heritage for new builds, homelessness, and the publication of communities living without freedom to rights.

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is a clear example. The social movement gained momentum to expose the undemocratic world poor communities live in and fight evictions. The communities were relocated into 'Tin Can Towns' and 'Transit Camps'.[1] The negativity raised will have future repercussions.

[1] For more information see further readings: Smith (2010) and War on Want (2013).

Forced evictions are a natural path of development.

Forced evictions have occurred globally across time, they show the natural progression of development. Cases across Europe and the USA show evictions were a feature of cities and urbanisation in the past. London experienced numerous ‘slum clearances’ from the 18th to the 20th Century, one such clearance was the building of the Metropolitan railway to the City which destroyed the slums around Farringdon and forced relocation of 5-50,000 people from 1860-4.[1] Firstly, as modernisation theory shows transition occurs as society progresses from ‘traditional’ to an ‘age of mass consumption’. Evictions often occur where inhabitants may not have the legal titles to occupy land. Evictions enable the transition from communities who occupy land based on traditional laws and beliefs to the emergence of a refined legal system.

Secondly, development can only progress once new land becomes available - investment requires space. Therefore space has to be cleared for the city to be re-planned and new investments made. New investments can ensure African cities become sites of prosperity and continue to attract investors. 

[1] Temple, 2008


There remains a danger of not learning from past mistakes. Forced evictions are unlawful, and have minimal benefits in terms of human development[1]. Evictions only show the natural path of the lawless nature of capitalism. Within capitalism, public space becomes privatised over time in order to enable the creation, and circulation, of profits.

Cities are social spaces, and therefore need to be designed for, and around, people not profits. Evictions dispossess of their land, livelihoods, and homes; while the city is redesigned for investors, the elite, and footloose companies. Social development and security needs to be seen as the natural path of development.

Further, comparatively, the context of African cities differs to that of Europe and the US.

[1] For more information see further readings: United Nations Human Development Reports.

Forced evictions are a means to control rapid urbanisation and gain global city status.

Africa is undergoing rapid urbanisation of 3.5% per year (by comparison China’s is only2.3%).[1] With the rising number of ‘Megacities’[2] across Africa, the government need to introduce methods to control the sprawling nature of cities and create a sense of order.

Mega, and Million, cities have become a representation of Africa’s urban future. Urbanisation in Africa is occurring much faster than the governments are able to cope with. As Mike Davis (2007) suggests African nations showcase a new type of city - a city of slums, decay, and prevailing revolution. The government need to take more control to effectively build future cities and define the path of urbanisation. 

[1] Worldstat info, 2013

[2] ‘Megacities’ are defined as cities with over 10 million inhabitants (Wikipedia, 2013). 


Forced evictions are not solutions as those displaced will simply build new shanty towns so it will not stop rapid growth. They fail to tackle underlying issues across African cities - such as the lack of access to adequate housing, services, and bad governance. 

Forced evictions will create cities without slums in the long-run.

Slums and informal settlements need upgrading; and the percentage of slums remains highest in Sub-Saharan Africa[1] where slums can be up to 72% of the urban population.[2] Slums are unhealthy spaces - spaces where disease festers, there is limited access to sanitation and services, and overcrowding presents a squalid environment. Forced evictions are an effective urban planning tool to build healthier cities. Residents need to be evicted to enable infrastructure to be built (i.e. roads, lighting, sewage), and services constructed (i.e. hospitals and schools). Evictions enable a healthier environment and homes to be built in the process of redevelopment, beneficial for inhabitants in the long-run.

This has been the motive of Kenya Vision 2030[3] which aims to provide access to adequate housing and a secure environment for urban dwellers. In upgrading slums, such as Kibera, the first stage required relocating residents in Kibera to multiple sites (i.e. Soweto East).

[1] Fox, 2013.

[2] Tibaijuka, 2004

[3] Kenya Vision 2030, 2013.


The idea of promoting a ‘slum-free’ environment is often used to justify evictions. However, for just urban planning, alternative methods need to be used. On the one hand, cases show how slum upgrading can be achieved through community organisations and the provision of tenure security. Organisations such as Abahlali BaseMjondolo and Muungano wa Wanavijiji are positive examples.

On another hand, the Master Plan’s[1], justifying evictions, are wrong. Exclusive spaces are created as the new developments cater to elites and the right to health becomes accessible by a minority. Additionally, slums persist as forced evictions have a different agenda. Slum-dwellers are merely relocated to new settlements, with poor sanitation, inaccessible, and insecure.

Furthermore, in the case of Kenya’s 2030 Vision, a number of cases indicate tensions are emerging. Rights over land, and therefore who receives compensation, are contested. Slum dwellers are given little warning on when the eviction will occur. Displacement resulted as residents were unable to afford new builds and not granted a new build.

[1] See further readings.

Forced evictions pave the road for African cities to set a trend towards Eco-Cities.

A key character of global cities are the global connections made. Whether financial, economic, political, or cultural - global cities become a fundamental hub providing key resources. Forced evictions provide space in overcrowded, unorganised, cities whereby new architecture and districts can be built, and new trends set. Forced evictions provide spaces for new financial districts and beautiful cities to emerge across Africa.

Recently plans have been set to implement 'Eco' projects across African cities. Proposed projects include the Konza Techno City, Nairobi; Eko Atlantic, Lagos; HOPE, Ghana; and Kampala Tower, Kampala, as part of the Venus Project.


Since 2000, over 2mn experienced forced evictions in Nigeria[1]. Recent plans to implement the Eko Atlantic project along Lagos’ coastline has been designed with an intention for reducing emissions, protecting the vulnerability of Victoria Island to climate change, and promoting sustainable development. However, an exclusive landscape has been planned - targeting commuters, financial industries, and tourists. The need to include quotas for providing adequate housing or public services has been neglected. Furthermore, the designs present the construction of exclusive open spaces. Informal workers, such as street traders, will become unwelcome, destroying livelihoods.

[1] COHRE, 2008. 

African cities should not aim for ‘global city’ status.

There is debate as to the extent to which Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation. Data shows that across several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, in reality, urbanisation is slowing or static[1]. A process of counter-urbanisation is occurring as a result of return migration and fictitious data. The political discourse of Africa’s rapid urbanisation and Megacities promotes unjustified dangerous intervention, such as forced evictions.

African cities are unique, and need to promote an alternative image to define their status. A different brand and image of global city status is required, rather than following the current definition. The current definition fails to recognise the diversity of what cities do. The definition of global cities introduces a criteria to follow, and forces conformity in cities worldwide. Mega cities are not negative but have been constructed as being so. There remains a danger of following a path towards 'worlding' cities: who is included and invited to participate in it?

[1] Potts, 2009.


Slums and informal settlements are constraining African cities from becoming global players. Space needs to be cleared and new investors attracted, which will bring positive development. As a result of Johannesburg’s global status, Johannesburg’s Stock Exchange has continued to grow and improve[1]. Exchange Square, in Johannesburg, shows what African cities need to become. To become integrated into the global-economy city space, and priorities, need to be redesigned.

[1] See Johannesburg Stock Exchange (2011), whereby classified as first for regulation of security exchanges. 

Forced evictions are political land grabbing.

Politics justifies, and legitimises, forced evictions. Previous cases across African cities[1] show how ethnicity, race, and political party preferences, are heavily embedded in the process. Inhabitants may have legal rights to occupy land - however, as in the case of the 1990 Muoroto demolition in Kenya[2], ‘legal rights’ were trumped by ethnic tribalism and inter-party competition.

Further, a majority of African cities are built informally, therefore what can be defined as illegal? Forced evictions will fail where entire cities are built on a state of informality.

[1] Examples include: Zimbabwe (Operation Murambatsvina), Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana.

[2] See further readings: Klopp, 2008; and Ocheje, 2007.


Within cities land grabbing is a myth. A number of cases shown as political land-grabbing and rent-seeking are misrepresented, and misunderstood. Difficulties remain in defining what is a land grab and the extent of which the state, and politics, are involved in land speculations.

The media coverage of evictions in Mogadishu showcase the myth and hyperbole surrounding African politics and evictions. The government are entitled to reclaim land and reform it for public use[1].

[1] See BBC News (2013) for full debate, whereby Mohammed Yusuf, an Official at Mogadishu City, defends the eviction. 

Forced evictions are inhumane, and make state violence an increasing reality in African cities.

Forced evictions are unjust and reflect a threat to human rights. By carrying out such events, the state has become a key actor enforcing violence, fear and insecurity to those whom remain in need of protection[1]. In Luanda, Angola, where 18 mass evictions have been noted between 2002-2006 by the Human Rights Watch[2], individuals have been killed and imprisoned in the process. Intimidation by the state and government officials becomes a dangerous norm; and inhabitants are not treated as humans.

[1] Amnesty International Campaign.

[2] Human Rights Watch, 2007.


Forced evictions are following, and imposing, the law. A heavy hand is need for rights to be granted to all in the future. A majority of informal settlements are also illegal, future cities in Africa need to be built on a sense of legality and law. 

Denying individuals rights to the city commons.

Forced evictions create an exclusive city. The process of evictions means individuals are targeted, and criminalised, particularly the poor. The right to the city - to use the city, live in the city, and build the city - is denied to the poor and criminalised. Such denials have implications for the livelihood strategies of the poor.

For example, in the case of Johannesburg, South Africa, informal street traders have been evicted from using open, public space within the city centre. Such spaces are their means of employment, and as Abahlali Base Mjondolo show, the evictions represent a denial of legal and human rights[1].

[1] Abahlali Base Mjondolo are a movement of shack-dwellers based in Durban and operating across South Africa. Updated articles are provided.


Evictions show the government are recognising residents as holding rights and entitlements - rights to live in a safe environment, rights to a home, and rights to sanitary conditions. The Millenium Development Goals will be met as a result of such policies - ensuring environmental sustainability, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating diseases[1].

[1] UN MDGs, 2013.

The housing crisis is unresolved by forced evictions.

Across African cities there is a housing crisis - whereby there is a mismatch between housing demand and supply. Kigali, capital of Rwanda, for example needs to build half a million new homes.[1] As evictions continue the crisis is being exacerbated. Evictions displace individuals by destroying homes; are forcing lives’ to be rebuilt; and cause a rise in homelessness. In addition, in cases whereby resettlement housing is provided issues emerge. The new locations of resettlement show the crisis is unresolved. Residents are rehoused into unsanitary areas, areas far from employment opportunities, and on undesired land. Slums, and informal settlements, will continue to re-emerge in new locations as solutions are not being provided. Residents are forced out of central locations without being provided with an effective, affordable, alternative replacement.

Alternatives need to be introduced and considered.

[1] Agutamba, 2013


Forced evictions are needed to resolve the crisis. The crisis is emerging not out of a mismatch between supply and demand, but rather a lack of space and the inefficient use of space available. Plans need to be followed for housing to meet need, and evictions ensure such ambitions can be achieved. Evictions provide space to build housing effectively.

Take the newly proposed Kigali City Plan 2040[1]. 34,000 affordable homes will be built, in estates, for different socioeconomic groups. Space and organised planning - based on evictions - are essential to achieve this. 

[1] See further readings: Nuwagira, 2013; and Kigali City Plan 2040. 


Abahlali Base Mjondolo. 2013.

Agutamba, K., ‘East Africa: Urban Housing Crisis, a Huge Investment Opportunity’, Rwanda Focus, 19 November 2012,

Amnesty International Campaign.

BBC News, ‘Somali Crisis: Amnesty Criticises Evictions in Mogadishu’, 2013.

COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions). ‘The Myth of the Abuja Master Plan: Forced Evictions as Urban Planning in Abuja, Nigeria’, COHRE, 2008.

Davis, M. Planet of the Slums. 2007. Verso, London.

Fox, S. ‘The Political Economy of Slums: Theory and Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa’, Working Paper Series 2013, No. 13-146, Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2013.‎

GaWC (Globalisation and World Cities Research Network), 2001.

Human Rights Watch. ‘“They Pushed Down the Houses”: Forced Evictions and Insecure Land Tenure for Luandas Urban Poor’, 2007.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange. ‘WEF Report 2011-2012: South Africa Boasts Best Regulation of Securities Exchanges’, 2011.

Kenya Vision 2030. 2013.

Temple, P. ed., 'Introduction', Survey of London: volume 46: South and East Clerkenwell, 2008, pp. 3-27.

Tibaijuka, Anna Kajumulo, ‘Africa on the Move an urban crisis in the making’, UN Habitat, December 2004,

Potts, D. ‘The Slowing of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Urbanisation: Evidence and Implications for Urban Livelihoods’, Environment and Urbanisation, 21, 1, p 253-259, 2009.

UN MDGs (United Nations Millenium Development Goals), Millenium Development Goals, 2013.

Wikipedia. ‘Megacity’, 2013.

World Bank. ‘Urban Development’, Urban Development Data. 2013., ‘List of countries by Rate of urbanization’, accessed 4 December 2013,