“Understanding residential mobility: Why the African context matters”: New Article by Els Keunen and Astrid Ley out now!

Els Keunen and Astrid Ley have published an article on residential mobility in the Sub-Saharan African context in the renown Journal of Urban Affairs.

Residential mobility in a Sub-Saharan African (SSA) context is substantially different from in the Global North. This paper provides three position statements to substantiate this claim. The first relates to residential mobility dynamics and posits that in SSA they are characterized by a much more transient and mobile population who frequently move to, from, between and within urban areas. Secondly, formal mechanisms that enable access to decent living conditions in the city are largely absent as compared to most of the Global North context and, as a consequence, poor households have to resort to other options to find a place in the city. Thirdly, real estate markets in SSA are less transparent as social networks interplay with market mechanisms and markets often function on the edge of or outside formal regulatory frameworks. The second part of the paper reflects on the implications of these differences for the African city. It argues that (1) translocal living reduces place attachment to the city, (2) processes of residential sorting and ethnic exclusion aggravate spatial inequality, and (3) limited spatial governance leads to developments that go beyond the capacity to sustain the city.

Published online on 10 June 2022: