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Abstract

Africa is urbanising rapidly and is facing enormous urban challenges, such as the growth of slums and increasing inequality. Secondary cities, with their smaller economies and less capacitated local governments compared to primary cities, face particularly severe challenges. However, responsibility for key urban governance issues is often fragmented amongst large numbers of government stakeholders with limited capacities and conflicting interests. Key urban governance stakeholders therefore need to be brought together in collaborative processes to jointly develop and implement new strategies that are based on a broader range of interests and meet a broader range of needs. In order to be able to do this, understanding actual urban governance processes, which are essentially about how different actors interact to make and operationalise decisions, is vitally important. This chapter highlights the diversity of actors involved in urban governance in Africa and the complexity of urban governance processes, with Kisumu, a secondary city in Kenya, used as an example. Key actors in urban governance in African cities include all levels of government, political parties, traditional leaders, private sector organisations and informal business organisations (such as traders' organisations), international agencies and civil society organisations. The basic objects of urban governance can include a wide range of issues, such as land use management, the provision of basic services, ensuring access/mobility and ensuring public health and safety. The diversity of governance actors and of agendas complicates addressing urban issues, but can also be seen as an opportunity for leveraging additional skills and resources through collaborative urban governance processes that bring different stakeholders together to develop and implement more holistic and inclusive strategies.

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