Discussion paper

DP15327 Colonial legacies: Shaping African cities

Institutions persisting from colonial rule affect the spatial structure and conditions under
which 100’s of millions of people live in Sub-Saharan African cities. In a sample of 318
cities, Francophone cities have more compact development than Anglophone, overall, in older
colonial sections, and at clear extensive margins long after the colonial era. Compactness
covers intensity of land use, gridiron road structures, and leapfrogging of new developments.
Why the difference? Under British indirect and dual mandate rule, colonial and native sections
developed without coordination. In contrast, integrated city planning and land allocation were
featured in French direct rule. These differences in planning traditions persist.


Baruah, N, J Henderson and C Peng (2020), ‘DP15327 Colonial legacies: Shaping African cities‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15327. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15327