Although there is a growing interest in African cities, there is little data and research available beyond the continent’s megacities. Africapolis — part of the global e-Geopolis programme — is a major step towards closing this data gap.
Africapolis is geo-spatial database on cities and urbanisation dynamics in Africa. Its original methodology combines national population data, satellite and aerial imagery and other cartographic sources to provide population estimates at the level of individual agglomerations, systematic geolocation and information on the size and evolution of an agglomeration's built-up area since 1950. The 2015 Update for West Africa identified 1,947 urban agglomerations as of 2010, highlighting the importance of small and medium-sized agglomerations in national urban networks and the emergence of new urban agglomerations through in situ urbanisation. The data highlight the role of small towns and secondary cities in urban networks, the emergence of new urban agglomerations and the increasing fluidity between urban and rural environments (hyper rural – meta urban).
Africapolis data provides the evidence base for a wide range of development policies at the local, national and regional levels. By integrating thousands of agglomerations with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, it delivers a better understanding of the spatial transformations brought about by urbanisation, and strengthens analyses of the connections and flows being made across the urban network.