Accepted paper:

Land and governance in Lagos: Comparing divergent processes of rapid urbanisation


Lindsay Sawyer (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

This paper compares the urban governance configurations of two very different processes of urbanisation in Lagos that are rapidly transforming the peripheries. The comparison focuses on the differing role of state actors and customary landowners, and the different relationship to land and tenure.

Paper long abstract:

In the past ten to fifteen years, so-called middle class and more elite housing has ballooned along the Lekki axis of Lagos, providing relatively wealthy residents with opportunities for affordable housing in private and state-owned estates. This process of urbanisation contrasts sharply with the longstanding de facto mode of urbanisation in Lagos that caters to the low-income majority and involves the rapid unplanned transformation of peripheries into densely populated areas through the piecemeal development of individual plots bought from customary landowning Families. These processes are not only producing very different material qualities and everyday experiences, but have very different relationships to land and tenure, reflecting different manipulations of the dual land regimes at work in Lagos: the customary and statutory. Based on recent fieldwork and a new three-year research project, this paper will begin to compare these processes, paying particular attention to their urban governance configurations and the differing roles of the state and customary landowners. How do these processes relate to one another, particularly as middle class and elite housing becomes more spatially dominant and is the focus of infrastructural development? The paper reads across postcolonial notions of informality, political theories of the state, and developmental concepts of political settlements to question how customary authority fits into our understandings of urban governance and land, and how this might inform more grounded and contextualised approaches to African urbanism.

panel Soc03
Continuities and disruptions in urban land governance: the rise of the middle-class in Sub-Saharan Africa