The urban transformations in Sub Saharan Africa are taking place in small and intermediate urban centres, out of the sight of most policy makers and academics. There is a need to further understand how rural-urban interactions are transforming and producing new 'urban' spaces.
Small towns are growing at a faster rate than main cities in the Global South, therefore policy makers along with academics have a renewed interest in rural-urban linkages and the role of small towns in development processes. Driven by the ambitious new global agendas, there is increased attention for the way small towns and improved rural-urban connections can bring together economic growth, contribute to the reduction of inequality and ensure environmental protection (Tacoli et al., 2015). In line with the global call for more inclusive urban development, much hope is directed towards small and intermediate urban centres, spurring increased attention in their economic role and governance capacity, along with their impact on rural transformations (McGranahan and Satterthwaite, 2014).
While economic dynamics of rural-urban transitions have been widely studied, less attention has been given to how small urban centres are taking form and offer opportunities to the people inhabiting these spaces. The term rural-urban transformation is used to denote how changing rural economies, global integration, regional and national governance transitions, and multi-local livelihood dynamics are (co-)producing small urban centres away from, and not necessarily directly connected to, the formal urban hierarchies.
We invite scholars to provide conceptual and /or empirical research into the dynamics of rural-urban linkages and the emergence and role of small urban centres in Africa. To move beyond the rural-urban 'linkages' and 'connections' framework and develop approaches that explores how rural-urban interactions are transforming and producing new 'urban' spaces.