Summary of the Article The Urbanity of Movement Dynamic Frontiers in

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of the Article: The Urbanity of Movement: Dynamic Frontiers inContemporary Africa

of the Article: The Urbanity of Movement: Dynamic Frontiers inContemporary Africa

Thearticle was authored by AbdouMaliq Simone and published in theJournal of Planning Education and Research in 2011.The aim of theSimone’s article is to analyze some of the key factors that havelimited the capacity of the African countries and cities to convertmassive immigration of goods and persons into a formal economicresource.

Oneof the key drawbacks highlighted in the article is the lack ofaccurate records that can inform administrators of the Africancities, who are responsible for the policy making as well as thedecision making processes. Simone argues that the availableimmigration forms, registers, and statistical profiles are based onweak approximations that limit their reliability in the process ofconverting human movements into an economic resource. The records,according to the author, seem improvised.

Simonealso holds that the complexity of the movements taking place inAfrican cities makes it difficult to take advantage of situations tofacilitated economic growth. According to Simone (2011) immigrationin the African cities is based in many realities that differ fromeach other, thus making it quite difficult to study and analyze themovement of goods as well as the human beings. For example, it isalmost impossible for anyone to tell who has gotten the visa and whois going to a given destination. Simone explains the aspect ofcomplexity by giving an example of immigration in Sudan. A largenumber of people immigrate into the cities as they run away from thecivil wars, while an equal population seems to be moving towards thewar-torn areas as they look for the opportunities created byuncertainties. This example is based on a complex situation that isdifficult for any city to convert into an economic resource.

Inaddition, most of the immigrants in Africa are desperate people whorun for their lives. They settle in the cities or the urban areas asthey try to reestablish their own lives, which is an indication ofthe fact that they have no financial or the economic powers tocontribute towards the growth of the areas of their destination. Theyidentify themselves as refugees, combatants, enemies, or strangers.They also live in fear since they do not know whether the people thatthey are forced to live with after immigrating into the urban areasare their enemies.

Simonealso identifies that the aspects of political manipulation andunderdevelopment play a critical role in limiting the development ofthe African urban areas, in spite of the massive immigration. Forexample, the lack of development has limited the establishment ofpermanent markets and infrastructure that can facilitate effectivemovement of different goods to the points of sale. Simone states thatthe markets found in several countries (such as Nigeria and Benin)are unreliable. The market days are announced by the word of themouth, which makes them unpredictable.

Moreover,the markets are not accessible to the vehicles due to the poor statusof the roads. It is only the motorbikes that access the markets,which limit the flow of goods as well as the people to and from theupcoming urban areas. The weak political systems have limited thecapacity of the government to document and control the movement ofpersons as well as the goods. Simone confirms this argument bystating that many prohibited and untaxed goods cross the borderbetween Nigeria and Benin. A combination of these factors reduces thecapacity of the urban areas to take advantage of immigration toenhance their economic efficacy.

Thelack of commitment on the part of the government has been cited inthe article as a significant drawback in the process of enhancing theefficacy of the African cities through immigration. Most of thepotential urban areas are near the national borders, but thegovernments are preoccupied with the concept of sovereignty, insteadof taking advantage of the undocumented movements to enhance theeconomic growth of the cities. According to Simone (2011) nationalborders in African have already ceased to serve as markers oftransition since people and goods move freely.

Theauthor observed that the African countries have failed to takeadvantage of the provisions of the international trade agreements tocommercialize on immigration. The ECOWAS, which facilitates themovement of the people as well as goods across the Western Africanstates, has failed to facilitate economic growth in the membercountries since immigrants are still not allowed to engage in formalenterprises. African countries claim to be sovereign, which is anexcuse for failing to observe the provisions of the internationalcommunity as the well as the regional trade blocs regardingimmigration.

Simoneconcludes the article by stating that African countries need new andeffective infrastructure in order to avoid losing an important tradeopportunity brought about by immigration. They also need to increasethe intensity of their interconnections and develop economicinterests in order to convert massive immigration into developmentefficacy. However, Simone acknowledges the fact that there areseveral African countries that have taken the right measures bydeveloping infrastructure, such as the optic cable, hydraulicsystems, and highways. However, the cost of the infrastructure canonly be recovered if states are able to diversify different patternsof connectivity. Moreover, effective development plans can helpAfrican nations differentiate histories, geo-economic positions, andresource bases.


Simone,A. (2011). The urbanity of movement: Dynamic frontiers incontemporary Africa. Journalof Planning Education and Research,1, 82-87.

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