Africa’s urbanisation: making sense of the numbers

A few years back I conducted a route-to-market project for a pan-African television network in Zambia. Our project took me to Chipata, the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia. Chipata has an estimated population of less than a hundred thousand. But in Africa, population estimates don’t always tell the full story.


For one, population estimates for many African cities are notoriously bad. The numbers also do not explain a place’s significance. Chipata is on the Malawian border and is a transport and business hub. In 2011 a rail link with Malawi was inaugurated. Chipata also provides an access point to the Indian Ocean deepwater port at Nacala in Mozambique. This provides Zambia with an alternative to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

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How We Made It In Africa, 2013


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