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A century of urban planning for Zanzibar’s other side, 1923–2023, Planning Perspectives


Year published: 2023
Categories: Research Article

Author / Authors:

  • Garth Andrew Myers


This paper interrogates what has and has not changed in 100 years of professional planning in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The geographical focus is on the area of the historic core of the city known as Ng’ambo (a KiSwahili place-name meaning ‘the Other Side’). The gap between formal plans for infrastructure, housing, or neighbourhood development, and their implementation, is examined in its evolution over this century. The central focus of the empirical examination resides with the most recent planning initiatives, since 2011, which present a strongly inclusive and participatory emphasis for planning on the Other Side. The key research question is this: has this new era of inclusive planning strengthened the urban poor majority’s citizenship, or has it continued the long run of state planning failures for Ng’ambo’s residents? This essay argues that, despite progressive ambitions, in implementation there are a number of continuities with both colonial and post-independence planning, where outside powers and elite interests have predominated. The paper is built from more than thirty years of the author’s research on urban planning in Ng’ambo and engagement with the literature of urban planning studies in Africa and the Global South.


  • Research Article