Cementing Africa: Cement flows and city-making along the West African corridor (Accra, Lomé, Cotonou, Lagos).
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Urban Studies. 57(9):1977-1993. doi:10.1177/0042098019851949
This article analyses the production, circulation and consumption of cement along the West African coastal corridor, a 500-kilometre conurbation that stretches between Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos – the largest urban metropolis still in progress in Africa. By focusing on the ‘cement chain’, this research contributes to ongoing explorations of how urban phenomena are produced in Africa. As a binding material, cement is at the nexus of a range of issues at stake in contemporary African cities, such as urban policies, economic trends, dweller practices, environmental issues and capitalist accumulation. Based on empirical long-term fieldwork, the article adopts a ‘follow-the-thing’, multi-scale approach, retracing the itinerary of cement bags from the plant to the plot and observing all the actors involved in the cement chain, from major companies to bricklayers. Cement, the article concludes, epitomises the emerging ‘Made in Africa’ metropolitan condition, therefore including issues regarding the environment and sustainability in current debates on the growth of the cement city.
- Journal Article