Linard, Catherine, Tatem, Andrew J. and Gilbert, Marius
Modelling spatial patterns of urban growth in Africa
Applied Geography, 44, . (doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.07.009).
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The population of Africa is predicted to double over the next 40 years, driving exceptionally high urban expansion rates that will induce significant socio-economic, environmental and health changes. In order to prepare for these changes, it is important to better understand urban growth dynamics in Africa and better predict the spatial pattern of rural-urban conversions. Previous work on urban expansion has been carried out at the city level or at the global level with a relatively coarse 5–10 km resolution. The main objective of the present paper was to develop a modelling approach at an intermediate scale in order to identify factors that influence spatial patterns of urban expansion in Africa. Boosted Regression Tree models were developed to predict the spatial pattern of rural-urban conversions in every large African city. Urban change data between circa 1990 and circa 2000 available for 20 large cities across Africa were used as training data. Results showed that the urban land in a 1 km neighbourhood and the accessibility to the city centre were the most influential variables. Results obtained were generally more accurate than results obtained using a distance-based urban expansion model and showed that the spatial pattern of small, compact and fast growing cities were easier to simulate than cities with lower population densities and a lower growth rate. The simulation method developed here will allow the production of spatially detailed urban expansion forecasts for 2020 and 2025 for Africa, data that are increasingly required by global change modellers.
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