About the African Cities Research Consortium

Cities that work for everyone

Cities are complex, dynamic, political systems. We bring together the right people and an understanding of the political economy of individual cities to identify and address the critical challenges they are facing.

Our aim is to generate insights and evidence that will help improve the living conditions, services and life chances of all city residents, particularly for disadvantaged communities.

Meeting the challenge

From the beginning, our research and engagement is focused on generating a rich, nuanced understanding of the city. By combining a systems approach with political analysis, informed by a wide range of perspectives, we will identify complex problems. Working with local reform coalitions, we will explore new approaches to tackle recognised urban challenges.

To address the systemic nature of these challenges, we focus on urban development domains. These broad fields of power, policy and practice go beyond sectorial silos and provide the potential to unlock reform.


  • Structural transformation
  • Neighbourhood and district economic development
  • Land and connectivity
  • Housing
  • Informal settlements
  • Health, wellbeing and nutrition
  • Safety and security
  • Youth and capability development

How we work

We will bring together community organisations, local government and agencies to co-produce knowledge and evidence. Once complex problems in focus cities have been identified, we will undertake action research alongside urban reformers to help catalyse transformative changes for all residents. We are committed to reaching marginalised groups including women, children and those with disabilities with financially robust, environmentally sustainable and politically achievable reforms.

Emerging insights of what works and potential solutions to urban challenges will be continually shared across the continent and beyond.

Where we’re working

ACRC has identified 13 initial cities within sub-Saharan Africa with the potential and need for urban reform:


  • Accra, Ghana
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Khartoum, Sudan
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Maiduguri, Nigeria
  • Mogadishu, Somalia
  • Nairobi, Kenya

    Who we are

    Led from The University of Manchester, the consortium includes centres of research excellence, frontline humanitarian responders, effective policy influencers, vibrant local government networks and deeply rooted civil society groups. We are funded with UK aid from the UK government, until 2026.