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132  affordable services, which is a non-negotiable in all African cities. The enduring problem with the “poverty”-conscious versions of the smart city solutions business is that it cannot address the structural problems of large-scale poverty, irregular incomes, small municipal tax bases, rent-seeking politics and intricately woven informal systems of service delivery that would have to be accommodated in one form or another. This is not to suggest that technology-driven agendas cannot resolve this dilemma but as yet there is simply no evidence that the mindset and orientation of the smart city seers can come to terms with the real, makeshift African city on its own terms. Scenario four, the Adaptive city, is where the speculative action is. It is the meeting ground where political activists, dreamers, designers, artists, misfits and outriders can engage to critique, explore, experiment, invoke, incite, make, and conjure new possibilities. The design challenge is gargantuan. The imaginative leap is vast. The cultural ask, radical. Yet, in paying attention to the inner workings and resonances of the makeshift city, important clues can be distilled about how the adaptive city could be made to work in an era of ubiquitous technology, mediation, consumerism, spiritualism, atomisation (amid meshworks), localisation and inter-operability. The hard-won intelligence that underpins makeshift urbanism must be the starting point for figuring out how to develop urban services that can reach everyone, yet remain affordable, engender citizenship and of global urban development declarations such as the rightsbased Habitat Agenda adopted in Istanbul in 1996, and more or less continue business as usual. The Green status quo scenario reflects the recent tendency to create an enabling environment for international investors who wish to bypass the messy, murky, makeshift African city by building new towns and cities on peripheral greenfield sites. These can offer high-tech and environmentally sensitive (architecture and engineering) environments for the staff of multinational corporations and multilateral agencies to operate, live and work. In this scenario, the political elites can present a progressive and green face to the world without doing much to address the deeper systems of exclusion and inequality that mark the default city. In an era in which architects are powerful protagonists of green utopias, it is doubly important that the design and artistic disciplines speak back to expose the hubris and opportunism of elite environmentalism. Scenario three, the Smart African city, captures the agenda of genuine urban reformers, especially visionary mayors and governors, to combine effective slum upgrading policies with ambitious smart city mega projects. These can unlock international investment to potentially leapfrog from limited and poor infrastructure networks into a completely different sociotechnical regime. It is too soon to know whether proliferating smart city solutions can truly deal with the twin imperatives of inclusive development and to keep the existing city ticking over. It is the predominant preoccupation of utilities and local authorities tasked with providing and maintaining services and operate on a deeply entrenched institutional edifice of laws, policies, regulations, and standards that operates in the background, rendered almost invisible. In this sense it is mindless in reproducing the de facto city, or what Maarten Hajer calls the default model of city making.15 In a context where elites are increasingly favouring speculative projects of a made-up urbanism genre, one could argue that it is being incorporated into the default setting of routine urban management. This combination presents the most toxic prospect for African cities. However, instead of progressive urbanists running for the hills, this confluence of thought, investment and imagination should be redefined as a wonderful opportunity for thoughtful, critical and playful engagement. The final naming concept is malleable urbanism. This denotes the aesthetic and political practice to obsessively search for an alternative paradigm or horizon line for African cities, which can only arise from a deliberate articulation of makeshift, made-up and mindless urbanisms with the intent of subverting the latter two categories in the interests of the first. These co-existing and overlapping urbanisms that constitute the unruly African city demands an agonistic rubbing together in order to generate enough frisson to give birth to newly imagined alternatives. The discourses of urban management, governance and urban order will never deliver us to this space of agonistic creativity. It demands an artful and design-based invocation of new possibilities. I now conclude this brief reflection by presenting a conceptual terrain where this kind of experimentation can be staged. SPECULATING POSSIBLE URBANISMS African cities demand speculative epistemic adventures. In Figure 1, four potential scenarios are sketched to capture the possible directions of urban development across African cities. The Status quo scenario reflects a mindless continuation of the predominant trends that characterise contemporary urbanisation, as discussed above. It reflects an absence of alternative discourses with enough savvy and heft to shift current realities. Disconcertingly, it is entirely feasible in this scenario that political elites adopt the mantras


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