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The Urban Action Lab and Charter Cities Institute to Collaborate on Enriching the Programming of the Africa Urban Lab at the new Zanzibar Campus of the African School of Economics

New Research Hub To Focus on Educating the African City Builders, Urban Planners, and Municipal Leaders of Tomorrow Using Innovative Approaches to Urban Development.


March, 2024

The Charter Cities Institute (CCI), in collaboration with the Urban Action Lab (UAL) has announced a significant partnership to develop the Africa Urban Lab (AUL) at the new Africa School of Economics (ASE) campus in Zanzibar

Through the Africa Urban Lab, this strategic partnership will deliver continent-leading education, conduct real-world training with urban professionals and policymakers, and carry out frontier research on rapid urbanization across the continent.  The Africa Urban Lab will also examine more innovative approaches to grappling with Africa’s massive urban expansion over the coming decades, including the role charter cities and new city developments can play. The AUL is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 11, which focuses on creating inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UAL and CCI signifies a formal and substantive partnership to support the ASE-Zanzibar campus’s growth and the establishment of the AUL. The work of the Africa Urban Lab will help ensure that the ballooning growth of African cities brings about the benefits of density rather than the density’s downsides (crime, congestion, and contagious disease, among others). 

Key aspects of this partnership include:

  • The launch of the Africa Urban Lab at the ASE Zanzibar campus including developing and delivering short-term professional partnership courses on sustainable urban planning, governance, and development.
  • Promoting student exchanges and visiting research fellowships 
  • Undertaking evidence-based research and policy analysis on municipal planning, urban expansion, governance, and more 
  • Initiating research collaborations, conferences, and events aimed at urban development and creating opportunities for policy discussions and workshops in order to share lessons learned.

Speaking on the partnership and the establishment of the Africa Urban Lab, CCI’s Executive Director, Kurtis Lockhart said, “The exciting partnership we’ve forged with the Urban Action Lab will be a great aid in ensuring not only that high-quality education that will be available through the Africa Urban Lab here Zanzibar, but also that the AUL can sustain an ecosystem of diverse stakeholders now and for the future.”  

This partnership represents a commitment from both the Urban Action Lab and CCI to foster frontier urban education, effective urban planning, and growth-enhancing urban development in Zanzibar, East Africa, and beyond. By bringing together resources, expertise, and a shared vision, the AUL is poised to become a leading center for urban development research and education in Africa.


About Charter Cities Institute (CCI):

CCI is dedicated to empowering new cities with improved governance to lift millions out of poverty. It is committed to building an ecosystem for charter cities through the creation of necessary frameworks, advising stakeholders, and fostering global partnerships.

About the Urban Action Lab:

The Urban Action Lab is an initiative from UN-Habitat established to respond to growing demand from cities to find transformative solutions to complex urban challenges; drive innovative ideas, processes, and partnerships to steer tangible contributions to sustainable innovation; and facilitate collaboration among a multi-disciplinary set of partners, stakeholders, and experts. 

About the Africa School of Economics (ASE):

Since its inception in 2014, ASE has grown into a Pan-African institute of higher learning, renowned for quality research and education, aiming to produce the next generation of scholars, policymakers, and entrepreneurs in Africa.

For more information about this collaboration, the AUL, or other inquiries, please contact the CCI’s Head of Communications, Michael Holstein ([email protected]).

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