Urbanization and the Future African Cities

The rapid increase in urban population has forced a new generation of designers, policy makers and multilateral organizations to identify urban development as the defining issue for Africa in the 21st century. As cities continue to drive economic growth it has become imperative for them to think about urban mobility, affordable housing basic infrastructure and public amenities often in the face of limited resources. This panel will explore some of the innovative ways cities are rising to the challenge across a range of scales. Emphasizing the need for a flexible and adaptable understanding of African cities and appreciating the need for greater equity and economic opportunities.


Kahira Nigige

Kahira Ngige is a Master of Urban Planning candidate the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). His academic focus sits at the nexus of urban infrastructure, finance and adaptable design. Prior to joining the GSD, Kahira worked as an urban and infrastructure planning consultant in London. Kahira is president of Africa GSD and has published pieces on architectural criticism in the Avery Review and UD:ID.


Emanuel Admassu

Emanuel Admassu
Founding Partner

Emanuel Admassu is an architect from Addis Ababa, founding partner of AD-WO together with Australian architect Jen Wood, and Assistant Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He has previously taught at Columbia University (GSAPP) and worked with practices in Atlanta and New York City. His research examines the constructed identities of urban markets in East Africa–currently focusing on Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam and Merkato in Addis Ababa.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Devanne Brookins
TUT-POL SSA at Harvard Graduate School of Design

Devanne Brookins is a Research Coordinator at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, supporting the Transforming Urban Transport – The Role of Political Leadership (TUT-POL) Sub-Saharan Africa project. Her research interests are centered on the intersection of urban development, governance and land in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research is driven by overarching questions on how urban governance and  development – inclusive of service provision, infrastructure and land management – contribute to distributional outcomes that perpetuate inequality. Her dissertation research explored land reform in urban and peri-urban areas in Ghana, the process of institutional change and the role of informal actors. Prior to her doctoral studies, Devanne worked in international development research and program management with organizations such as The Urban Institute and Oxfam America. She has also consulted for the Africa Development Bank, UN Habitat in the Urban Land, Legislation and Governance Branch and the African Center for Economic Transformation. Devanne holds a PhD in International Development Planning from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT; dual Masters’ degrees from Columbia University in Urban Planning (GSAPP) and International Affairs (SIPA); and a BA in Political Science and French from Wellesley College.

Zikho Pali is an LLM. candidate at Harvard Law School. Prior to coming to Harvard, she practiced as an attorney for several years and worked for Bowmans South Africa (previously Bowman Gilfillan.Inc), one of the largest law firms in Africa. During this period, she was nominated and appointed by the provincial government as the youngest serving board member at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, the largest hospital in Africa and the third largest in the world. She is currently one of the Co-founders and Vice President of Quro Medical, a private company that is incorporated in South Africa. Quro medical combines the use of technology, mid-level healthcare professionals and specialist oversight to deliver an affordable, quality at-home medical healthcare service.

Beth Stryker

Beth Stryker
Co-founder CLUSTER

Beth Stryker is Co-founder of CLUSTER (Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research) a platform for urban research, architecture, art, and design initiatives based in Downtown Cairo. CLUSTER has received critical recognition for its work, including a Curry Stone Design Prize (2017), and inclusion in the Egyptian National Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2016, 2018). Stryker has curated exhibitions and programs for the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in Cairo, Beirut Art Center, Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, the AIA/Center for Architecture in New York (where she held the position of Director of Programs), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, among other venues. She is the Executive Director of ArteEast in New York. Stryker received her B.A from Columbia University, and her M.Arch from Princeton University

Matt Smith

Matt Smith
Managing Director, MASS Design

Matt leads global operations and manages the development of labs and new relationships at MASS. Since joining the team in 2015, Matt has guided cross-office organizational design and change processes enabling MASS to scale its impact while remaining true to its values as an international, justice-driven design collective. He now builds new partnerships for the organization and operationalizes the collective’s strategy. Prior to joining MASS, Matt was a project manager and organizational development consultant working in the U.S., Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Mexico and Timor-Leste. He holds a Masters in Development Practice from Columbia University where he was the recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. Matt was also the recipient of a David L. Boren Fellowship, studying Kiswahili and entrepreneurial development programs in East Africa after graduating from Montana State University where he studied Business Management and Ethics.       

Joia Mukherjee MD, MPH is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Chief Medical Officer of Partners In Health (PIH), an international medical charity dedicated to providing a preferential option for the poor in healthcare. She is an internist, a pediatrician, an infectious disease doctor and public health specialist. Dr. Mukherjee has been supporting PIH’s efforts to provide high quality, comprehensive health care to the poorest in partnership with local communities and health officials in Haiti, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Peru, Mexico, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Navajo Nation. Dr. Mukherjee’s clinical foci include HIV, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, mental health, Ebola, human resources for health, and health systems strengthening. She also teaches Global Health Delivery, social medicine, infectious disease and human rights to medical students, residents and fellows at a wide variety of US and international institutions. She has helped create a new residency and fellowship training program for Rwandan and Haitian physicians as well as global health residencies and fellowships for US trainees at Harvard and other American universities.