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Infrastructure Development and Urban Facilities in Lagos, 1861-2000

Ayodeji Olukoju


Laurent Fourchard

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1This book is the first comprehensive analysis on the history of infrastructural development and urban policies in Lagos since the colonial annexation to date. I think that the author faced almost three challenges to write it. It was necessary to consider a long term analysis (one century and a half), to take into consideration the growing size of the city - the biggest in the south of the Sahara since the 1960s – and, finally, to inquire into three key infrastructural sectors: water supply, electricity supply and transportation system. Both fascinating and depressing issues for town planners and officials; Lagos is probably one of very few cities with more than five million inhabitants without mass transportation system.

2When I first met Professor Ayodeji Olukoju at the Department of History at University of Lagos, in February 2001, I proposed to him to look at this large topic in the framework of a wider programme led by Odile Goerg, professor of African History at Paris 7 University. The project was looking at the history of urban policies in various cities of Africa, Asia and America and adding the port city of Lagos – which was not initially scheduled – will have really enriched the comparative analysis of the programme. Consequently, the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) sponsored the fieldwork while the Société en Développement dans l’Espace et Dans le Temps (SEDET), the Institute attached to Paris 7 University, invited Professor Olukoju and all the other participants to present their findings in a two day seminar in Paris in June 2002. A thirty page report was then submitted and will be published later on in a collective book in France.

3Considering the value of the author and the report, considering the central issues addressed by the book in urban management, considering the lack of historical synthesis on urban infrastructures for the bigger Nigerian and African city. IFRA decided to publish a longer version of this paper in its monograph series. I am grateful to Ayodeji Olukoju for having completed this challenging project and for giving us what I strongly believe to be a reference book on African urban history.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2003

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