chapter  2
Urban Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Overview
ByCarlos Nunes Silva
Pages 33

This chapter discusses in detail the objectives of Italian colonialism in East Africa, as expressed through the design of cities. Dessie, Gondar, Harar, Jimma and Addis Ababa provide examples of the myriad ways Italian town planners adapted modernist design principles to the coercive project of organizing colonial cities. The cities that supposedly rose ex-nihilo from the forbidding terrain actually appeared on the sites of existing settlements, with the principal cities built in existing provincial capitals or at important crossroads. These crossroads marked the intersections of roads built with great effort across difficult and forbidding terrain, which enabled transportation across the empire. Italian urban planning in East Africa gave physical form to the Fascist regime's stated goals for colonization and the creation of an empire centered on Ethiopia. Urban design was central to Italian colonial policy during the occupation of Ethiopia. Italian urbanism throughout the fascist era demonstrates how easily progressive planning practices could be employed by authoritarian political regimes.