Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid | Sociology

Comparing Urbanization in Johannesburg and Maputo

The two cities of Johannesburg and Maputo are geographically close to one another in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although they have distinct histories and features, they also share some similarities that should yield rich results through comparison. For example, governments in South Africa and Mozambique have made significant investments in transport infrastructure over the last decade – yet this has not always resulted in changes to transit patterns in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg and Maputo. However, comparative research on these kinds of topics has been relatively limited to date.

Therefore, to understand how transport infrastructure is used by residents in these cities, this research project examines the nuances of household mobility, access, and decision-making at selected sites in Johannesburg and Maputo. It attempts to locate these everyday and lived experiences relative to government transport plans and policies in each location. The study uses a variety of disciplinary approaches broadly connected to urban studies and a range of methods, including an innovative mobile app developed by Chair of Sociology team member Dr. Lindsay Howe to monitor and map access and mobility, focus groups, auto-photography, digital diaries, and semi-structured expert interviews.

The project is financed by the Volvo Research and Education Foundation (VREF) African Mobilities Program. The institutional partners are the University of the Witwatersrand, including the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), Centre for Urban and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning; University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, and the ETH Zurich in Switzerland.