REFRAME - Aligning Africa's Urban Agenda: Innovative Regulation is Transformative Politics

Wednesday, 21 October, 2020 - 14:00 to 16:00
Central Africa Time (CAT)
Wednesday, 30 September, 2020

African Centre for Cities and partners present the REFRAME platform to promote informed debate and proposition on how best we can programmatically advance sustainable and inclusive African cities. This propositional conversation series seeks to set an agenda and provide a set of coordinates for multilateral partners, knowledge institutions, social movements, governments, networks and concerned business to gravitate around. The intention is to equip all stakeholders to influence policy formulation processes at a pan-African scale, between Africa and Europe, US and Asia, at national and local levels. It seeks to make plain the urban conditions it will take to achieve the lofty and urgent goals of Agenda 2063, the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Conversation 5: Innovative Regulation is Transformative Politics

Indy Johar (Dark Matter Labs), global expert on alternative thinking on regulation, will set the stage by presenting global trends in relation to potential for African cities.

Response Panel:

• Mark Swilling (Development Bank of Southern Africa)

• Oumar Sylla (UN Habitat)

• Sue Parnell (PEAK-Urban)

Closing statements by: Representatives from SIDA & The Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft.


WHEN: 21 October 2020
TIME: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Africa Time (CAT)



Indy Johar | Founder, Dark Matter Labs
Indy Johar is an architect, co-founder of 00 ( and most recently Dark Matter Labs as well as a Studio Master at AA. Johar, on behalf of 00, has co-founded multiple social ventures from Impact Hub Westminster to Impact Hub Birmingham, along with working with large global multinationals & institutions to support their transition to a positive Systems Economy. He has also co-led research projects such as The Compendium for the Civic Economy, whilst supporting several 00 explorations/experiments including the, Indy is a non-executive director of WikiHouse Foundation & RIBA Trustee and Advisor to Mayor of London on Good Growth. Most recently he has founded Dark Matter Labs – a field laboratory focused on radically redesigning the bureaucratic and institutional infrastructure of our cities, regions and towns for a more democratic, distributed great transition. Dark Matter Labs work with institutions around the world, from UNDP (Global), McConnell (Canada), TFL, GLA (London) to Bloxhub (Copenhagen). He has taught, lectured at various institutions from the University of Bath, TU-Berlin; Architectural Association, University College London, Princeton, Harvard, MIT and New School.

Mark Swilling | Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development in the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University
Mark Swilling is the Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development in the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University. He is also the Co-Director of the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST), member of the International Resource Panel (since 2007), fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, member of the Board of the Development Bank of Southern Africa since 2014 and Chairperson of the Board from January 2019 – September 2019, after which he was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Board. He also heads up the sustainable development degree programmes at the University of Stellenbosch, hosted in partnership at the Sustainability Institute. Since 2016 he’s been Visiting Professor at Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and Sheffield University (UK). In 2018 he was the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Environmental Scholar at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS), with a residency at Yale from March to October 2018 based in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 2019 he was appointed by the South African Government to the Reference Group of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy of South Africa.

Oumar Sylla | Acting Director of the Regional Office for Africa, UN Habitat
Since January 2020 Oumar Sylla has been acting as Director for the Regional Office for Africa in the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat). Before this, he was Branch Coordinator, Urban Legislation, Land and Governance in UN Habitat and, from September 2015, Head of UN Habitat’s Land and GLTN Unit. Prior to joining the Land and GLTN Unit, Sylla served as a Senior Advisor in UN Habitat’s Regional Office for Africa and focal point to support urban policies development and sustainable urbanisation in francophone countries. From 2009 to 2014, he was Chief Technical Advisor for UN Habitat’s Land Programme in DR Congo and he also has experience with the European Union framework, which he gained as a Land Policy Advisor in South Sudan and Burkina Faso (2006-2008). From 1999 to 2005 he was a Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Legal Anthropology in Paris 1 Sorbonne, mainly working on land and decentralisation policies in West Africa. In Senegal, he worked as a junior researcher within the ILRI/ ISRA institutional cooperation framework (1998-1999) dealing with land and natural resources.

Susan Parnell | Global Challenges Research Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Bristol, UK
Susan Parnell is a Global Challenges Research Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Bristol and Emeritus Professor at the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. She has held previous academic positions at Wits University and the University of London (SOAS). She was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at UCL in 2011/2, Emeka Anyaoku Visiting Chair University College London in 2014/15 and Visiting Professor at LSE Cities in 2017/18. She has been actively involved in local, national and global urban policy debates around the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and is an advocate for better science policy engagement on cities. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications that document how cities, past and present, respond to policy change. Her most recent books include the co-authored Building a Capable State: Post Apartheid Service Delivery (Zed, 2017) and the co-edited The Urban Planet (Cambridge, 2018). Parnell is currently on the Board of the International Institute for environment and Development (IIED) and the ACC and had previously served on several NGO structures.