The book contains 17 chapters with material from 13 African countries, from Egypt to Swaziland and from Senegal to Kenya. Most of the authors are young African academics. The focus of the volume is the multitude of voluntary associations that has emerged in African cities in recent years. In many cases, they are a response to mounting poverty, failing infrastructure and services, and more generally, weak or abdicating urban governments. Some associations are new, in other cases, existing organizations are taking on new tasks. Associations may be neighbourhood-based, others may be city-wide and based on professional groupings or a shared ideology or religion. Still others have an ethnic base. Some of these organizations are engaged in both day-to-day matters of urban management and more long-term urban development. Urban associations challenge the monopoly of local and central government institutions.