The urban life cycle theory views urban development in stages which makes it easier for developing urban region to take note of their progress. This essay therefore looks at Luanshya, a small town in the Copperbelt province of Zambia, and tries to determine at what stage in the urban life cycle theory it’s on and why.
Urban development, according to Brooks (2017), is a system of residential expansion that creates cities. It occurs by expanding into unpopulated areas or renovating a decaying region. The concept of urban life cycle theory therefore categorizes urban development into five stages. That is to say; industrialization, rise of service and the transport sector, increase appreciation of the human environment, the knowledge sector and the balanced, harmonious and sustainable development stage.
Industrialization, being the first stage of urban development, is more focused on bringing about economic growth which brings about factories and machinery that help increase the production of goods. When factories or multi factories are established within an area, they draw in a lot of people because of the high demand for factory labor, this eventually leads to urbanization.
The second stage of urban development, according to the urban life cycle theory, is the rise of the service and the transport sector. It is characterized by the rapid rise of prosperity, growth of the number of offices, increase in car ownership and also high priority in government policy for the expansion of transport infrastructure. The environment at this stage is less prioritized.
The third stage, however, is characterized by the appreciation and sustainment of the environment. It focuses in the increase of appreciation for the human environment. At this stage concerns about the environment start arising and thus more weight is given to spatial planning, contraction of families, town renovation and also there is a rise in energy prices in order to reduce on personal vehicles which consequently encourages public transport and thus reduces the number of cars polluting the environment.
The information and communication technology stage, the fourth stage. Cities that have reached this stage have the right to be referred to as knowledge cities. These cities are characterized by being the focal point in the knowledge economy and also powerhouse of modern economies. They are accessible and attractive. Policies in these cities are effective and efficient at all levels.
The fifth and final stage is the balanced, harmonious and sustainable development stage. So far, no city has ever reached this stage, though some are closer than others. This stage is characterized by being attractive, sustainable and accessible. Under this stage people should have a good quality of life, social values, safety and security. Focus at this stage is drawn more on climate change and global economic crisis. If the city’s economy is highly stabled, it becomes easier to focus on global crisis. A city’s economy facilitates its growth.
According to Derek (2016), Zambia’s is one of Africa’s urbanizing nations. There are many areas of improvement when it comes to urban development in Zambia (Derek, 2016). Most small towns in Zambia are unable to provide adequate services and yet they are still capable of presenting a certain level of urban concentration (Zambia advisor, 2016). This is because, rural populations are still dependent on towns that are nearer to them. This shows the high possibility of Zambian towns to generate a rapid economic growth and provide employment to a lot of people. Small urban towns, in Zambia, have experienced growth from the time they were created. Understanding the nature and quality of growth of these towns is important since the functional aspects of a town is determined by considering the most prominent economic sector of a town (Zambia advisor, 2016).
Luanshya town belongs to a family of copper mining towns on the copper belt province of Zambia. Though it has other minerals like cobalt, the town owes its existence to copper. It was founded by an explorer, William collier, in the early parts of the 20th century. It’s said that William collier shot a roan antelope which fell on the ground where copper was exposed, and thus led to the birth of the town. Roan antelope copper mines, the company formed after collier’s adventure was named in honor of the antelope which he had killed.
Ever since the finding of the functional aspects of Luanshya, the town has seen some bad times. With the demise of some mines which become costly to operate, coupled with low prices of copper on the world market, a lot of people where lead off. However, the town did get a lease of life with the development of Muliashi Mines by luanshya copper mines (LCM). This new revival was complemented by the rise in copper prices on the international market. Unfortunately, starting around October 2008, copper prices went down again. This resulted in the closure of mines in January 2009. As a result, about 1,500 employees were declared redundant. On 22nd December 2009, the mining town officially come to life. It was taken over by china non-ferrous mining company luanshya mine (CNCM) 2016, due to low commodity prices, the mines again were on care and maintenance, with over 1,500 employees on the streets.
For a town that as experienced lot of ups and downs with its economy, Luanshya town seems to be doing well nowadays (Mining for Zambia, 2017). Currently they are seven banks in luanshya; Zanaco, Barclays Bank, FNB bank, Finance Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, National Savings and Credit Bank (Natsave), and Bank ABC. On 29th JUNE 2017 a new shopping mall known as Roan Mall was opened. When it comes to social services, almost all social services and activities are connected to mines (Mining for Zambia, 2017). Roan Antelope Recreation club is the biggest area with a lot of sports amenities. They offer tennis club, rugby club, cricket club, bowling and a well-kept swimming pool. There’s also a golf club on the other side of the town.
Instead of just depending on mining as the only functional aspect of the town, luanshya town started branching out and is now picked up farming. In the nearby Mpongwe area, commercial farmers are growing wheat, soya beans and processing their products into chicken feed and cooking oil. Golden Lay, a luanshya based company, produces thousands of trays of eggs a day for the local and regional market. The company is slowly expanding, thanks to the twenty four million dollars of investment secured in 2012 from Phatisa, a private-equity firm which focuses on the development of Africa’s agricultural potential (Mining for Zambia, 2017).
Due to the ups and downs in the economic growth of the copperbelt mining town, Luanshya, it hasn’t yet been able to move from stage one of the urban life cycle theory. The towns is still focused on the development of industries in order to improve its economic status. With the development of the shopping mall and the occurring renovations of some buildings that is happening to date, Luanshya town shows promise
In conclusion, Luanshya is a town in the copperbelt province with mining has its functional aspects. It’s a town that hasn’t been able to move from stage one of the urban life cycle theory because the mining sector, which is the town’s functional aspect, has been experiencing a lot of ups and downs over the years. Currently, the mining sector of the town seems to be stable and the town has started adopting other ways of improving its economy, instead of only depending on the mining sector.
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Mining for Zambia (2017). Luanshya is thriving-but for how long? Retrieved on April 28, 2018
Zambia advisor (2016). Luanshya town. Retrieved on April 28, 2018 from