Dr Beacon Mbiba

Senior Lecturer in Urban Policy and International Development
Programme Leader, Planning in Developing and Transitional Regions
Research Associate OISD: SPG


Beacon Mbiba joined Oxford Brookes University in 2007 and was formerly Lecturer in Urban Development Policy in the Department of Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE (2005-2007). Mbiba is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK). He has previously taught at the University of Zimbabwe, Development Planning Unit (DPU) University College London, Birkbeck College, London and The University of Reading.

Mbiba has also worked in various Urban Development Policy and Management roles in Africa and the United Kingdom. He teaches core MSc modules (i) Urban Land Policy and Urban Management and (ii) Urban Planning and Policy in Practice and manages the MSc Planning in Developing and Transitional Regions programme.

Research interests and consultancy expertise

Mbiba has research interests in land conflicts, identity, urban and peri-urban transformations and global citizenship in the UK and Africa. He has written and contributed to development policy work on access to land and justice for the poor, productive and inclusive African cities and a leading expert on urban agriculture (visit RUAF Foundation at www.ruaf.org) urban governance, urban housing, rural-urban linkages and poverty alleviation.

In 2008 he was appointed to the five member International Jury for the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment (DIABP) see details of DIABP - detail available On-Line: www.dubaiaward.ae. Recently, he was appointed international consultant (2009-2010) to assess implementation of Results Based Management in UN-HABITAT with specific reference to "the organization's Medium Term Strategic and Institutional Plan (MTSIP)".

Mbiba is a member of several international research networks and contributes to community for example as:

  • Board Member, Editorial Board of Africanus: Journal of Development Studies, published at UNISA, South Africa (appointed 2009)
  • Board Member and Trustee, Cannon Collins Trust – Education for Southern Africa (from 2009) for activities of the trust see www.canoncollins.org.uk
  • Board Member, Hyde Housing Association, London and South East Customer Services Board (from 2002 to 2012) – for activities of Hyde Housing, see www.hyde-housing.co.uk
  • A member of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Focus Group the linchpin for development policy dialogue between the Zimbabwean Diaspora, the Zimbabwean government and HMG United Kingdom.

Examples of recent projects

  • Influencing processes and content of global policies
    • The New Urban Agenda (2016+)

      Even at a time of sluggish global economic growth in 2015, Africa remained the world’s second largest growing economy (3.6%) after East Asia; with East Africa growing at 6.3%. This sustained economic growth since the late 1990s, driven by the services sector, commodities and infrastructure investments in a climate of political stability and better leadership has led to questions of (i) whether Africa is undergoing a structural transformation and (ii) what role current the rapid urban growth and urbanisation contribute to this transformation. These debates coincide with those at global level on the new urban agenda or Habitat III: the agenda to be adopted at a global conference in Quito, October 2016. It is within this context that Mbiba was lead author of the United Nations Habitat III Regional Report for Africa: Progress, Challenges and Priorities in Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in the Africa Region. Download draft report as .pdf

    • Sustainable cities and structural transformation (2016+)

      Africa’s diversity, multi-faceted economic growth and urbanisation is a focal point for African governments, businesses and major international development institutions including the African Development Bank (AfD), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme. These three institutions convened a meeting of international experts in Paris on 8-9th October 2015 at which Mbiba contributed to ideas on and understanding of sustainable cities and structural transformation. The output is a landmark report - African Economic Outlook 2016: Sustainable Cities Structural Transformations, available here or on africaneconomicoutlook.org.

    • Sustainable funding for Africa cities (2016+)

      Africa’s economic growth and urban growth have exposed the huge infrastructure deficit that acts as significant barrier to equitable development. But equally, it is an opportunity for Africa to adopt ‘green infrastructure’ for transport, energy, water and sanitation as well as participatory funding models to unleash the continent’s urbanisation and youth dividends. Mbiba was a panellist at Africa Research Institute, London, on 15 th June 2016 discussing these critical issues under the theme, Sustainable funding for Africa cities, whose podcast and summaries are available africaresearchinstitute.org.

  • Was Expert evaluator for the Czech-Norwegian Research Programme, The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (April – June 2014).
  • Was expert Evaluator for Polish-Norwegian Research Programme, The National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), (http://www.ncbir.pl/en/norwaygrants/) (December 2012 – April 2013)
  • Was appointed Expert Evaluator for the European Commission Research and Innovation Directorate, Covent Garden, Brussels in relation to the Seventh Framework Programme, Social Sciences and Humanities (March – June 2012)
  • Was Expert Evaluator for the European Commission Research and Innovation Directorate, Covent Garden, Brussels in relation to the Seventh Framework Programme, Social Sciences and Humanities (March – June 2011)
  • Consultant to The African Development Bank (Tunisia) to prepare a report titled 'Financing Urban Development in Africa', 18th November 2010 – 27th January 2011.
  • Was appointed Rapporteur on 'Migration and Development: What Links Exist Between the European Policies and the Civil Society's Practices?' for The European Network on Migrations and Development (EUNOMAD) and Association for Regional Economic Development (ADER), Paris; 1st - 30th November 2010, www.eunomad.org
  • Contracted by UN-HABITAT as regional consultant to 'analyze the role of urban growth, urban economies, social development, urban housing, and land conditions in Southern African cities' and drafted the Southern Africa section of the report: 'The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequality and Land Markets' - report launched November 2010, see www.unhabitat.org
  • Contracted by United Nations (HABITAT), to produce background document 'The State of Cities in Southern Africa' for the UN-HABITAT State of African Cities Report 2008/2009 launched at the World Urban Forum, November 2008
  • In 2006 he was consultant to UN International Labour Office, Geneva (ILO) on the role of local authorities in promoting decent work in the construction sector and related services
  • In 2004-2005 Mbiba worked as Policy Research Analyst and Outreach Executive for The Secretariat to the Commission for Africa (CFA). Set up in early 2004 by then UK Prime Minister Hon. Tony Blair, the CFA presented its report in March 2005 and completed its work in July 2005 (for details of report, visit www.commissionforafrica.info)
  • Research projects completed since 2000 include those on access to land for the urban poor in East and Southern Africa funded by IDRC Canada (US$380,000.00); Urban and Peri-Urban Transformations in Africa supported by the British Academy, UK (£20,000.00); Formalization of Urban Markets and Trading (covering Kenya, Ghana and Senegal) funded by Department for International Development (DFID), UK (£190,000.00)
  • Since 1990 he has acted as consultant on impact studies and project evaluations for mining companies and international development organisations and was co-author of the Zimbabwe National Report and Plan of Action on Human Settlements presented at HABITAT II, Istanbul, June, 1996. He completed action oriented research projects as key member of research networks such as the Association of Rural and Urban Planners in East and Southern Africa (RUPSEA), the Swedish funded Gender Research on Urbanization, Housing Planning and Everyday Life in East and Southern Africa (GRUPHEL), and the Mazingira (Nairobi) based African Research Network for Urban Management (ARNUM)
  • Mbiba is Coordinator of Peri-NET (The Urban and Peri-Urban Research Network, Africa).

Examples of recent publications

Mbiba, B. (2014) 'God Does not suffer a credit crunch: Zimbabwean Immigrant business and the Economic Downturn in Britain' (writing in progress).

Mbiba B. (2014) Book review of Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation, London and New York: Zed Books. (Kelsall, Tim, 2013) (forthcoming in International Development Planning Review).

Mbiba, B. (2014) Financing urban development in Africa. Chapter 4 in Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, Abebe Shimeles, Nadège Désirée Yaméogo (eds.) Urbanisation and socio-economic development in Africa: challenges and opportunities. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. http://www.taylorandfrancis.com/books/details/9781138016811/

Mbiba B. (2014) Urban solid waste characteristics and household appetite for separation at source in Eastern and Southern Africa. Habitat International 43 (2014): 152 – 162. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2014.02.001

Mbiba, B. (2012) Zimbabwe’s global citizens in 'Harare North': Livelihood strategies of Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom. Chapter 4 in Chiumbu, S. and Musemwa, M (eds.) Crisis! What Crisis? The Multiple Dimensions of the Zimbabwean Crisis Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council Press.

Mbiba, B. (2012) Zimbabwean Diaspora Politics in Britain: Insights from 'The Cathedral Moment, 2009' Journal of Comparative Commonwealth Politics 50 (2): 225 – 251 (April 2012). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14662043.2012.671606

Mbiba, B. (2011) 'Beyond Abject Space: Enterprising Zimbabwean Diaspora in Britain'. African Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Africa In a Global World, 4: 50 - 75 DOI

Mbiba, B. (2010) 'Burial at Home: Negotiating Death in the Diaspora and in Harare'. Chapter 7 in McGregor, J. and Primorac, R. (eds.) Zimbabwe's New Diaspora: Displacement and Cultural Politics of Survival. London: Berghahn Publishers

Mbiba, B. (2009) Book Review of “Re-living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute”, (by Fay Chung). African Affairs vol. 108 (432): 503-504. DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adp035. ISSN: 0001-9909

Mbiba, B. (2009) Review of Foeken, D. (2006) To Subsidise My Income: Urban Farming in an East-African Town. Leiden and Boston: Koninklijke Brill NV, The Netherlands, 2006. xvi +224 pp. (paperback) in African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society, 108 (430): 152-153. DOI: https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/items/bd60aec9-6886-463e-bc6f-5c7d47bd59c3/1/)

Mbiba, B. and Ndubiwa, M. N. (2009) 'The role of local government in promoting decent work in construction and related services with special reference to Bulawayo City'. Chapter 4 in Lawrence J. R. and Verna, E. (eds.) Labour Conditions for Construction: building cities, decent work and the role of local authorities. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell DOI: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781444306446.ch4/summary

Mbiba, B. (2007) 'Beware Foreign Aid'. Pages 101 - 103 in Moyo, G. and Ashurst, M. (eds.) The Day After Mugabe: Prospects for Change in Zimbabwe. London: Africa Research Institute (visit www.africaresearchinstitute.org)

Mbiba, B. (2006) 'Untold Stories: The Commission for Africa and Zimbabwe'. The Roundtable: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 95, No. 384, 201-218 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00358530600585016

Mbiba, B. (2005) 'Zimbabwe's Global Citizens in "Harare North" United Kingdom: Some Preliminary Observations'. Pages 26 –38 in Palmberg, M. and Primorac, R. (eds.) Skinning A Skunk: Facing Zimbabwean Futures. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute

Mbiba B. and Lyons M. (2003) Good Practice Manual for Development and Formalisation of Markets and Street Trading. London South Bank University. (50pp. ISBN 1-874418-35-7)

Mbiba, B. and Huchzermeyer, M. (2002) 'Contentious Development: Peri-Urban Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa'. Progress in Development Studies, 2 (2): 113-131 DOI: http://pdj.sagepub.com/content/2/2/113.abstract

Mbiba, B. (2001) 'Communal Land Rights in Zimbabwe as State Sanction and Social Control: A Narrative'. Africa, 71(3): 426-448. DOI: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1161545

Recent Appointments as PhD External Examiner

Examined higher degrees (PhD) as external examiner at:

  • University of South Africa, Pretoria, (UNISA), Department of Geography, (2014) PhD Candidate, 7355092.
  • Neslon Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa, Department of Geography (2013) PhD Candidate 208093692
  • University College London (UCL), PhD candidate in the Development Planning Unit, Viva held 14th December 2009. Candidate 39051974
  • University of Oxford, Master of Legal Studies Research, Candidate at Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, VIVA held 25th September 2009
  • University of Sheffield, PhD candidate in the Department of Town and Regional Planning, VIVA held, 23rd April, 2009. Candidate 030180130
  • University of Wales, Swansea (2007/8) – PhD candidate at the Centre for Development Studies School of the Environment & Society. VIVA held February 2008. Candidate 296270

Current PhD Supervision

Four Candidates, each working on projects in Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique and United Kingdom respectively.