Karim Kane is a carpenter, not a speculator. But the plot of land he bought a decade ago is worth nearly 25 times what he paid for it. In 2007, the village chief sold it to him for the equivalent of about $450. Kane built a house for his wife and six children on land that today he reckons is worth nearly $11,000 (R166,000). The area is little more than muddy hills with scattered plots of land given over to cows and goats. Pedlars lead donkey carts loaded with plastic cans of water. But despite its semi-rural appearance, Kane has no doubt that he is now a resident of Mali's capital. "I'm a Bamakois," he says, using the French word for a citizen of Bamako. Almost unnoticed, Africa has become the world's most rapidly urbanising continent. From 2018 to 2035, the UN predicts that the world's 10 fastest-growing cities will be African. It's a trend that has already enveloped Kane, whose land has been swallowed up by Yirimadio, the fastest-growing part of Bamako, which may itself be the fas...

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