Inderscience Publishers

Places for knowledge–based activities in the African medieval knowledge city of Timbuktu

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Efficient and effective use of urban places is among the secrets of creating a holistic knowledge city. This seems to be a key lesson for African cities seeking to transform themselves into knowledge cities. However, the dominant geographies of knowledge–based urban development research and policy in recent years have strong bias on developed and emerging countries together with a focus on the application of information and computing technologies (ICT) as a tool for future development. Furthermore, they have largely focused on the development of a section of the city such as knowledge precincts, business incubators; science and technology parks and knowledge–hubs. This paper asserts that far from being the so–called 'dark continent' Africa's scientific and literary accomplishments were far ahead of most of the other continents at the medieval time and may have some lessons for contemporary societies. Focusing on Timbuktu, 'the city of knowledge', an attempt is made to define and distinguish Timbuktu's gradual development approach from the current quick–fix global approach to knowledge city creation. After discussing the methodology used in the research, the paper identifies the city's important places for knowledge development activities that were the key to its extraordinary achievements. Then it draws up lessons that could prove invaluable for the emerging African countries that seek to use knowledge city as a tool to guide their future development.

Keywords: Timbuktu, knowledge cities, medieval cities, knowledge development actors, knowledge city development, Africa

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