Just a decade ago most African governments were at best, aspatial in their development ambitions, and more often than not, anti-urban. In 2016, the political and policy landscape looks significantly different. At a pan-African level, the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa actively promote “sustainable urbanization”, encourage democratic decentralisation, and work with various institutions to enlarge the flow of finance to address the massive infrastructure deficits that place a break on sustained economic growth and human development. However, there is a real danger that generic policy prescriptions of the international policy circuit will unthinkingly be imposed on Africa. In the midst of the globalisation of urban development policy prescripts that inevitably accompany the Habitat III processes, this risk is even more acute. In recognition of this, Cities Alliance and the African Centre for Cities are seeking to advance more contextually relevant and bold urbanization policy perspective that more meant as a provocation than neat solutions. At the core of this argument is a desire to confront the interconnected challenges of systemic un- and under-employment, large-scale service delivery deficits, environmental degradation, ad hoc technological investments and unresponsive governance. In this talk I will present the outlines of this argument as the beginning of a sustained engagement with the research of the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities and new partners on the African continent.