2023 Photo Competition Exhibition

RISE Africa 2023 Photo Competition Exhibition

Theme for 2023: The Cities We Want

We invite you to share photographs and other visual representations (cartoons, drawings, paintings, collages, etc.) that embody your vision of The Cities We Want — echoing our rich urban past, grounded in the realities of the present and looking towards the possibilities of the future.

The brief

How do the various aspects of your city — struggle and celebration, challenges and opportunities, and everything in between — come together to shape its unique identity?

How are people harnessing African knowledge, ingenuity and experience to address critical urban challenges?

What compassionate, creative and innovative acts serve as examples of the Cities We Want? 

What the judges wanted to see

Show us the visions, inspirations and actions in your city that serve as the blueprints for The Cities We Want. We are looking for provocative or innovative images with strong aesthetic value, meaningful content and alignment with the theme. These images can be abstract or literal, strictly photographic or multimedia — as long as they are still (no video or audio, please). The subjects of your photography should truthfully and positively represent people and their cities.

Criteria for selection

Aesthetic Value

Provocative or Innovative Imagery

In Line with Theme


Winner $500

Two finalists $200


Stephen Ofori Amo | @creativeofori

Location: Accra, Ghana
Title: Reviving African Unity: Harnessing Public Transport to Address Urban Challenges and Climate Change

The African value of unity has been a pillar of many communities for generations, promoting peaceful coexistence and social harmony. Unfortunately, urbanization has led to private lifestyles, such as high adoption of private vehicles, and a decline in social ties. This has led to exacerbated urban challenges, such as traffic and carbon emissions. However, public transport systems, such as Ghana’s ‘Trotro’, provide an opportunity to rekindle the value of togetherness and unity, as it brings people with diverse professions and backgrounds together while also reducing private car usage, carbon emissions, and traffic severity. My photographs suggest a ‘public transport day’ event where city settlers utilize public transport and engage in planting activities that can help promote sustainable, green cities. Let’s work towards a city that fosters unity, sustainability, and hope for all.


Daniel Sekyi Attah | @Ghanamustgooo

Location: Accra, Ghana
Title: Wonderful Ally

The city we want and yearn to create as a continent must stretch beyond the near future. And moulding such a sustainable society depends on what we feed the younger generation of today. For they shall in turn wield and pass the legacy of our culture and dream unto the next. Education, one of the strongest pillars for building and strengthening a society, I believe can make or unmake one, and equipping the present younger generation with requisite skills and knowledge today, is the surest way of ensuring that the society we’re trying to build would fall into trusted hands.

For what good is a society, amazing and bright, but in the hands of those who know not its worth or light?

Mistakes have been made. Lessons have been learnt. Experience has been a great teacher. Hope has been a wonderful ally. But our blood, sweat and tears won’t get to see the smiles on posterity if the dark side of history is to continue.

So, let us endeavour to educate, teach and empower the younger generations, for a bright and sustainable future. Let us sow great seeds in the present, and watch as future society blooms and succeeds. Let us strive to rewrite the stereotype of the African narrative, to show posterity how to keep our legacies alive.

The city we want starts with you and I and teaching future generation to shy away from conventional mistakes of today. For beyond the near future, lies new hopes and dreams for our dear land.

Julie Gura | @julz_kinyi

Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Title: Our Nairobi

Nairobi is a beautiful, chaotic blend of diversity. Unfortunately, there have been several attempts to create divides between people, which have been extended to the fabric of our city. In recent times, we are seeing a shift from this way of thinking to a Nairobi that embraces uniqueness. From our skyline that boasts different architectural masterpieces, our evolving public transport system connecting different parts of the city that were previously inaccessible to our public spaces that allow us to express ourselves through art, music and dance. However, there are more opportunities to create an even more diverse and inclusive Nairobi that is safe, accessible and caters for the functional needs of all its people. Regardless of gender, social status, age, ability, ethnicities among other differences. A shared Nairobi. Our Nairobi.


Antony Trivet | @antonytrivetphotography

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

A city to accommodate all walks of life. Whether you walk, cycle, ride, drive or even skate, there should be consideration when upgrading the city to come up with great road lanes to accommodate all.

Benjamin Kollenberg | @benjakollenberg

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Title: Empower

This submission depicts the Empowershack development – a pilot project for ground-breaking affordable housing in informal settlements. Situated in BT-Section, Site C, Khayelitsha, the Empowershack project formally houses a community of 73 families, previously living in unsafe, unstable and illegal ‘shacks’ on the very same site. The existing communities are reinforced, with the added formality (upgraded service infrastructure, titles deeds, etc.) providing a sense of belonging and solidifying identities within the city, while simultaneously widening individuals social and economic possibilities and an immediate increased safety in their daily life.

The residents had shaped their realities through the complex context of life in a marginalized community. Without ignoring the nuanced nature of human ingenuity, the development responds to these experiences, protecting, dignifying and empowering residents to continue to evolve and adapt their development. The result is a precedent for and proof of the possible city we want, where dignity, existing communities and human experience are prioritized, through creative, alternative housing models that are adaptable, replicable and scalable.” 

Emmanuel Obuobi Bekoe | @Obeimages

Location: Accra, Ghana
Title: Your hair is your crown, wear it

Since childhood, I have had my hair cut to fit what society accepts, but recently I started asking why young girls and boys have their hair cut throughout school until they gain some level of rebellion and freedom and decide to keep their hair. I believe that this is a bad way to bring us up. Our hair is beautiful and it is part of what makes us unique as Africans. To make our kinky hair straight or permed or wavy is a bit unnatural, and I wish we all would become aware of our identity as Kinky-haired people.”

Emmanuel Obuobi Bekoe | @Obeimages

Location: Accra, Ghana
Title: A wholesome, fearless city

This is the city i imagine
A city that appreciates nature
A city where love means freedom instead of shackles
A city where men are vulnerable, ready to learn, ready to help and where men show emotions
A city where more people use the bus and bicycles to reduce traffic
A city where people can be bold, courageous and perform stunts
A city where motorists lives are respected and where they also practice safety
A city where the young men dream where there is love amongst brethren and not strife
A city where we prioritize purpose over recognition.

Kevin Maimba | @wairiuk0_photography

Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Title: Improved infrastructure for a better tomorrow

An economy needs reliable infrastructure to connect supply chains and efficiently move goods and services across borders. It connects households across metropolitan areas to higher quality opportunities for employment, healthcare and education.

Lack of infrastructure discourages investment. For example, an investor will not invest in absence of basic infrastructure such as transport and communication. When these infrastructures don’t operate properly, the chain of production is disrupted. This disruption hinders development, which causes economic deficit and, in turn, brings low standards of living.

With proper infrastructure, more African countries stand a chance to become economic powerhouses. Better infrastructure means a better economy and quality of life.

Nasiru Kozzo Ali | @kozzographa

Location: Jos, Nigeria
Title: Rest assured; from my head to-ma-toes.

A city without a firm and thriving economy cannot stand the test of time. So, for every city we want, we must equally want the best economy for it to make it stand amongst other cities. This picture was taken during the 2023 Ramadan period, and as seen in the image, a tomato petty trader, although tired, still fulfilled his part in building the biggest food market in Nigeria (Farin Gada market) by setting his products for buyers within and outside the city to purchase. The only hinderance to this market being globally recognized for its enormous daily supply of fresh food across the country and abroad by farmers is government intervention and empowerment of farmers and traders. The market lacks facilities to make buyers and sellers comfortable, and everyone wants to leave the rowdiness in a hurry, but not the Sleeping and Patient tomato trader in the image.”

Thato Wessie | @moments_by_thatso

Location: Delft, Cape Town, South Africa
Title: A Colourful City

South Africans thrive in humanity, community, and unity. The city I want is one that replicates what Africans know and have lived by for many generations: Ubuntu (humanity). The city I imagine re-invites what South Africans are slowly losing; that is, their community spirit. A community brings all nations together, providing a sense of celebration, grief and unity. A community is what builds future leaders, poets, educators and doctors of tomorrow. Every child born in Africa speaks of a common childhood memory, and that is of their homeland experience. As South Africans, our cities are developing day by day, although they are slowly losing the essences of what a community is. Crime parades the streets of neighbourhoods, and low-cost, water-absorbent houses have made living conditions within uncomfortable. The city I imagine is one that mixes the old and the new style of community spirit whilst developing a sustainable design of buildings.