The sudden emergence of ambitious new city projects in Africa recently has produced significant spatial transformation across scales. The advocates and enablers of new cities argue that the development of new urban spaces on a massive scale is necessary for creating modern, world class, smart cities; a precondition for economic competitiveness even though such projects raise concerns regarding their tendency to exacerbate segregation, ecological destruction and the displacement and exclusion of the poor. Focusing on new city projects in Africa, this research explores (1) the drivers and rationales for new cities; the urban governance regimes that shape them; and (3) their socio-spatial outcomes. The research is based on multiple sources of data including in-depth key informant interviews, policy and archival document reviews, the internet, and spatial analysis. It is suggested that the ongoing spatial transformations are linked to broader changes in the global economy, such as neoliberalisation and capital mobility, as well as ambitious city or state governments seeking to create world-class cities. Both domestic and foreign actors are involved in new cities development in Africa. These actors are motivated by profit with little or no regard for social inclusion and equity. Two key arguments emerge: (1) new cities are not the solution to Africa’s urban challenges and (2) socio-materialities of existing cities should be an important focal point for new cities development and urban planning in Africa.