The extension of urban perimeter markedly cuts available productive land. Hence, studies in urban sprawl analysis and modeling play an important role to ensure sustainable urban development. The urbanization pattern of the Greater Asmara Area (GAA), the capital of Eritrea, was studied. Satellite images and geospatial tools were employed to analyze the spatiotemporal urban landuse changes. Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA), Landuse Cover Change (LUCC) analysis and urban sprawl analysis using
Shannon Entropy were carried out.
The Land Change Modeler (LCM) was used to develop a model of urban growth. The Multi-layer Perceptron Neural Network was employed to model the transition potential maps with an accuracy of 85.9% and these were used as an input for the ‘actual’ urban modeling with Markov chains. Model validation was assessed and a scenario of urban land use change of the GAA up to year 2020 was presented. The result of the study indicated that the built-up area has tripled in size (increased by 4,441 ha) between 1989 and 2009. Specially, after year 2000 urban sprawl in GAA caused large scale encroachment on high potential agricultural lands and plantation cover. The scenario for year 2020 shows an increase of the built-up areas by 1,484 ha (25%) which may cause further loss. The study indicated that the land allocation system in the GAA overrode the landuse plan, which caused the loss of agricultural land and plantation cover. The recommended policy options might support decision makers to resolve further loss of agricultural land and plantation cover and to achieve sustainable urban development planning in the GAA.