Cities in sub-Saharan Africa are currently confronted with a multitude, and hitherto unexperienced, magnitude of transformative phenomena such as rising inequality, exclusion, poverty and increased residency in informal settlements. These stressors are posing challenges to cities in terms of housing, infrastructure and provision of basic services as well as climate change adaptation. Despite the high dynamics and novel characteristics of city transformation, this urban transition seems to take place rather ‘quietly’ and has, so far, obviously hardly been understood or appreciated by researchers and governments. Subsequently, the multifaceted and extremely challenging problems associated with the process of urbanisation cannot be adequately addressed. Green infrastructure (GI) is currently emerging as a concept for cost-effective urban sustainability and livelihood security. Preservation and provision of accessible urban green spaces is increasingly recognised as an essential part of the liveability of cities. Extensive literature review revealed that the systematic integration of GI concepts in urban planning is seen by an increasing number of researchers as an essential approach to tackle major current and future challenges. Based on the literature review, we suggest that broadening the concept of urban GI by linking it to governance and rights-based conceptualisations will have the potential to unlock more resourceful paths for sustainable, green, and inclusive urban development of cities in Southern and Eastern Africa.