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Where cities can take Africa

A 21st century vision for urbanisation

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Laurent Bossard, Director of the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club, and Mario Pezzini, Director, the OECD Development Centre, and Acting Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat

Cities like Tangier in the north of Morocco, which has transformed in 15 years into a vibrant metropolitan area of 1.5 million inhabitants, show how Africa’s cities and towns can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.

If urbanisation is one of the most important global trends of the 21st century, with some 70% of the world’s population forecasted to live in cities by 2050, then urbanisation in Africa–and the ways in which that growth occurs–marks one of the most significant opportunities for achieving global sustainable development.

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African cities can be actors of structural transformation

Urban growth’s natural increase

Arthur Minsat, Economist, OECD Development Centre

Unlike in many other regions of the world, people quitting the countryside to settle in cities will not be the main driver of Africa’s urban growth. City and regional policies must go hand in hand as a result.

African nations are exploring how best to harness the potential of cities as agents of change to achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Rory Clarke

Urban growth in Africa’s cities

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Down to business with the informal sector

Urban growth rates for selected countries, 1960-2010 Annual urban growth (%)


David Menascé

The last 15 years have seen the emergence and proliferation of new business models that aim to combine long-term economic viability with beneficial social impacts, via the likes of inclusive businesses, social entrepreneurship, and so on, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Innovative business models are creating new dynamics between formal companies and informal micro-entrepreneurs.

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Migration residual

Urban natural increase

6 5 4 3 2 1

Africapolis: Measuring urbanisation dynamics in West Africa Sahel and West Africa Club

Africa is the least urbanised continent in the world but an urban transition is very much underway. This is particularly visible in West Africa where the number of urban agglomerations increased from 152 in 1950 to almost 2,000 in 2010.

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Source: African Economic Outlook 2016

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