Africa’s city dwellers enjoy higher quality of life
Despite facing several challenges, Africa’s cities have provided easier access to services, jobs and infrastructure for millions of people in the last 30 years, compared to smaller communities, a new report finds.
The report Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics: The Economic Power of Africa’s Cities, shows that urban areas in Africa have outperformed the countries in which they are located by higher margins than seen in other parts of the world.
Jointly produced by the OECD-Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC), the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the study covered 2600 cities across 34 countries. The Sahel and West Africa Club is an independent, international platform that promotes regional policies to improve the economic and social wellbeing of people in the Sahel and West Africa. The OECD houses its secretariat.
According to Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD and SWAC’s honorary president, African cities have maintained their economic performance despite growing by 500 million people over the last 30 years, providing several hundred million with better jobs and improved access to better jobs and infrastructure, this in a context of very limited public support and investment.
The report finds that urbanisation has driven approximately 30% of Africa’s per capita GDP growth in the last 20 years. This has contributed to economic transformation in urban areas, where skilled workers account for 36% of the workforce versus roughly 15% in rural—as well as access to financial services.
Larger cities positively influence small towns and rural areas in their vicinity in terms of education, infrastructure, and access to services. For example, the share of rural households that has a bank account is twice as high among rural households that live within 5km of a city as among those that live 30km from the closest city.
Africa’s economic and social transition
“Africa’s urban transition is shaping the continent at a very fast pace and this shift is not just demographic. It is an economic and social transition,” says Edlam Abera Yemeru, ECA’s Ag. Director, Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division.
“Africa has a unique opportunity to get urbanisation right, as most of its urban growth has not yet taken place. Cities and urban growth need to be planned in advance, it is impossible and sometimes too expensive to undo and redo the physical form of cities once urbanisation happens,” she says.
Yemeru adds that there is a strong connection between African urbanisation and its youthful population. She says that between 1980 and 2015, Africa experienced a 362% increase in the number of youth residing in urban areas. According to the report, children in large cities receive almost five years more education on average than children in rural areas.
Africa’s most significant transformation
“Urbanisation is one of the most important transformations the African continent will undergo this century,” says Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank Vice President for the Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation. Quaynor reiterates Dr Mayaki’s point that evidence should lead to policies and then to funding, and urged stakeholders to pay attention to anticipated demographic, social and economic transitions that will influence and be influenced by Africa’s growing urbanisation.
The African Development Bank has raised its financing for the urban sector from an average of €100-million a year in 2005-2009 to more than €400-million in 2018. In 2020, it launched the Urban and Municipal Development Fund to scale up support for African urban development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Bank’s High-5 operational priorities.
More recently, the Bank provided €22.4-million in funding for preparatory studies for the USD15.6-billion Abidjan-Lagos highway corridor, a project that will link the two cities via Accra, Lomé, and Cotonou and create an axis generating nearly 75% of commercial activity in the West Africa region.
Cities could be even more powerful engines of growth, according to the report, which offers recommendations for policymakers to strengthen the economic potential of urban areas. National governments should anchor cities in urban planning through better coordination of national and local development policies and investing in services and infrastructure to connect cities and raise productivity.
Governments should also boost local resource mobilisation and investment capacity by increasing local sources of revenue in the form of taxes, tariffs and fees and access to debt financing.
WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. WhyAfrica specialises in African affairs and natural resources. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021. The company will undertake a road trip through South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana in June and July 2022. If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a wide range of different packages and combo deals to give your company the greatest exposure to a rapidly growing, African readership.
The April issue of WhyAfrica’s magazine is available in print and on the way to Cape Town to be displayed at the Investing in African Mining Indaba from 9 to 12 May 2022. The magazine will also be distributed in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana during WhyAfrica’s Southern Africa Overland Road Trip, the company’s new and innovative platform. WhyAfrica has expanded its product range and now offers its readers, followers, advertisers, subscribers and partners the following:
- Daily 24/7 online articles on WhyAfrica’s website (FREE)
- Daily updates on WhyAfrica’s social media platforms (FREE)
- Newsletters delivered to a handpicked audience every two weeks (FREE)
- Two printed magazine per year distributed at large events and during our road trips across Africa featuring original, in-depth articles (FREE) with great, on-site photographs by the WhyAfrica team (FOR SALE UPON REQUEST)
- Three digital magazines per year (FREE)
- Live updates, video clips, articles, and podcasts during and after WhyAfrica’s annual road trips (Southern Africa in 2022, East Africa in 2023 and West Africa in 2024) (FREE)
- Sponsorship and advertising opportunities for the annual WhyAfrica Overland Road Trips (PAID FOR)
- A library where companies doing business in Africa can display scientific or research papers (PAID FOR)
- A product section where companies doing business in Africa can display new offerings or services (PAID FOR)
- Media partnerships with, and a presence at, most of the major conferences and exhibitions in the African mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, water management, ESG, environmental management, tourism, development, and conservation sectors (FREE)
- WhyAfrica connects potential investors with new ventures in Africa and suppliers and service providers with existing companies in Africa (PAID FOR)
- WhyAfrica assists companies in generating content focused on the wider African business community (PAID FOR)
- Partnerships with companies doing business in Africa (PAID FOR)
- Partnerships with companies thinking about expanding into Africa (PAID FOR)
- In 2023 subscribers will have access to our in-depth articles about the African political economy, research, and country reports about the countries we visit on our road trips, and trends in the sectors that we cover (PAID FOR)
- A WhyAfrica book is in the pipeline and if all goes according to plan, should be published towards the end of 2023 (PAID FOR)
- The WhyAfrica consultancy arm assists and advises companies doing business in Africa through utilising our extensive global business network (PAID FOR)
Become part of the WhyAfrica community. Tell us your story. Expand your footprint across Africa and partner with us to make the most of your African experience.