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Economic Report on Africa 2017

Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa’s Transformation

image of Economic Report on Africa 2017

The 2017 Economic Report on Africa focuses on the linkages between industrialization and urbanization. Urbanization is one of Africa mega trends with profound implications for the social, economic, environmental dimensions of growth and transformation. Theory and experience demonstrate that industrialization and urbanization can be mutually reinforcing processes. It is therefore imperative to explore the linkages between urbanization and industrialization given the profound implications for structural transformation in Africa. So far, current policy narratives and frameworks on structural transformation and industrialization in Africa have largely failed to factor in the spatial and urban dimensions of industrialization, and in particular the advantages presented by productivity enhancement and agglomeration effects generated by cities. Yet, the nexus between urbanization and industrialization is of particular relevance for Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Both agendas recognize urbanization as a critical factor for sustainable development. It is also important to consider urbanization and industrialization in light of Africa’s engagement with the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. In this context, African policy makers have clearly recognized urbanization as an engine of structural transformation for inclusive and sustainable growth.

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An overview of urbanization and structural transformation in Africa

Urbanization is one of the defining forces of the planet’s 21st century development. In 1950 the urban share of the world’s population was 30 per cent, but by 2050 it may well be 66 per cent. Nearly 90 per cent of the increase will be in Africa and Asia, the fastest urbanizing global regions (UNDESA, 2014).

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