Since the 17th Urban Age conference was hosted in Addis Ababa, the Urban Age focused on urban transformation in Africa. 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050, the vast majority in Africa and Asia. Yet, much of the infrastructure to support this urban expansion is yet to be built. To contribute to the exploration, the Urban Age has carried out new research on African cities. The dynamics of growth and change of sub-Saharan African cities – their size, population, density and social and economic profiles – are presented alongside those of emerging cities in Asia and more mature urban centres of developed nations. The aim is not to create a ranking of urban performance or ‘success’ but to better inform the decisions that are taken today that will shape urban lives for generations to come.
ESSAYS: PERSPECTIVES ON AFRICA
The essays in this publication provide context and perspective on the challenges faced by developing cities: from fragmented urbanisation and economic inefficiency, to environmental damage and limited democratic accountability.
AFRICA’S URBAN TRANSFORMATION
Africa, along with Asia, is the epicentre of global urbanisation. This transition will undoubtedly result in considerable challenges including demand for employment, services and infrastructure. At the same time, it presents significant opportunities to enable structural transformation, if well planned and managed. READ ON
PARADOXES OF AFRICAN URBANISM
Africa’s past is rural. Africa’s future is urban. The growth of Africa’s cities offers tremendous economic, social and political upsides. Urban agglomerations have generated industrialisation, cultural breakthroughs and democratisation, but there are also downsides of urbanisation. READ ON
17′ URBAN AGE SPEAKERS
Hear from the
Challenges for young Africa: Alcinda Honwana
Africa’s economic potential: Abebaw Alemayehu
Defining African urbanism: Edgar Pieterse
Core Challenges for African cities: Panel discussion
DATA: AFRICAN URBAN DYNAMICS
Africa’s exports are dominated by fuels and primary commodities (71%). Manufactured goods account for a much smaller share of exports (18%) and are the largest share of Africa’s imports (63%). However, growth in manufactured goods for export suggests urbanisation is weaning Africa off extraction-based wealth, through industry only employs about 9 per cent of the female and 16 per cent of the male workforce, with approximately half of Africa’s workforce employed in agriculture. African countries have experienced significant poverty reduction, with the fastest reductions in urban areas. Through recent growth in African cities has led to increases in per capita incomes, reduced poverty and improved living standards, many African countries experience high levels of income inequality.