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The Economic Power of Africa's Cities

Joint publication launch by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development / Sahel and West Africa Club (OECD/SWAC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics 2022, The Power of Africa’s Cities.

Margherita Fadda

Moderator

date

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

13:00-14:00

Is over
place
Urban Expo: Urban Library room
organization
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat
country
Global
language
English
theme
Integrated Governance in Spatial Planning for a More Just, Green, and Healthy Urban Future
Reference: 
UL 7

Summary

Joint publication launch by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development / Sahel and West Africa Club (OECD/SWAC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics 2022, The Power of Africa’s Cities. Based on data from more than 4 million individuals and firms in 2 600 cities in 34 African countries, the report shows compelling evidence that urbanisation in Africa contributes to better economic outcomes and higher living standards. The session will first present these results, which show that across most socio-economic dimensions — wages, share of skilled employment, education levels, access to services and infrastructure — African cities significantly outperform the rural areas of the countries in which they are located . African businesses benefit from the agglomeration economies generated by growing cities. Urbanisation accounts for approximately 30% per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth of Africa in the past 20 years. Importantly, the gains from urbanisation on economic performance and quality of life extend beyond city boundaries, benefitting smaller towns and rural areas close to urban areas. Despite these results, economic and political constraints continue to limit the potential contribution of cities to economic growth and social development. Doubts about the impact of urbanisation on Africa’s development have reduced the political ambitions required to support urban economies, slowing down policy processes to make urbanisation a central part of development strategies and promoting local government’s role in economic development. As a result, key investments on infrastructures and services – the enablers of existing and future economic performance - stall, hindering the potential contribution of cities to economic growth and social development. This session will present and discuss policy priorities that can empower cities to embrace fully their role of economic drivers. Firstly, public policies should put urban economies at the centre of national development plans. Embedding local economies in national economic planning will be a prerequisite to the development of coherent policy packages that leverage national and local economic strengths. Secondly, economic planning and policies need to be paired with investments that accompany cities’ growth. Thirdly, local governments will need increased fiscal capacity to follow the implementation of economic policies and provide the infrastructure and services required to maintain and increase their economies’ performance. Regular and predictable governmental transfers, wider fiscal capacity and accessible debt financing will be essential to ensure that insufficient infrastructure and public services are no longer an obstacle to economic development. PRELIMINARY AGENDA Report presentation (25 minutes) Roundtable discussion (20 minutes) Q&A session with the audience (15 minutes)

Objectives

This event will launch the report titled “Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics 2022, The Economic Power of Africa’s Cities”. The key objective of the session is to present the outcomes of the report, commenting on the economic performance of cities and on their contribution to the socio-economic growth of the countries they are located in. The session intends to kindle a debate on cities’ role in economic development and on the required policies that can support national and local governments in their efforts to make urban economies more sustainable and equitable. The co-authors: AfDB, OECD/SWAC and UNECA, together with academia, private sector, NGOs and research centres experts, will discuss the need for governments to adapt national development plans to better integrate the central role cities and urbanisation play in sustainable development, towards an integrated, peaceful and united Africa. The session will further address the following issues: 1. Improve the coordination of economic policies at local, national and regional level, with the ambition of promoting productive, inclusive and liveable cities; 2. Empower local governments with the institutional support and competencies required for them to play a central role in the shaping and positioning of their cities’ local economies; 3. Enhance the fiscal capacity of local governments and increase investments that support cities’ economic performance.

Session speakers

Speaker
Role
Organization
Country
Mr. Philipp Heinrigs
Head of Unit
OECD - Sahel and West Africa Club
Mr. Marios Pournaris
Associate Social Affairs Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Mr. Ole Pilgaard Stubdrup
City Diplomacy and Urban Development
Urban and Municipal Development Fund, African Development Bank
Ms. Margherita Fadda
Policy Analyst
OECD - Sahel and West Africa Club