Renewing Expectations About Africa’s Cities

    By Somik V. Lall

     

    Built with great expectations to connect Africa with growing global trade in the 19th century, many of Africa’s cities today have economies that are predominantly local – not regional or global in their reach. At the same time, Africa’s cities are experiencing rapid population growth, with the urban population predicted to exceed 1 billion by 2040. Why have Africa’s urban economies not been able to keep pace with their burgeoning populations and get into the production of regionally and globally tradable goods and services? And what should policy-makers focus on to renew expectations about Africa’s cities?

     

    This paper makes the case that as long as African cities lack functioning land markets and regulations and early, coordinated infrastructure investments, they will remain local cities:
    Closed to regional and global markets, trapped into producing only locally traded goods and services, and limited in their economic growth.