Spatial Development Research

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Research and analysis undertaken through the joint DFID-World Bank program was presented at a workshop in Washington December 16 – 17, 2015.


Without information about the spatial development of their cities, African policymakers are left to take decisions in the dark. Without knowing where people are locating, where residential areas are growing, and where informal settlements may be expanding, they are likely to make inefficient decisions.

To help fill that gap, the World Bank Chief Economist Office for the Africa Region and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) launched a research partnership to document the evolution of the spatial structure of African cities and its implications for productivity and living standards.

The partnership within the framework of a larger research program on spatial development of cities supported by the Multi-donor Trust Fund for Sustainable Urban Development (MDTF SUD). This work is unique, using high-resolution satellite imagery to classify urban areas and describe the evolution of city form over time, which few studies have attempted.

The DFID-World Bank collaboration is producing a substantial set of Research Papers and Policy Notes, in addition to a flagship policy report on the Spatial Development of African Cities that will offer new insights on urban development in the continent.

In December 2015, the World Bank hosted a workshop in Washington to give an overview of the research and analysis underway through the partnership. Authors of the various papers and notes presented on their work, which ranged from an overview of spatial development in Africa to transport, land market, and issues related to economic performance.

Here are the presentations from the workshop, organized by topic. PDF files of the available presentations are attached to this post for downloading. Please note that the presentations are still a work in progress:


Spatial Development of African Cities: Key Issues and Analytic Framework

  • Context and Key Issues.  Somik Lall, Lead Economist, World Bank
  • Analytic Framework for the Research Program.  Paul Collier, University of Oxford


The Fabric of Cities: Is African Spatial Development Different?  

  • Density with Agglomeration?   Vernon Henderson, LSE
  • Evolving Fragmentation of Land Use.   Neeraj Baruah, LSE
  • Where People Move To: Built Cover vs. People.   Julia Bird, University of Oxford
  • Morphology of Land Cover and Built Structures in African Cities.  Sarah Antos, World Bank


Spatial Structure and Transport in African Cities

  • Modelling City Structures.  Tony Venables, University of Oxford
  • Coordinating Land Use and Transport to Connect People with Opportunities: Lessons from NairobiPaolo Avner, World Bank
  • Road Expansion and Inferred Local Growth.   John Felkner, Florida State University


Building African Cities: Land Market Failures and Planning

  • Building African Cities.  Vernon Henderson, LSE
  • Planning Spatial Redevelopment: Addis.  Simon Franklin, University of Oxford
  • Retrofit or Plan Ahead: Evidence from Dar.  Guy Michaels, LSE
  • Is Addis Ababa Trapped into Mixed Land Use?  Klaus Deininger, World Bank
  • Failure of Land Markets in Nairobi: Who Owns the Slums?  Tanner Regan, LSE


Productivity, Costs and Competitiveness

  • Urban Form, Competitiveness and the Transition to Tradables.  Tony Venables, University of Oxford
  • Urban Wage Premium and Costs in Africa: Myth or Reality?  Tracy Jones, University of Oxford
  • Compensating Variation in Urban Amenities.  Doug Gollin, University of Oxford
  • Crime and Trust in African Cities.  Martina Kirschberger, Columbia University