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Africa Needs More Affordable Cities, says World Bank!

 

The number of people living in sub-Saharan African cities is growing rapidly:

An additional 187 million people are expected to live in urban areas by 2025, the equivalent of the entire population of Nigeria. However, the economies in these cities are not keeping pace because they are crowded, disconnected and costly.

These factors make cities such as Lagos in Nigeria, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Kampala in Uganda relatively unattractive to investors and entrepreneurs, meaning they produce few goods and services for trade on global and regional markets, the report finds.

“What Africa needs are more affordable, connected, and livable cities,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for Africa. “Improving the economic and social dividends from urbanization will be critical as better developed cities could transform Africa’s economies.”

The report proposes a number of reforms, including formalizing land markets, clarifying property rights and instituting effective urban planning, as well as investing more in physical and institutional infrastructure.

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The way African cities have been built and organized has led to people living in smaller, fragmented neighborhoods that lack good and affordable transportation to connect people to jobs. Cities in Africa are significantly more fragmented than those in Asia and Latin America, which is a major factor preventing urban areas from reaching their economic potential, the report finds.

Without either high physical density or adequate connective infrastructure, an urban area falls short of its potential.

High costs of living are also making African cities unattractive to companies looking to set up businesses. Housing, food and transport in a sub-Saharan African city cost, on average, nearly 30 percent more than in other regions with similar income levels. African urban dwellers pay 55 percent more for housing and 35 percent more for food.

These higher living costs mean that companies need to pay higher wages, making them less competitive than their global rivals. As a result, companies tend to remain local in scope, missing out on global trading opportunities, and also passing higher costs on to their local customers.

To address these issues, the World Bank is calling on African leaders to implement policy and investment reforms to move cities in a more globally competitive direction.

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Written by How Africa

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