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Urbanization in Africa: Why nations rely on cities

Published on June 19, 2015

The burgeoning growth of many of cities on the African continent is encouraging optimists who recall the positive historical connection between urbanization and economic growth, but also ringing alarm bells for pessimists who recall the rise of slums in Asia and Latin America. Whichever camp you find yourself in, the reality is that Africa’s governments will need to deal with the rising role and importance of cities. The unanswered question is whether the outcome will be more or less favorable for many, and in that result lies the fortunes of tens of millions of new urban dwellers.

The potential benefits of cities as a result of what economists call agglomeration economies—the gains to having greater densities, specialization and economies of scale, and accompanying virtuous cycles of investment, innovation, skilled labor, and higher incomes—are clearly evident around the world, and not only in advanced economies. Most countries moving up the income ladder have done so in concert with the development of strong cities that generate incomes and jobs, and, if well connected, spread out to intermediate sized cities and economically active peripheries. Hence development aspirants can view cities as important landmarks in their development. Read more. Source | Brookings