ECA highlights the need for Africa to place urbanization at the heart of national development planning

Marrakech, 22nd November 2018 (ECA) – “Cities are the grounds for Africa’s structural transformation, and their dysfunction can become an impediment to development. Therefore, urbanization is as much a local agenda as it is a national and regional priority for Africa,” said Lilia Hachem Naas, Director of the ECA Office for North Africa on 22 November at an ECA event on Urbanization and National Development Planning. According to Hachem Naas, the structural transformation of African economies towards more productive and job-rich sectors must take place if high levels of poverty, unemployment and informality on the continent are to be overcome. “A new model based on economic diversification, with a special focus on industrialization and modernization of agriculture and services is urgently needed” to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth, she added.

The Economic Commission for Africa held the session on Urbanization and National Development Planning with the participation of several high-level personalities including the Executive Mayor of OR Tambo District Municipality and National Executive Committee member of the South African Association of Local Governments Nomakhosazana Meth, the mayor of the Ethiopian city of Hawassa Sikuare Shuda, and Cities Alliance Director William Cobbett. 

Chief of the Urbanization Section of the Social Development Policy Division of the ECA Edlam Yemeru stressed the centrality of urbanization to industrialization and development, and thus of the importance of urban issues in effective national development planning.

“To exploit urbanization as a true force for development in Africa, many measures must be put in place because sustainable urbanization that yields positive impacts does not happen by chance”, said UN-HABITAT representative, Omoayena Odunbaku.

A representative of the Kingdom of Morocco offered his country’s experience in integrating urban issues in national development planning, stating in his presentation that Morocco’s actions in urban areas are designed to, “anticipate future needs by creating more wealth to meet the challenges of territorial development, attractiveness and competitiveness”.

Following a fruitful debate, both the distinguished panel of experts and delegates agreed on the need to place urbanization at the heart of national development planning in Africa. Moving forward, participants stressed the need for national development planning across Africa to harness the opportunities created by urbanization in order to achieve for inclusive growth and prosperity.


Issued by:

Social Development Policy Division/Urbanisation Section

Economic Commission for Africa

P.O. Box 3001

Addis Ababa