Expert Group Meeting onIntegrating Urbanization in National Development Planning for Inclusive Cities




CONTACT: Semia Solange Guermas de Tapia, Social Affairs Officer, Urbanization Section, Social Development Policy Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa



Addis Ababa, 9 October 2017 – There is a tectonic shift under way in the choice of where and how Africans would like to live. In less than 20 years from now half of Africa’s ballooning population will be urban dwellers. By 2050 that could reach 60 per cent.

While these projections hold many advantages for African nations, right now they pose a stiff test for policy makers to manage this urbanization strategically and transform Africa. One of the main task before policy makers is to start a new narrative on urbanization, beyond its sole demographic dimensions to include its environmental, economic, social and cultural facets. At the policy level, this new approach would clearly need to be translated into better integration and coordination between sectoral, territorial and urban policies. National development plans, which are surging in the continent, offer the best framework to implement this new approach. 

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is supporting member States better assess the potential of urbanization for structural transformation, and, in a pioneering work, to better position the new urban agenda in their national development strategies.

 This issue will be the focus of an Experts Group Meeting to be held on 9 and 11 October, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meeting will bring together around 25 experts from the continent, representing ministries of national development planning, urban development and academia as well as the United Nations system. It will provide a platform to heighten understanding, multi-stakeholder dialogue, networking and coordination on urbanization, structural transformation, and national development planning.  Participants will provide inputs and validate a report on Integrating Urbanization in National Development Planning for Inclusive Cities.

This report prepared by the Urbanization Section of the Commission’s Social Development Policy Division includes the basis and conceptual framework on the need to integrate urbanization into national development planning in Africa, in its drive for inclusive structural transformation. Other aspects of the report are the assessment of case studies undertaken in some African countries (Cameroun, Chad, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia), and examples from others in Asia and Latin America. The report also draws out overarching themes and conclusions, and recommends actions that African countries could take to integrate urbanization in national development planning.  When finalized, the report will inform the preparation of training materials on applying this approach to promote inclusive and sustainable cities for Africa’s structural change.

Urbanization cuts across social, economic, political, cultural and environmental dimensions of development.  Despite Africa’s impressive economic growth, high unemployment, inequality and poverty are threats to sustaining this momentum. Overcoming these challenges will require transforming our cities into platforms for technological innovation, industrialization, and modernization of agriculture.

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