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Planned urbanisation critical for Chad’s industrialisation and economic diversification

30 March, 2021
Planned urbanisation critical for Chad’s industrialisation and economic diversification

Yaounde/N’Djamena/Addis Ababa, 30 March 2020 (ECA) – A shortfall in the supply of energy, deficiencies in internal and external transport links, low digital connectivity, limited skills, poor access to finance and a difficult regulatory environment for businesses are hobbling the industrial productive potential of Chad’s urban areas.

It is therefore incumbent on the Chadian Government to address these shortfalls while “increasing the supply of developed and serviced plots around large cities to curb unplanned informal development, creating special economic zones which combine access to infrastructure and instituting regulatory and administrative reforms to make it easier to operate industrial businesses” around urban spaces.

Antonio Pedro, Director of the Central Africa Office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), so-asserted on Tuesday 30 March 2021 during a virtual review of the urbanisation component of Chad’s Industrialisation and Economic Diversification Masterplan (PDIDE, in French), involving several inter-ministerial experts, private sector representatives and academics.

The component has been developed by the Urbanisation Section of ECA at the behest of the Government of Chad to supplement the PDIDE framework of strategies which was adopted in March 2020 following 18 months of work between ECA and Chadian experts.

The PDIDE framework aims to move Chad's economic growth rate from around -2% (in 2017) to more than 8% per year by 2030.

Aside from its deep dive into how productive cities would make planned urbanisation contribute as a new key pillar to delivering on Chad’s PDIDE, the new sub-strategy has three other anchors, notably: economic-sector targeting, the national spatial system, and financing and coordination.

Even with Chad’s relatively low rate of urbanisation (just 23.1% in 2018) when compared with those of other countries in the Sahel, Government needs to move ahead with a consolidated strategy for dealing with an anticipated rapid urban population growth, given its own projection that 70% of Chadians would live in urban areas by 2030, said ECA’s Tidjani Chetima.

In such a scenario, the creation of massive productive employment opportunities especially for young people, would be cardinal.

This is why careful economic-sector targeting becomes necessary, Mr Chetima noted.

“Chad has identified agribusiness, construction, renewable energies and information technologies as priority sectors for industrialisation and economic diversification but it needs to lay emphasis on the agricultural value chain and leverage public investments in mega-infrastructure projects and housing programs to develop the construction sector,” he pointed out.

Focusing on the construction sector would be vital for growth as Chad has huge gaps in the supply of urban housing in spite of construction constituting 20% of its GDP.

Vis-a-vis Chad’s national spatial system, industrialisation and economic diversification efforts must be laser-focussed on about 1 to 3 cities with N’Djamena being the lead, in order to maximise scarce resources and the chances of succeeding. This would require the development of trade and transport infrastructure, as well as special economic zones connected to already existing cities and rural areas in order to make the most of the economies of agglomeration.

As for the financing and coordination axis of the urbanisation sub-strategy, the prescription is for Chad to improve the performance of its tax administration, pursue fiscal decentralisation and enhance economic governance. This, while ensuring the horizontal coordination of efforts between ministries, departments and agencies; the vertical coordination between different levels of government; and cross-coordination between the public and private sectors.

Mallaye Douzounet, Director of Economic Analysis in the Ministry of Economy, Development Planning and International Cooperation of Chad said his country’s high demographic growth rate of 3.6%, while posing challenges to the use of resources, was also an opportunity to grow the middle class with new consumption habits that would invigorate the industrialisation process.

According to Adama Coulibaly who heads the Subregional Initiatives Section of the Central Africa Office of ECA, through PDIDE, designed jointly with Chadian experts, Chad should veer from the catching-up economic mode to a creative economic mode, to become the miracle of the Central African sub-region.

Both officials and experts from Chad, on the one hand, and those from ECA on the other, are looking forward the implementation of PDIDE, classified as priority by President Idriss Déby Itno.




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