Syndicate content

Urban Development

Understanding the informal economy in African cities: Recent evidence from Greater Kampala

Angus Morgan Kathage's picture
Informal metal worker in Katwe, Kampala. Photo: Angus Morgan Kathage/World Bank

The informal sector is a large part of employment in African cities. The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 66% of total employment in Sub-Saharan African is in the informal sector. With a pervasive informal sector, city governments have been struggling with how best to respond. On the one hand, a large informal sector often adds to city congestion, through informal vending and transport services, and does not contribute to city revenue. Furthermore, informal enterprises are typically characterized by low productivity, low wages and non-exportable goods and services. On the other hand, the informal sector provides crucial livelihoods to the most vulnerable of the urban poor. 

Urbanization in Nigeria: Planning for the Unplanned

Salim Rouhana's picture
Since 2011, when floods destroyed the bridge that once stood here, the only way members of this Ibadan community can cross the river is by walking across it when the water is low. As the river grows during the rainy season, the community remains separated from the city. © Ivan Bruce, World Bank

“City plans must fit the people, not the other way round.” Jane Jacobs, journalist and urban studies author

Ibadan,  the third largest metropolitan area in Nigeria after Lagos and Kano,  has organically grown from around 60,000 inhabitants in the early 1800’s to more than three million today, and is projected to reach 5.6 million by 2033. The city’s urban footprint continues to sprawl due to weak land use planning that leads to the proliferation of informal settlements in flood prone areas. 

Rising from the Ashes: How fires in Addis Ababa are shedding light on the need for resilience

Maria Angelica Sotomayor's picture

On January 22, 2012 at 6:00 am in the morning, Ethiopians living in the Efoyta Market neighborhood in Addis Ababa woke up to a burning five-story building. More than 13 hours later, the fire had killed two people, destroyed 65,000 square miles including several homes and businesses, and produced damages amounting to ETB 20 million ($1 million), a huge amount in a country where nearly 30% of the population live on less than  $1.90 a day.   

La place des villes dans un Sénégal émergent

Salim Rouhana's picture
Also available in: English

Avec près de la moitié de la population résidant en zones urbaines, le Sénégal présente un taux d’urbanisation supérieur à la moyenne observée en Afrique subsaharienne (40 %). Dans ce pays, la proportion de citadins a quasiment doublé ces dernières décennies — de 23 % dans les années 1960, elle est passée à 43 % en 2013  et devrait s’établir à 60 % à l’horizon 2030. Certes, cet essor s’accompagne d’immenses défis, mais il offre aussi aux responsables sénégalais l’occasion d’opérer une transformation structurelle de l’économie.

Cities for an emerging Senegal

Salim Rouhana's picture
Also available in: Français

With almost half of its population living in urban areas, Senegal is ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa’s average urbanization rate of 40%. Senegal’s urban population has almost doubled in the last few decades, rising from 23% in 1960 to 43% in 2013, and is projected to reach 60% by 2030. This growth comes with immense challenges, but also constitutes an opportunity for Senegalese policymakers to structurally transform the Senegalese economy.

What will Kenya’s urban future look like for newborns James and Maureen?

Dean Cira's picture

Last year two of my friends welcomed new babies into their families: James and Maureen (not their real names). Both babies were born in Metropolitan Nairobi - the fastest growing urban area in the country. Their births added to the growing urban popluation in Kenya, which will double to 24 million by 2035 and more than triple to 40 million by 2050. The Kenya Urbanization Review projects that by that time, that there will be nearly as many Kenyans living in urban areas as there are Kenyans today. Kenya’s urban transition has begun.

Comprendre les marchés fonciers urbains en Afrique de l’Ouest

Alain Durand-Lasserve's picture
Also available in: English

Les difficultés d’accès à la terre et la multiplication des conflits fonciers sont devenues des préoccupations majeures pour les habitants des villes d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Bien que la volonté politique de s’attaquer aux problèmes fonciers soit de plus en plus affirmée au plus haut niveau, les décideurs publics ne savent cependant pas toujours très bien par où l’action publique doit commencer tant la question des marchés fonciers est à la fois complexe et épineuse. 

La première étape est tout simplement de chercher à comprendre le fonctionnement des marchés fonciers dans ces villes qui sont caractérisées par le pluralisme des droits fonciers.  Les études existantes se limitent cependant le plus souvent au seul marché foncier formel dont le développement et la généralisation sont présentés comme le seul moyen d’assurer la sécurité de la tenure foncière. Or, réduire ainsi l’étude des marchés fonciers ne permet pas de comprendre pourquoi 60 à 80% des habitants des ville vivent dans des quartiers informels où la sécurité de la tenure n’est pas garantie, ni de répondre aux problèmes auxquels sont confrontées les villes de la région : une croissance spatiale incontrôlée, une grande insécurité foncière pour les exploitants agricoles dans les zones périurbaines et l’hinterland rural où dominent encore largement les régimes fonciers coutumiers, l’épuisement des réserves foncières de l’Etat—qui avaient contribué à l’offre de terrains au cours des dernières décennies de croissance urbaine—et l’aggravation des conflits fonciers—source de déstabilisation politique.

Understanding urban land markets in West Africa

Alain Durand-Lasserve's picture
Also available in: Français

The difficulty of acceessing land, and a growing number of land disputes, have become major concerns in West African cities. In spite of political will expressed at the highest level of government, policymakers are often at a loss as to what can be done given the complexity and sensitivity of land market issues.

The first step toward a solution is to understand the functioning of land markets in West African cities, which are characterized by land rights pluralism. Existing studies have tended to limit their focus to formal land markets as the only option for improving land tenure security. Such a restrictive approach does not explain why 60—80 percent of city residents actually live in informal settlements where land tenure is insecure.  Nor can it shed light on the challenges faced by cities in the region: uncontrolled spatial expansion; very weak tenure security of agricultural landholders in peri-urban areas and in the rural hinterland (where customary forms of tenure remain predominant); increasing scarcity of public land reserves that cannot continue to supply land for housing to accompany urban growth as in previous decades; and increased prevalence and frequency of land-related conflicts, which may induce political instability.

Blogger’s Swan Song

Shanta Devarajan's picture
This will be my last post on Africa Can.  Having recently started a new adventure as Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, I will be blogging on that region’s issues in the MENA blog as well as starting a more general blog (tentatively titled “Economics to end poverty”) with some of my fellow bloggers.  It has been a privilege to moderate Africa Can, and I want to thank our readers for the stimulating, lively and frank discussions, as well as for having made this the most popular blog at the Bank.

(Not) On the Move: Road Transport in Tanzania

Waly Wane's picture

Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
Easy access to markets, public services, and jobs is indispensable for citizens to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve progress. In Tanzania, as in most other countries in the region, roads are the predominant mode of transport for people and goods. However, insufficient transportation facilities and limited mobility are an everyday reality:
- In 2010, only 1.8 per cent of Tanzanian households owned a car; significantly less than in Kenya (5.6 per cent in 2008/09) or Uganda (3.2 per cent in 2011).
- Motorbike ownership is also not common – only 2.9 per cent of households on Mainland claimed ownership of this vehicle in 2010. The situation in Zanzibar though was different with one in ten households owning a motorcycle or scooter.
- Affordable public transport remains elusive for many Tanzanians: In 2010, more than 40 per cent of women who recently gave birth at home cited distance and lack of transport as the factors that prevented them from delivering at a health facility.