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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.

How can Zambia’s growth be re-energized?

Gregory Smith's picture
Shoppers at the newly opened East Park Mall in Lusaka
Shoppers at the newly opened East Park Mall in Lusaka.
​(Photo Credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank)

If you lived in Zambia or have been closely following the news about the country, you would know that Zambia had been growing at a steady pace in the last few years. Riding on the back of higher copper production, foreign direct investment in the manufacturing and mining sectors, government investment in infrastructure, and expanding private sector investment in construction and services, Zambia grew at an average annual rate of 6.4% between 2010 and 2014, which was more than the average overall growth rate of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A simple model to assess the economic impacts of large projects

Kandadji Dam site in December 2012

It’s the classic conundrum that governments typically grapple with. Which projects are most beneficial in the long-term? How do large, expensive projects impact on the debt dynamics and macroeconomic stability? While there is a need for large infrastructure investment in the developing world it is often difficult for governments to determine the most beneficial projects.

The demographic transition and labor markets in Sub-Saharan Africa

David Locke Newhouse's picture

The recent revolutions in the Middle East have brought even more urgency to the perennial challenge of how policies can help create better job opportunities for youth. North Africa, along with Sub-Saharan Africa and South India, has among the world’s highest population growth rates and as one widely quoted study put it, “the Arab Spring could not have occurred without the ideological and numerical push of a huge mass of angry youth.” Neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which still has among the highest birth rates in the world, noticed.

Living on the edge: Saving West Africa’s coastal assets

Ruth Kennedy-Walker's picture

For generations, coastal communities in West Africa have lived off the land and sea, depending on the region’s abundant natural resources for their nutrition, health and economic activity. Coastal habitats such as mangroves and coral reefs, both important breeding grounds for fish, as well as hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, have helped foster thriving cities, trade, commerce and economic development in the region’s coastal zones, the source of 56% of West Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP.)

« Littoral fragile : Relevons les défis de la côte ouest-africaine »

Ruth Kennedy-Walker's picture

Pendant des générations, les communautés côtières d’Afrique de l’Ouest ont vécu de la terre et de la mer, comptant sur l’abondance des ressources naturelles de la région pour leur alimentation, leur santé et leur activité économique. Les habitats côtiers, tels que les mangroves et les récifs de corail, à la fois d’importants lieux de reproduction des poissons et des gisements d’hydrocarbures et de minéraux, ont contribué à faire prospérer les villes, les échanges, le développement économique et commercial dans les zones côtières de la région, où sont produits 56 % du produit intérieur brut (PIB) de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.

Financing Africa’s cities: The local investment challenge

Thierry Paulais's picture
Also available in: Français

The 2009 financial crisis demonstrated how closely local government finances and housing policies are intertwined with the financial systems and the economy as a whole. The ramping up of efforts to combat global warming and the prospects created by the COP 21 preliminary discussions have once again thrust local governments into the spotlight, with their growing responsibilities in the areas of adaptation and mitigation.

Financer les villes d’Afrique : l’enjeu de l’investissement local Villes d’Afrique : changer d’échelle dans les montants d’investissement

Thierry Paulais's picture
Also available in: English
La crise financière de 2009 avait mis en évidence l’imbrication profonde des finances des collectivités territoriales et des politiques de l’habitat avec l’ensemble des systèmes financiers et de l’économie. L’accélération de la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique et les perspectives ouvertes par les débats préparatoires à la COP 21 mettent une nouvelle fois au premier rang les collectivités locales dont les responsabilités sont croissantes, à la fois sur le plan de l’adaptation et sur le plan de l’atténuation.

Changement climatique et infrastructures en Afrique : puisqu’il faut s’adapter, agissons maintenant et intelligemment

Raffaello Cervigni's picture
Also available in: English

Dans moins d’une semaine, les dirigeants de plus de 190 pays se rencontreront à Paris pour parvenir à un nouvel accord visant à éviter un réchauffement de l’atmosphère terrestre supérieur à 2°C par rapport aux niveaux préindustriels.

Plus que jamais, la question de l’adaptation sera au centre des discussions. Accepter de limiter le réchauffement climatique à 2°C revient pour les négociateurs à reconnaître qu’un certain niveau de réchauffement est inévitable. Les pays devront donc s’adapter et des ressources adéquates seront nécessaires pour aider les pays les plus pauvres à mener à bien cette transition.