Published on Let's Talk Development

Two ways to make Africa’s cities more livable, connected and affordable

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Urban population in Africa will double within the next 25 years and reach 1 billion people by 2040, but concentration of people in cities has not been accompanied by economic density.

Typical African cities share three features that constrain urban development and create daily challenges for businesses and residents: they are crowded, disconnected, and therefore costly, according to a new report titled “Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World.”

Compared to Asia and Latin America, Africa’s cities have 40% fewer neighbors to interact with and 20% more fragmentation near the city center. African cities are close to 30% more expensive than cities in countries at similar income levels.

To grow economically, as they are growing in size, Africa’s cities must open their doors to the world. The continent has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get urbanization “right.”

In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez and Lead Urban Economist Somik Lall discuss the main findings of the report, including the top two policy priorities that can help African cities unlock growth potential, add jobs, and improve city competitiveness:


  • Formalizing land markets, clarify property rights, and institute effective urban planning that allows land to be brought together;
  • Making early and coordinated infrastructure investments that allow for interlinkages among housing, infrastructure, commercial, and industrial development.


Africa's Cities: Opening Doors to the World


Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

Former Regional Director, Africa, Sustainable Development Practice Group

Somik Lall

Staff Director, World Bank 2024 World Development Report

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