People in Africa's cities benefit from higher socio-economic outcomes and standards of living than the countries in which they are located. Urbanisation is an opportunity for Africa, and governments should maximise its benefits by investing in cities of all sizes.
Millions of people with better jobs and improved access to services
Over 5 000 new cities have emerged in Africa since 1990, empowering millions of people across all socio-economic groups.
Approximately 30% of Africa's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the last 20 years has been due to urbanisation.
Cities generate agglomeration economies that increase the productivity of urban firms and workers.
Cities drive development
Wages, share of skilled jobs and hours worked are higher in cities than in rural areas.
Urban dwellers spend more time in school than their rural counterparts.
Urban dwellers and businesses benefit from more and better access to services and infrastructure.
Cities benefit rural areas
Rural areas that are close to cities perform better than more remote areas.
The development of small and mid-sized cities can benefit surrounding rural areas by bringing infrastructure and services such as markets, modern business services and educational facilities closer.
Country and cross-country data insights
Explore data from more than 4 million individuals and firms across 2 600 cities and 32 African countries and see how urbanisation and city size drive economic performance in Africa.
Africapolis - Visualise urbanisation in Africa
The Africapolis 2023 revision allows users to visualise urban growth over time in 8 500 agglomerations in 54 countries. Since 2015, agglomerations in Africa have added 110 000 000 people and 20 000 square kilometers.
Africapolis is the only comprehensive and standardised geospatial database on cities and urbanisation dynamics in Africa.
Effective urban planning and functional local governments are vital to support and develop cities’ economies.
Improving existing decentralisation programmes, enhancing urban infrastructure investment and providing reliable data are all actions that can ensure that the specific needs of urban areas are addressed.
In this series of interviews, policy makers and experts share their perspectives on urbanisation today and what it will take to make Africa’s cities more inclusive, liveable and sustainable.
Future of Africa’s cities: What the experts say...
This video captures the key messages from individual interviews.
Rapid increase in urban population, but not enough jobs in the formal sectors...
Edlam Yemeru | Chief, Urbanization and Development Section, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
It is key that governments develop sound national urban policies...
Daniel K. B. Inkoom | Professor of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi
This is a new model of urban development; it requires all stakeholders...
Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi | Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments Africa
National decentralisation frameworks have to be ratified...
Edgar Pieterse | Director, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town
Africa will be the continent with the largest urban population...
Stefan Atchia | Manager, Urban Development Division, African Development Bank Group
How is life in West Africa’s cities?
Africa’s cities are youthful. More than 66% of urban dwellers are below the age of 30. We surveyed more than 4 000 young people across 17 countries and 27 cities in West Africa to find out what they like and dislike about their cities and hear from them on how these urban spaces could develop.
See what West African youth feel about the cities they live in...
Africa's Urbanisation Dynamics 2022 provides a new perspective on Africa’s urban economies that is unique in its breadth and level of detail. Based on data from more than 4 million individuals and firms across 2 300 cities in 34 countries, it presents compelling evidence that urbanisation in Africa contributes to better economic outcomes and higher standards of living.