Africa must connect on global scale for economies to keep up and compete

10 February 2017

To grow their economies in line with their growing size, Africa’s cities must open their doors and connect to the world to ensure that investments in these cities’ infrastructureindustrial and commercial structures keep pace with its concentration of people.

A new World Bank report, ‘Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World,’ said this lack of connection made African cities among the costliest in the world for businesses and households. African cities were 29% more expensive than cities in countries of similar income levels.

Housing costs 55% more than in other regions,” the report stated, noting that, in Dar es SalaamTanzania, for example, 28% of residents live at least three to a room; in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 50% do so; and in LagosNigeria, two out of three people live in slums.

High rates of slum living within urban areas are characteristic of most African countries. Only Zimbabwe and South Africa fall below the non-African average.

Also, city dwellers pay ±35% more for food in Africa than low-income and middle-income countries elsewhere. Urban households in African countries pay 20% to 31% more for goods and services than in similar developing countries.

The report highlights that the key to freeing Africa’s cities from the low-development trap is to set them on a path toward physical and economic density, connecting them for higher efficiency and boosting expectations for the future.

World Bank social, urban, rural and resilience global senior director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquezstressed that what cities did now would determine their shape and efficiency for future decades or even centuries.

The report also highlighted the strengths of and challenges facing South African cities, with a particular focus on Durban.

Durban’s access to amenities was one of its strengths. over two-thirds of households in the coastal city have access to piped water, against only 14% to 17% in Dar es Salaam

Almost 92% of households in Durban’s urban core are connected to the sewerage system, but only 19% in the outskirts of the city and 45% in shanty areas are.

Lastly, the report noted that Durban was less fragmented than other African cities. 

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