Despite the recent slowdown of the global economy and the weakening of Africa’s economic performance with the attendant implications for inclusion and sustainability, the long term growth outlook for Africa remains promising. The region’s long-term fundamentals remain strong as the pace of growth stands to benefit from a demographic dividend and an industrialization and structural transformation agenda. But its prospects will be profoundly shaped by the way the rapid urban transition is managed. The region is the fastest urbanizing region after Asia, and will be predominantly urban in less than 20 years. Urbanization is thus a defining trend for Africa.
History and experience show that urbanization and industrialization are closely associated in a mutually beneficial manner—but not in Africa. African countries must leverage the force of urbanization to drive and enable industrial development, reestablishing the link between urban growth and industrial growth. The 2017 Economic Report on Africa thus examines how to harness the opportunities from rapid urbanization to speed industrialization and accelerate structural transformation.
The report identifies and analyzes the drivers, enablers and policy levers for strengthening linkages between industrialization and urbanization. It shows that industrialization requires better functioning cities and systems of cities, which in turn require better performing industrialization processes. It stresses that African countries, under the right policy frameworks anchored in national development planning, can leverage the momentum of urbanization to accelerate industrialization for a more prosperous and equitable future.