Improving living conditions and businesses key to Africa’s economic growth

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The World Bank (WB) says improving the living conditions of people and businesses in the cities of African countries is key to economic growth.

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This is contained in a report released here Thursday by the bank titled “Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World”.

The report notes that Africa’s cities are growing in population and as such have a critical role to play in the economic growth of their respective countries.

Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice-President for Africa, says: “Improving the economic and social dividends from urbanization will be critical as better developed cities could transform Africa’s economies.”

Africa’s urban population, which is estimated at 472 million, is expected to grow by 187 million people by 2025.

The continent, the report notes, is urbanizing at lower incomes than other developing regions with similar urbanization levels, and further emphasizes that investments in African cities’ infrastructure, industrial and commercial structures have not kept pace with concentration of people.

The key to freeing Africa’s cities from their low-development trap, the report observes, “is to formalize land markets, clarify property rights and institute effective urban planning that allows land to be brought together’’.

The next is to make early and coordinated infrastructure investments that allow for inter-linkages among housing, infrastructure, commercial and industrial development.”

Somik Lall, Lead Urban Economist at the World Bank and author of the report, said: “From an investment standpoint, Africa’s leaders and policy makers need to focus on early, coordinated infrastructure investments. Without this, they will remain local cities, closed to regional and global markets, trapped into producing only locally traded goods and services and limited in their economic expansion.’’

He said African cities must create an internationally competitive tradable sector to stay open for business.

‘’For this to happen, city leaders must urgently have a strong and new development path for Africa.” Enditem

Source: Francis Kobena Tandoh

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