Regional Development and Spatial Inclusion
Every year the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme choose a new sector to study, taking into account the strategic challenges and opportunities Africa will have in the future. This year’s Outlook has a special theme: Regional Development and Spatial Inclusion.
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In the debate on Africa’s structural transformation, the demographic and spatial dimensions have been overlooked. This chapter analyses the challenges and opportunities brought about by the rapid growth of urban and rural populations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. It argues that development strategies must focus not just on economic sectors, but also on people and places. Regional development can promote spatial inclusion and unlock the potential of African economies.
This chapter reviews the effectiveness of various policy actions in promoting regional development and spatial inclusion. The first section looks at actions targeting specific regions and places. The next section reviews policies which have a strong territorial impact; infrastructure and decentralisation emerge as important anchors for inclusive regional development strategies. The last section stresses the difficulties for policy makers to design policies that fully address Africa’s fast-changing demographic and regional realities. Traditional sectoral approaches ignore spatial dynamics as well as complementarities and trade-offs between policies. They are often based on a lack of knowledge on regional economies owing – among other things – to inadequate local statistics.
Adopting a place-based approach will help policy makers articulate sectoral policies more effectively for structural transformation. This chapter proposes a seven-step methodology to crafting development strategies, stressing four main areas of improvement: designing informed policies through better statistics; defining integrated strategic priorities through regional foresight studies; building capacity at multiple levels of government; and mobilising adequate financing for regional economic development at both local and national levels.