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Theme 2016
Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation

This 15th edition of the African Economic Outlook looks closely at Africa’s distinctive pathways towards urbanisation and at how this is increasingly shifting economic resources towards more productive activities.

Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation

The African continent is urbanising fast. By the mid-2030s, the majority of Africans will live in urban areas. Africa’s urbanisation can allow for structural transformation, if accompanied by productive employment and sufficient public goods. However, diverse urbanisation patterns across African countries show that unplanned urbanisation can hinder their structural transformation. In many African countries, a large portion of the urban labour force remains trapped in low-productivity informal services activities and access to public goods is unequal. The costs of environmental degradation are large and increasing, adding to the economic and social challenges of urbanisation.

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Theme analysis by
country and year

Previous themes


Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation


Regional development and spatial inclusion


Global Value Chains and Africa's Industrialisation


Structural Transformation and Natural Resources

Press release

Africa: economic transformation hinges on unlocking potential of cities, says the African Economic Outlook 2016

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