How can Africa meet those unique challenges? Lessons from demographic, urban and economic transitions in OECD or Asian countries may be too inconsistent with Africa’s circumstances to inform policy response. Similarly, policy prescriptions focusing on specific economic sectors – such as industry or agriculture – are not comprehensive enough. What African countries need are innovative, context-specific, multi-sectoral and place-based development strategies.
Promoting regional development and spatial inclusion should be at the heart of Africa’s development strategies. Efforts to tackle regional inequalities through spatial management, infrastructure development and decentralization have had limited impact. Policy makers must therefore take a fresh look at regional dynamics, such as the fast-changing relations between urban and rural areas. They should focus beyond economic sectors, improve regional statistics and deepen their knowledge of local areas. People and places need to be at the center of development strategies that create productive jobs, accelerate demographic transitions, invest in education and promote intermediary cities to capitalize on urban/rural dynamics. Financial resources must be scaled up to meet the associated long-term investment needs, in particular by better mobilizing domestic resources at local and national levels.