Urbanization in Africa: Trends, Promises, and Challenges
June 1-2, 2015Accra, Ghana

The share of Africans living in urban areas is projected to grow from 36 percent in 2010 to 50 percent by 2030. This conference will bring some of the most renowned thinkers and leaders on Africa’s urbanization to Accra.

The World Bank and the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) are jointly hosting a conference titled Urbanization in Africa: Trends, Promises and Challenges from June 1 to 2, 2015 in Accra, Ghana.

The share of Africans living in urban areas is projected to grow from 36 percent in 2010 to 50 percent by 2030. The continent’s urbanization rate, the highest in the world, can lead to economic growth, transformation, and poverty reduction. Alternatively, it can lead to increased inequality, urban poverty, and the proliferation of slums. The laws, policies, and actions needed to reap positive dividends from Africa’s urbanization are therefore critical in the continent’s transformation.

This conference will bring some of the most renowned thinkers and leaders on Africa’s urbanization to Accra. Sir Paul Collier (Oxford University) and Danny Leipziger (former Vice President, World Bank) will highlight the broad trends and challenges related to rapid urbanization. Additional speakers will present African case studies from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, and around the continent. The conference will also reveal insights from cutting-edge research done at the World Bank and leading universities, pointing to lessons learned and areas where further investigation is necessary to meet the policy challenges of ensuring sustainable and inclusive urban growth.

The two-day conference will include panel presentations by academics, urbanization experts, and policy makers, as well as question and answer sessions. Sir Collier will deliver the keynote address.


Last Updated: May 29, 2015

  • Sylvanus Kofi Adzornu

    Mr Sylvanus Kofi Adzornu is Planner with over 19 years’ experience in Planning Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation. Now Head of Urban Development Unit of Ministry of Local Government in charge of Ministry Urban Policy. Project and programmes. Coordinated the Ghana Urbanization Review Study Phase I &II in Collaboration with World Bank. He is also the National Coordinator for Ghana Urban Pilot Project (GUMPP) project design to implement Ghana's Urban Policy on pilot bases in four cities namely Kumasi, Sekondi -Takoradi, Tamale and Ho.He is also by virtue of His position as the Head Urban Unit of the Ministry Coordinating the preparatory works toward Ghana Participation in The Third Habitat Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in 2016. He is an Alumnus of the Planning Department of KNUST and HIS.
  • Julia Bird

    Post-Doctoral Researcher, The University of Oxford
    Julia Bird is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Economics at the University of Oxford, where she is working on urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa on a joint project with researchers from LSE. Her research focuses on documenting changing patterns of urbanisation and understanding how government, firms and people have interacted to create the urban areas we see today. In particular, she has researched how transport links influence the spatial patterns of economic activity.
  • Dean Cira

    Program Leader for Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, The World Bank
    Dean is currently Program Leader for Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia at the World Bank where he is responsible for overseeing the work of seven global practices including urban-rural-social-resilience, transport, energy, environment, agriculture, water and trade and competitiveness. He is also engaged in leading urban sector work directly in several East African countries, including Kenya and Uganda. Prior to moving to Kenya in 2012, Dean led the Bank’s urban, water and resilience work in Vietnam developing the Vietnam Urban Forum, leading analytical work and policy dialogue and national and subnational levels and grew the operational program to over $2.0 billion in investment lending. While in the East Asia Region Dean also led the Bank’s infrastructure reconstruction program in Aceh, Indonesia and developed the East Asia Disaster Risk Management Practice. Prior to his work in East Asia, Dean worked in the Latin America Region leading urban work in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. He worked previously for the United States government, and in the private sector as a developer of affordable housing and as an advisor to local government on housing and local economic development policy.
  • Sir Paul Collier

    Professor of Economics and Public Policy, The Blavatnik School of Government; Professorial Fellow, St Antony’s College; Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford
    Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government; a Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College; and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford. From 1998–2003 he took Public Service leave during which he was Director of the Research Development Department of the World Bank. Paul is currently adviser to the Strategy and Policy Department of the IMF, to the Africa Region, World Bank and to DfID. His research covers the causes and consequences of civil war; the effects of aid and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural-resources rich societies. In 2014, Paul received a knighthood for services to promoting research and policy change in Africa.
  • Souleymane Coulibaly

    Lead Economist, The World Bank
    Souleymane Coulibaly, from Cote d'Ivoire, holds a double Ph.D. degree in International Trade and Economic Geography from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne (France) and the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). His publications and ongoing research deal with the impact of geography on firms’ location, trade flows and regional integration. He was a co-author of 2009 World Development Report "Reshaping Economic Geography", contributed to the 2005 Global Economic Prospect report on regionalism, and recently published the book “Eurasian Cities: New Realities along the Silk Road” in the ECA regional studies series. He is currently the World Bank Lead Economist for Central Africa. Before joining the World Bank as a Young Professional in September 2006, he used to be lecturer at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Statistiques et d’Economie Appliquée (ENSEA) of Abidjan, teaching assistant at the University of Lausanne, and economist at the Economic and International Relations department of NESTLE in Vevey, Switzerland.
  • Harold Coulombe

    Freelance Consultant
    Harold Coulombe has been an international freelance consultant for over twenty years, mainly on World Bank projects, but also with other UN organisations (UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and DESA). His most recent mandates have been focusing on different applications of the census-based poverty map methodology in collaboration with the Research Department and the Education Network both at the World Bank. Prior to his current status, he spent five years as a researcher at the University of Warwick where he also obtained his Ph.D. in economics.
  • Klaus Deininger

    Lead Economist, The World Bank
    Klaus Deininger is a Lead Economist in the rural development group of the Development Economics Group. His areas of research focus on income and asset inequality and its relationship to poverty reduction and growth; access to land, land markets and land reform and their impact on household welfare and agricultural productivity; land tenure and its impact on investment, including environmental sustainability; and capacity building (including the use of quantitative and qualitative methods) for policy analysis and evaluation, mainly in the Africa, Central America, and East Asia Regions. He is a German national with a Ph.D. in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota, an MA in Agricultural Economics from the University of Berlin, and an MA in theology from the University of Bonn.
  • Dr. Issa Faye

    Manager of the Research Division, African Development Bank
    Dr. Issa Faye is a Senegalese citizen. He is currently the Manager of the Research Division at the African Development Bank (AfDB). Prior to joining the AfDB, he worked at the World Bank (Research Department and the Rural Development Network of the Africa Region) in Washington DC, as an economist. Prior to that, he lived and worked in Clermont-Ferrand (France) where he was lecturer in Economics at University of Auvergne /CERDI and as a researcher for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Since joining AfDB, most of his operational work is focused on financial institutions, private sector development, and economic and financial reforms. As a Principal Research Economist, he also supported private sector operations as a member of the Additionality and Development Outcomes Assessment team. He holds Ph.D. in Economics from University of Auvergne-CERDI (France) and his areas of research and publications include Financial Sector Development and Reforms, Financial Inclusion, Private Sector Development, Housing Dynamics, Regional Integration, and Inclusive Growth issues.
  • Simon Franklin

    Post-Doctoral Researcher, London School of Economics
    Vernon Henderson is a Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics since September 2013, having previously been Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University, USA. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Urban Economics and the Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, and serves on a number of editorial boards. He is the President of the Urban Economics Association. His research focuses on urbanization in developing countries. He has on-going work in Indonesia and China, covering topics to do with urbanization but also land markets, infrastructure investment, corruption, and disaster aid delivery. He has recent work on urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on migration and climate change. His work is published in journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Regional Science and the Rand Journal of Economics.
  • Patricia Jones

    Project Manager and Researcher, Urbanisation in Developing Economies Project
    Patricia “Tracy” Jones is Project Manager and Researcher for the Urbanisation in Developing Economies Project. Her research focuses mainly on economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is particularly interested in the interplay between history, institutions, and long-run growth.Tracy has worked both inside academia (most recently at Vassar College in the US) and on development projects in Africa. She has publications in the Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, as well as other journals. Tracy received her DPhil in Economics from Oxford University. She also holds a MSc (Economic History) from the London School of Economics, a MSc (Development Economics) from Oxford University and a BA (Economics & Political Science) from Emory University.
  • Michael Koelle

    DPhil student, Department of Economics, The University of Oxford
    Michael is a DPhil student in the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford, and affiliated with the Centre for the Study of African Economies. Before coming to Oxford for graduate studies, he studied Economics at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and the Catholic University of Santiago de Chile. He is interested in the dynamics of urban labour markets in Africa and Latin America. In particular, he looks at how individuals make occupational choices over time within their local labour markets, and how gold mining affects urbanisation patterns.
  • Danny Leipziger

    Professor of International Business, George Washington University, and Managing Director, The Growth Dialogue
    Danny Leipziger is Professor of International Business and International Affairs, George Washington University, and Managing Director, the Growth Dialogue. He is former Vice President of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (2004–09) at the World Bank. Over the course of his 28-year career at the World Bank, he has held management positions in the East Asia Region and the Latin America and Caribbean Region as well as in the World Bank Institute. Prior to joining the Bank, Dr. Leipziger served in senior positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. He also has been a Vice Chair of the independent Commission on Growth and Development (2006-2010). He has published widely in the areas of development economics and finance, industrial policy, and banking, including books on Korea, Chile, and East Asia and recent volumes Globalization and Growth (with Michael Spence), Stuck in the Middle (with Antonio Estache) and Ascent after Decline: Regrowing Global Economies after the Great Recession (with Otaviano Canuto). He has published more than 40 articles in refereed journals on economic development and finance. Recent papers have dealt with Urbanization in Africa, Real Estate Bubbles in Korea, Potential Growth Rates of Korea, and Growth Strategies. He has written for Project Syndicate, is a frequent contributor to the Financial Times, and is often called upon by the international media as a commentator on global economic issues. He is on the Board of the Korea Economic Institute.
  • Jonas Parby

    Jonas Ingemann Parby is an Urban Specialist in the Africa Urban Development and DRM Unit at the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice at the World Bank, based in Washington DC. Jonas Ingemann Parby was the Task Team Leader for the Ghana Urbanization Review. Jonas has 10 years’ experience on urban development across Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America. He holds degrees in International Development and Public Administration from University of Roskilde, Denmark. His area of expertise covers local governance, decentralization, urban development, municipal finance, and housing.Before joining the World Bank Group, he served as Adviser for DANIDA (Danish Agency for Development Assistance) and worked in international and local NGOs.
  • Harris Selod

    Senior Economist, The World Bank
    Harris Selod is a Senior Economist with the Development Research Group of the World Bank. His current research focuses on urban development, including issues related to transport and land use, as well as land tenure, land markets and the political economy of the land sector in developing countries, with a specific interest in West Africa. His publications cover a variety of topics in urban and public economics including theories of squatting and residential informality, the political economy of transport infrastructure, the effects of residential segregation on schooling and unemployment, or the impact of land rights formalization and place-based policies. He has been chair of the World Bank’s Land Policy and Administration Thematic Group (2011-2013) and is currently leading a World Bank research program on transport. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2007, he was an associate professor at the Paris School of Economics and a researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne and graduated from the Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique (ENSAE).
  • Adam Storeygard

    Assistant Professor of Economics, Tufts University
    Adam Storeygard is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Tufts University specializing in urban and development economics, with particular interests in urbanization, transportation, and the economic geography of sub-Saharan Africa. His work has appeared in journals including the American Economic Review, Nature, and the Journal of Development Economics.
  • Prof. Ivan Turok

    Executive Director of the Economic Performance and Development Programme, Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa
    Professor Ivan Turok is an urban and regional economist/planner and Executive Director of the Economic Performance and Development programme at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. He is Editor-in-Chief of the international journal ‘Regional Studies’ and Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow. He is also the Chair of the new City Planning Commission for Durban. Ivan is a regular adviser to the United Nations, OECD, African Development Bank and several national governments. He is a member of the Expert Panel set up by the SA Government to prepare an Integrated Urban Development Framework for the country. He is the author of over 100 academic publications, journal articles, book chapters and books. His research covers various aspects of city and regional development, labour markets, resilience, urban transformation and national urban policies.
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