The Annual Bank Conference on Africa: Managing the Challenges and Opportunities of Urbanization in Africa
June 13-14, 2016Oxford University, Oxford (UK)

The ABCA conference is the World Bank’s premier platform for scholars from all over the world to gather and discuss ways to promote economic growth and reduce poverty for people across Sub-Saharan Africa. It is held each year with a different academic partner and thematic focus. At each edition, research papers selected by a panel from hundreds of submissions are presented for discussion during a two-day event that includes keynote presentations, roundtables, and seminars.

The third Annual Bank Conference on Africa (ABCA) will bring together scholars and development experts to explore various topics pertinent to the drives and consequences of urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa. The conference is organized jointly by the World Bank Africa Region and the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, in association with the Blavatnik School of Government and the Department of Economics at Oxford, the London School of Economics, and the International Growth Centre.... The conference will also feature selected research papers which will be presented for discussion during a two-day event that includes keynote presentations, roundtables and seminars.

The conference will include a Keynote Address by Professor Edward Glaeser (Professor of Economics at Harvard University), and opening remarks by Makhtar Diop (World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region), as well as invited contributions by Paul Collier (Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College), Tony Venables (Oxford University), and other senior scholars.

For more information about the conference, contact

Download the agenda

8:30  – 9:00 AM Registration and Breakfast

9:00  – 10:30 AM Opening Session

  • Room: Lecture Theatre 1 
  • Chair: Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa, World Bank 
  • Introductory remarks: Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, World Bank
  • Keynote speaker: Edward Glaeser, Professor of Economics at Harvard University

10:30 – 11:00 AM Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:30 PM Parallel Sessions A

  • A1. Housing Market
    Room: Seminar room 2 
    Chair: Markus Goldstein, World Bank
    • Housing Markets across Kenyan cities: A renting majority (Kathryn Owens, Sumila Gulyani, Andreas Rizvi)
    • Rebuilding the Social Compact: Urban Service Delivery and Property Taxes in Pakistan (Adnan Khan, Asim Khwaja, Benjamin Olken, Mahvish Shaukat)
    • Housing Finance and Inclusive Growth in Africa: Benchmarking, Determinants and Effects (Christian-Lambert Nguena, Fulbert Tchana, Albert G. Zeufack)
  • A2. Infrastructure and Services
    Room: Seminar room 3
    Chair: David K Evans, World Bank

12:30 – 2:00 PM Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 PM Invited Panel: Recent Research Directions and findings on Urbanization in Africa

  • Room: Lecture Theatre 1 
    Chair:  Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, World Bank
    • Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College. “Transforming Dar es Salaam into a City that Works”
    • Vernon Henderson, School Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics. “Building the City: sunk capital and sequencing”
    • Anthony J Venables, BP Professor of Economics Department of Economics, University of Oxford. The urban land market:  A computable equilibrium model applied to Kampala City

3:30 – 4:00 PM Coffee Break

4:00 – 5:30 PM Parallel Sessions B

  • B1. Urbanization, Localization, and Slums
    Room: Seminar room 2
    Chair: Somik V. Lall, World Bank          
  • B2. Labor Market, Employment, and Economic Activities
    Room: Seminar room 3 
    Chair: Vernon Henderson, London School of Economics
    • The Urban Wage Premium in Africa: Is It Real? (Louise Bernard, Patricia Jones, Olivia D'Aoust)
    • Labor Markets in Urban Ethiopia: Profile, Trends and Constraints (Ruth Hill, Carolina Mejía-Mantilla)
    • Urbanization - Blessing or Curse for Women's Opportunities in Sub-Saharan African Job Markets? (Christine Dieterich, Anni Huang, Alun Thomas)

Download the agenda

8:30 – 9:00 AM Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30 AM Parallel Sessions C

  • C1. Migration
    Room: Seminar room 2 
    Chair: Moussa P. Blimpo, World Bank
    • The dynamics of villages, towns and cities in sub-Saharan Africa:  The case of Mali (Brian Blankespoor, Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, Harris Selod, Gilles Spielvogel)
    • Does Crime Affect Labour Migration in South Africa? (Godfrey Mahofa, Asha Sundaram, Lawrence Edwards)
  • C2. Spatial Localization, Natural Resources, and Colonial Legacies
    Room: Seminar room 3 
    Chair:  Muthoni Ngatia, World Bank
    • Alternatives to African Commodity-based Urbanisation: The Case of China in Angola (Allan Cain)
    • Fragmentation of African Footprints - Do colonial planning legacies persist? (Neeraj Baruah, Vernon Henderson)
    • Urbanisation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Jan David Bakker, Christopher Parsons, Ferdinand Rauch)

10:30 – 11:00 AM Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:30 PM Parallel Sessions D

  • D1. Urban Planning and Evolution
    Room: Seminar room 2 
    Chair: David K Evans, World Bank
    • The fabric of African cities: How to think about density and land use (Vernon Henderson, Dzhamilya Nigmatulina)
    • Property Rights and the Built Environment (Paul Collier, Patricia Jones)
    • Diversified Urbanization: The Case of Côte d'Ivoire (Souleymane Coulibaly)
  • D2. Urban-rural Socio-economic Disparities
    Room: Seminar room 3 
    Chair: Richard Manning, BSG, Oxford University
    • Economic (De)concentration and Trade: The Spatial Effects of Regional Market Integration in East Africa (Andreas Eberhard-Ruiz)
    • Ethnic Cooperation and Conflict in Kenya (Neil Ferguson, Nathan Fiala, Martin Leroch)
    • Urbanization and Vulnerability in Africa: Evidence from Farm Households in Peri-urban Ethiopia (Tsega G. Mezgebo)

12:30 – 2:00 PM Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 PM Parallel Sessions E

3:30 – 3:45 PM Coffee Break

3:45 – 5:15 PM Invited Panel: Perspectives from Policy Makers

  • Room: Lecture Theatre 1 
    Chair:   Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College.
    • Dr. Crispian Olver, CEO, Turnaround Program, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and former Chief Director, Reconstruction and Redevelopment Program, South African Presidency
    • Ms.  Aida Munano , Principal Secretary for urban development , Kenya
    • Ms. Jennifer Musisi , ED Of Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda
    • Prof. Mthuli NCUBE, Professor of Public Policy at The Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
    • Ms. Rahmatouca Sow, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Dakar, Senegal

5:15 – 5:30 PM Closing remarks and wrap up

Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa, World Bank

Submitted papers with a focus on Africa are now welcome on any of the following topics:

  • analysis of the dynamics of urbanization in Sub-Saharan African countries
  • the impacts of urbanization on: economic growth and poverty reduction; trade and foreign investment; public service delivery; environment and natural resources
  • the impacts of government policies on urbanization
  • the political economy of urbanization
  • data and measurement issues pertinent to urbanization

As well as papers that examine the following in the context of urbanization:

  • economic growth, conflict, structural transformation, agriculture, education, health, labor, safety nets, or gender

Full papers should be submitted in pdf format March 13, 2016. Submissions should be e-mailed to, and will be considered by a program committee including Markus Goldstein (World Bank), Tony Venables (Oxford University), Vernon Henderson (LSE), Somik V. Lall (World Bank), and Moussa P. Blimpo (World Bank), Decisions will be made by March 31. Limited funds to support travel for successful African presenters may be available.

  • Date: June 13-14, 2016
  • Opening Session: June 13, 2016 at 4am EST
  • Location: Oxford University, Oxford (UK)