While urbanization is widely viewed as a key engine of development, urban population growth gives rise to both opportunities and challenges. In the near future, as urbanization processes unfold, Africa and Asia will face an unprecedented growth in the number of people residing in their cities. The urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is expected to increase by more than 400 million residents and double within the next 25 years.
Because agglomeration in cities stimulates trade and allows for increased productivity, these major demographic and geographic shifts have the potential to propel economies towards renewed growth and economic development. Yet, in contexts of poor infrastructure provision and weak institutions, cities may end up growing in ways that involve suboptimal land use, poor transport connectivity, dysfunctional labor markets, and harmful environmental impacts.
What can (and should) be done to prepare for and to accompany the unprecedented phenomenon of massive urban population growth and ensure that it occurs in efficient and sustainable ways? Mobilizing lessons from urban economics and economic geography, Harris Selod will shed light on the benefits and costs of urbanization in a developing country context and will discuss the feasibility and efficiency of policies designed to reap the benefits of agglomeration, with a particular emphasis on land and transport issues.