Urbanization Reviews


The growth of cities is driven largely by the economic prosperity that they help create. But today cities are growing at unprecedented and challenging speeds.

A series of prototypes have been piloted under the Urbanization Reviews, which seek to build a body of knowledge on urbanization challenges and public policy implications in a variety of country settings. Pilots in Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam have already generated considerable traction with counterparts in national planning agencies and line ministries.

Regional studies have also been developed to help cities manage urbanization and support sustainable, inclusive growth. 

Last Updated: Jun 22,2018

Country-specific Urbanization Reviews

Leveraging Urbanization to Promote a New Growth Model While Reducing Territorial Disparities in Morocco : Urban and Regional Development Policy Note (2019)

Today 60 percent of Moroccans reside in urban areas, as opposed to 35 percent in 1970. By 2050, nearly three-quarters of the country’s population will be living in cities. Along with the concentration of people, urbanization will lead to the increasing concentration of economic activities in cities, which today are estimated to account for about 75 percent of the country’s GDP and 70 percent of investments at the national level.


Time to ACT: Realizing Indonesia's Urban Potential (2019)

Over half of Indonesia’s population lives in urban areas, and 1 in 5 urban residents live in slums. Indonesia’s future depends on the quality of its urbanization. To succeed, Indonesia must ACT now – Augment infrastructure and basic services; Connect people to opportunities and services; and Target people and places left behind.


Productive and Inclusive Cities for an Emerging Democratic Republic of Congo (2018)

The Democratic Republic of Congo Urbanization Review proposes policy options based on a set of three instruments knows as the three “I”s – Institutions, Infrastructure, and Interventions – to help each region respond to its specific needs while reaping the benefits of economic agglomeration.


Central America Urbanization Review : Making Cities Work for Central America (2017)

Central America is undergoing an important transition. Urban populations are increasing at accelerated speeds, bringing pressing challenges for development, as well as opportunities to boost sustained, inclusive and resilient growth. Today, 59 percent of the region’s population lives in urban areas, but it is expected that 7 out of 10 people will live in cities within the next generation. At current rates of urbanization, Central America’s urban population will double in size by 2050, welcoming over 25 million new urban dwellers calling for better infrastructure, higher coverage and quality of urban services and greater employment opportunities.


Haitian Cities: Actions for Today with an Eye on Tomorrow (2017)

To better understand the factors that constrain the sustainable and inclusive development of Haitian cities, this report examines Haiti's urbanization challenges across three dimensions of urban development: planning, connecting, and financing.


Rethinking Urbanization in Rwanda: From Demographic Transition to Economic Transformation (2017)

The 11th edition of the World Bank’s Rwanda Economic Update analyzes the trends and forms of Rwanda’s rapid pace of urbanization to examine its contribution to economic development.


Philippines Urbanization Review: Fostering Competitive, Sustainable and Inclusive Cities (2017)

In this report, the World Bank and the government of the Philippines analyze three challenges that need to be addressed if the country is to reap the benefits of urbanization. 


From Oil to Cities: Nigeria’s Next Transformation (Nigeria Urbanization Review) (2016)

This report serves the critical and timely purpose of focusing attention on the challenges and opportunities of urbanization in Nigeria. The executive summary at the front summarizes the key trends of Nigeria’s urbanization and sets out a framework to structure core urban challenges in view of underlying causes.


Kenya Urbanization Review (2016)

Kenya Urbanization Review takes a deep look at Kenya’s urbanization process. It provides initial policy options in several key areas including housing and basic services, land use and transport, planning, subnational finance, and local economic development.


Malawi Urbanization Review (2016)

Malawi Urbanization Review aims to provide fresh perspectives on urbanization in Malawi, by analyzing the current and potential contribution of urbanization to long-term national development and the current institutional and financial capacity of local governments to manage the process.


Côte d’Ivoire Urbanization Review (2015)

Well-managed urbanization can accelerate Côte d’Ivoire’s ascendance to middle incomes. Drawing on the findings of the World Development Report 2009 applied to the Ivorian context, the authors identify three types of cities in the country: global connector cities, regional connector cities, and domestic connector cities.


Ethiopia Urbanization Review: Urban Institutions for a Middle-Income Ethiopia (2015)

The urban population in Ethiopia is increasing rapidly. The central challenge for the Ethiopian government is to make sure that cities are attractive places in which to work and live, while fostering smart urbanization. The government has already taken steps to make evidence-based, informed decisions for well-managed urban growth, and this report aims to contribute to those efforts.


Leveraging Urbanization in South Asia (2015)

Urbanization provides South Asian countries with the potential to transform their economies to join the ranks of richer nations in both prosperity and livability, but a new World Bank report finds the region, while making strides, has struggled to make the most of the opportunity.


Rise of the Anatolian Tigers: Turkey Urbanization Review (2015)

Distinguishing Turkey from many other developing countries has been the pace, scale, and geographical diversity of its spatial and economic transformation. Fast-growing secondary cities bring added challenges that define Turkey’s second-generation urban agenda. New and differentiated service standards will need to be established across both dense urban built-up areas and small villages and rural settlements within the newly-expanded metropolitan municipality administrative area.


Rising Through Cities in Ghana (2015)

Rapid urbanization in Ghana over the past three decades has coincided with rapid GDP growth. This has helped to create jobs, increase human capital, decrease poverty, and expand opportunities and improve living conditions for millions of Ghanaians. Ghana’s urban transformation has been momentous, but it is not unique: a similar process has characterized other countries at similar levels of development. Ghana’s key challenge now is to ensure that urbanization continues to complement growth through improvements in productivity and inclusion, rather than detracting from these goals.


China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Urbanization (2014)    

Prepared jointly by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, this report proposes a new model of urbanization that will help China prepare for rapid expansion, with 70 percent of the population – some one billion – expected to be living in cities by 2030. Six priority areas for reform are identified, including land management and institutions; the hukou household-registration system, urban finances, urban planning and design, managing environmental pressures, and local governance. 


Harnessing Urbanization to End Poverty and Boost Prosperity in Africa (2013)

The World Bank Group's (WBGs) support will focus on three key areas: metropolitan areas and large cities; secondary and tertiary cities; and informal settlements. This will include both multi-sectoral investment programs that integrate a basket of services (for example, upgrading of electricity, water, sanitation, roads, drains in unplanned settlements); and sector specific projects (for example, in urban water, solid waste, and transport) to improve the effectiveness of service delivery.


India: urbanization Beyond Municipal Boundaries (2013)

This review looks at the pace and patterns of India's urbanization, providing a 100-year perspective on demographic shifts and a 20-year perspective on the spatial distribution of jobs across India's portfolio. It follows an earlier India Urbanization Review that focused on identifying options for accomodating India's rapid urban expansion, with the goal of nurturing metropolitan economies and connecting per-urban areas and included case studies.


Planning, Connecting, and Financing Cities – Now: What City Leaders Need to Know (2013)

Developing countries are urbanizing fast. To meet the challenges that creates, city leaders must move quickly to plan, connect, and finance resilient and sustainable growth. This report provides a framework for urban growth planning and finance, backed by case studies, to help leaders identify the impediments to urbanization and find the right combinations of policy options that would work politically, technically, and fiscally for their cities and countries.


Colombia: Amplifying the Gains from the Urban Transition (2012)

This review examines how Colombia can amplify the gains from urbanization by enhancing coordination, deepening economic connections, and fostering efficiency and innovation in financing. 


Indonesia: The Rise of Metropolitan Regions (2012)

This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the country’s spatial patterns of urbanization and economic development and identifies key issues, constraints and opportunities for promoting faster and more inclusive growth.


Planning for Uganda's Urbanization (2012)

Uganda has started its journey into urbanization and economic development. This report outlines the policy priorities to harness economic and social aims from urbanization.


Korea Urbanization Review (2011)

To extract lessons learned, the Korea Urbanization Review examines how, through coordinated planning and connecting policies, Korea successfully managed its journey from incipient to advanced urbanization. (Also see slides on housing policy).


Sri Lanka: Connecting People to Prosperity (2011)

This report provides new insights into geographic transformations in Sri Lanka and identifies public policy priorities for connecting people in economically lagging areas to places that are prospering. 


Vietnam Urbanization Review (2011)

This report is dedicated to understanding the key dimensions and aspects of Vietnam’s urbanization process to identifying trends, opportunities, challenges and core policy priorities. (Also see a short presentation and local online news coverage).

City-specific Urbanization Reviews

Guinea Urban Sector Review – Planning, Connecting and Financing English, French  (2019)

This study looks into the challenges and opportunities posed by urbanization in Guinea, reviewing briefly the trends at the national level but focusing on the urban area of Conakry. The main reasons for focusing on the urban area of Conakry are the following. While secondary cities in Guinea are growing economically and in population, Conakry already represents close to 50 percent of the urban population and its demographic growth outpaces that of other urban areas.


Bamako Urban Sector Review – Engine of Growth & Service Delivery English, French  (2018)

This study focuses on Bamako, the capital of Mali, that dominates the country's urban landscape. A central premise of policy-making in cities is that the flexibility, practicality, and focus of local governments make them ideal players to understand and respond to the needs of their citizens. Indeed, cities mostly aim their problem-solving at local conditions. In Mali, the economic importance of the capital city cannot be understated – it is the nerve center of the national economy.


Freetown Urban Sector Review – Options for Growth and Resilience (2018)

Cities are where economic development really happens and where the risks from natural hazards are growing. Urbanization in Sierra Leone is occurring at USD 410/per capita, at a far lower level than other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa at similar urbanization levels. This study focuses on Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, that dominates the country's urban landscape.