ON the occasion of the Africities 2022 Summit, taking place from May 17 to 21, in Kisumu, Kenya, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Cities Alliance released earlier this week in Nairobi, a major report entitled Dynamics of Secondary Cities in Africa: Urbanisation, Migration and Development, which provides a comprehensive overview, enriched with case studies, on intermediary cities of the continent.
‘Intermediary cities are the backbone of the continent. They absorb most of urban population growth in Africa. Yet they face a significant investment gap and have very little financial resources of their own,’ said Nnenna Nwabufo, the African Development Bank’s Managing Director for East Africa.
Intermediary cities are home to about 15 percent of Africa’s population. But their growth is accelerating. By 2040, two-thirds of the people who move to urban areas will be moving to intermediary cities. Consequently investment needs are growing. The challenge is now to guarantee basic social services and to turn these cities into economic growth hubs to rebalance the territories.
‘The rural exodus towards the hypertrophied national capitals is generating enormous challenges. It is crucial to redirect part of these flows to intermediary cities, in order to reduce the pressure on the capitals,’ says Babati Mokgheti, in charge of Urban Development at the African Development Bank. ‘By investing in medium-sized cities, we create a territorial network that strengthens integration between metropolises and the countryside,’ he added.
Over the past decade, the African Development Bank’s annual investments in urban areas have more than tripled. Intermediary cities have been recipients of these investments. In Senegal, for example, the ‘Promovilles’ programme initiated in 2017, supports thirteen intermediary-sized cities through the strengthening of transport networks and the consolidation of the technical capacities of municipalities.
Approved by the African Development Bank in 2019, the guidelines for supporting sub-national financial actors should help to change the legal and regulatory frameworks of member states by promoting good decentralization practices. For local actors, these guidelines have made it possible to access a new range of financing tools and direct support from the Bank. In Morocco, for example, the Municipal Equipment Fund was able to benefit directly from a line of credit from the Bank, these funds were transferred to the municipalities.
Finally, the new Urban and Municipal Development Fund should approximate the African Development Bank and the municipal actors. The objective is to support them in developing coherent urban strategies. The ‘City Programme’ launched by the Urban and Municipal Development Fund supports municipalities in the long term, enabling them to carry out a complete diagnosis of their situation, identify strategic investments and, above all, assist them in financing their projects.
The city of Kisumu, which is hosting the Africities conference, is currently joining the ‘City Programme’ which includes intermediary cities such as Bizerte in Tunisia and Dodoma in Tanzania. ‘Beyond the support provided to structure urban projects, the “City Programme” will gradually build a network for the exchange of best practices between municipalities sharing the same vision,’ says Marcus Mayr, Coordinator of the Urban and Municipal Development Fund at the African Development Bank.
The African Development Bank also co-led another report with the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on the influence of large African cities. Published on April 26, the report is entitled: ‘Dynamics of Urbanization in Africa: The Economic Influence of African Cities’.
To access the publication: “Dynamics of Secondary Cities in Africa: Urbanization, Migration and Development” (PDF link to full version)