Drivers of Migration and Urbanization in Africa: Key Trends and Issues

  • Citation: Awumbila, Mariama. “Drivers of Migration and Urbanization in Africa: Key Trends and Issues.” Background Paper prepared for UN Expert Group Meeting on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration, September 2017.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • urbanization
    • migration
    • Africa
    • drivers of migration
    • development

Urbanisation is increasingly being acknowledged as one of the defining issues of the twenty-first century. More than half of the world’s population now live in towns and cities and that figure is projected to rise to 75% by 2050 (United Nations Population Division, 2014), with most of this urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia. In the developing world, Africa’s urban transition is proceeding rapidly, with the accumulated relative growth rate of its cities now among the highest in the world. Although in absolute terms, Asian cities still remain the world’s fastest growing, the global share of African urban dwellers is projected to rise from 11.3 per cent in 2010 to a 20.2 per cent by 2050, with almost two-thirds of its population growth expected to occur in urban areas (UN HABITAT, 2014). Migration is a significant contributor to urban growth and to the urbanization process, as people move in search of social and economic opportunity and from environmental deterioration. However, the capacity of urban towns to plan for and cater for the increasing migrants by providing employment, access to land and basic amenities are limited leading to a largely negative policy position of governments, city authorities, and often host communities, on migration into urban areas.

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