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Denman Lecture Nov 2017: Urbanisation in Africa – the challenge of building cities that work

Tony is director of the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, and serves on the Steering Group of the International Growth Centre. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Econometric Society. Former positions include Chief Economist at the UK DFID, professor at the London School of Economics, research manager of the Trade Research Group in the World Bank, and advisor to the UK Treasury.

He is a pioneer of New Economic Geography (along with Paul Krugman and Masahisa Fujita) and has major publications in international trade theory and spatial economics. He has co-authored two highly influential books, ‘The Spatial Economy – Cities, Regions and International Trade’, and ‘Multinationals in the World Economy’. Most recently he has co-authored the book ‘Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World’. His publications have been cited almost 50,000 times, making him one of the world’s most cited economists.

Summary

By 2050, Africa’s urban population will increase by 600 million. But so far, this urbanisation has delivered limited economic growth. A key factor might be low capital investment (20% of GDP in Africa compared to 40% in Asia). Of this capital investment, residential investment has been particularly low, due to land tenure issues, inappropriate regulation, failings in capital markets, and low affordability. As an additional factor, urbanisation has come without industrialization. Tony explores the economics behind this and develops ideas for how African cities can escape their development trap, develop scale economies, and increase investment.

 

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