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[Population and urbanization in Africa].

  • Antoine, P
Published Article
La chronique du CEPED
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1995
PMID: 12178216


Urbanization in Africa is increasing rapidly. Between 1950 and 1990 the urban population in Africa increased from 14.5% to 32%. The UN projects that by the year 2025 54.1% of Africans will live in urban areas. Agriculture does not offer enough employment; furthermore, improvement of the situation in rural areas has lead to improved productivity, thus requiring fewer agricultural workers. In return, consumers in cities assure new markets in rural areas and favor a return from farming for income towards sustenance farming. This is most likely to occur in highly urbanized countries where the urban growth rate is weak. 50% of the population of Tunisia lives in urban areas and its urban growth rate is only 3%/year. Burkina-Faso and Niger have high urban growth rates (8% and 7%, respectively). Countries in eastern and central Africa tend to have weak urbanization and a low urban growth rate. Those that border the Mediterranean have high urbanization and their annual urban growth rate is slowing down (e.g., Libya, 80% and 5%, respectively). 29% of the African population in 1990 lived in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. The most populated city in all of Africa is Cairo (8.6 million). The only sub-Saharan city with more than 5 million people is Lagos (7.7 million population). African cities desperately need affordable, decent housing. In Dakar, an economic crisis has adversely affected modern businesses that depend on the urban economy. The modern sector is no longer a market for the young. The informal sector cannot absorb unemployed workers. Senegal offers few opportunities for a return to agriculture. Structural adjustment programs have affected demographic patterns and behavior and family patterns. Poverty is growing. Professional positions are becoming more precarious. Means of interdependence will no longer serve as a shock absorber of the effects of the economic crisis.

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