The prospects for manufacturing-led growth in Africa’s cities

Many African countries are urbanising rapidly despite limited growth in manufacturing. Although other sectors could spur job creation and development, much like manufacturing, they need active public policy to support urban connectivity and business scale.

Although the growth of cities in Africa has been closely linked to rising incomes across the continent, many countries have rapidly urbanised without the same gains in economic growth and poverty reduction that have been seen elsewhere.

One potential reason is that urbanisation in Africa has not promoted a sustained period of structural transformation: shifting from growth dominated by agriculture and small-scale local services towards growth led by manufacturing and knowledge-intensive industries. This has led some observers to question Africa’s long-term prospects for development.

This growth brief explores the prospects for manufacturing-led growth in Africa’s cities