Africa Economic Outlook: Migration Trends in Africa, an Investment Opportunity


In Africa, rural-urban migration is a common practice which results in over population in urban centers and mounting pressure on social amenities. Increasing trends of rural-urban migration is creating slums in cities. Previously, such migration trends symbolized economic transformation and improvement for cities and countries – as there was a large human resource available in cities for the many employment and economic opportunities; but now, Africa’s migration refers to no transformation but just a lifestyle.

Report conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),  African Development Bank (AfDB), and the UN’s Development Programme (UNDP) on African’s economy has projected that Africa will have to convert urban areas into a catalyst for developmental change, backed by functional policy and frameworks.

On this study and respective report (African Economic Outlook), Director of the OECD’s development centre – Mario Pezzini, said “What matters is policies and strategies. That’s what will make the difference. Why do you have some areas and regions where things work and others not? Policies matter. You may have certain conditions, but you can build on them or not, and that depends on the policies and institutions you create.”

The study itself mentioned that, authorities must create inclusive growth, jobs, better housing and social safety nets, and improve links with rural areas to boost development in urban areas, now home to about 472 million Africans. Already, statistics predict that more than half of Africas population will be living in the cities by 2050, barely three decades from now – looking at the increasing rate of migration and economic status of the continent. If policies factor marginally on the development of the infrastructural and employment (income generation) sector, then cities could fail in accommodating this scenario. This will lead to loss of resources and resulting in a large number of population resorting to unhealthy living conditions – slums in cities.

From 1950 to 2016, there have been a 26% increase in the population of people living in urban centres in Africa. Comparatively, the rate of migration towards urban centre in Africa is unprecedented. 110 years until Europe attained a similar livelihood shift of about 25% in the urban center – even lesser than what Africa is achieving in a period of 66 years – merely half of that of Europe’s. For a continent with such fast rising migration trends, it represents an opportunity for investments towards job creation and also infrastructal investment as population rises. According to Mario Pezzini, creating conditions and services, does not only provide a better quality of life, which is crucial, but also creates opportunities for economic development. He added that, if you don’t create infrastructure, the jobs will not be available.

In view, the report estimated an average 5-7% GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or at least 100 billion USD budget on infrastructure to help bring such urban opportunities into reality. Such funds could be sourced from diverse revenue sectors, including taxes and foreign aids. Currently, net financial flow to Africa stands at an estimate of about 200 billion USD with development assistance funds increasing to 56 billion USD.


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