The slowing of sub-Saharan Africa's urbanization: Evidence and implications for urban livelihoods

  • Potts D
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Abstract

According to data from the most recent inter-census period, some sub-Saharan African countries are now urbanizing very slowly. Actual decreases in the level of urbanization are rare, but have been recorded for Zambia (where counter-urbanization began in the 1980s) and Côte d’Ivoire and Mali (where there is evidence of counter-urbanization during the 1990s). Countries where urbanization levels are stagnating or increasing very slowly, especially when considering large and medium-sized towns, include Benin, Mozambique, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. The East African situation is more mixed, but growth rates in many large centres are around or below the national rate. For many urban centres there is evidence of increased circular migration, which has reduced the contribution of in-migration to urban growth. These trends are largely the result of declining economic opportunities in many urban areas, refl ecting crises in urban poverty and livelihood insecurity.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Insecurity
  • Migration
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Urban livelihood
  • Urbanization

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Authors

  • Deborah Potts

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