Shelter Afrique urges African countries to Fast-track urbanization
Shelter Afrique Head of Policy, Research and Partnerships Dr. Muhammad Gambo leading a panel discussion on financing Urban development at the 9th Africities Conference in Kisumu. With him are (from left to right) Dr. Kamal Ben Amara, Mayor of Bizerta, Tunisia; Hashting Chikoko Regional Director, Africa at C40 Cities; and Kevin Ouko, Director of Corporate Banking at Ecobank.

Shelter Afrique Urges African Countries To Fast-track Urbanization To Spur Growth

2 years ago
2 mins read

Shelter Afrique, a pan-African housing and urban development financier has urged African countries to fast-track urbanization in order to stimulate economic development across the continent.

Head of Policy, Research and Partnerships at Shelter Afrique, Dr. Muhammad Gambo said urbanization could play a major role in economic and social progress, if well managed.

Dr. Gambo made the call while speaking at the 9th Africities Conference held in Kisumu, Kenya between 17-21 May, 2022 which was attended by over 11,000 people, including 8,000 official delegates from across Africa and globally.

He said, “No country has grown to middle income without industrializing and urbanizing and none has grown to high income without vibrant cities. China, for instance, is widely held up as an example of how urbanization can fuel industrialization and transform living standards. This is why we strongly believe African countries should put more emphasis on effective urbanization if they intend to lift their people out of mass poverty, and doing so, fast.”

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics 2020: Africapolis, Mapping a New Urban Geography”, the pace of urbanisation and urban population growth in Africa has changed significantly across the continent generally as well as within its various regions.

Shelter Afrique Head of Policy, Research and Partnerships Dr. Muhammad Gambo leading a panel discussion on financing Urban development at the 9th Africities Conference in Kisumu. With him is Dr. Kamal Ben Amara, Mayor of Bizerta, Tunisia.


According to the report, Africa’s urbanisation rate will continue to grow among the fastest of the world regions in the coming years as its population grows, which is expected to double by the year 2050.

“We urge policymakers across the continent to enact policies that will encourage urban growth modeled around economic development and poverty eradication,” Dr. Gambo said.

He, however, noted that funding urban growth still remains a formidable challenge for many countries, but believes it’s achievable.

“Shelter Afrique recently completed a debut ₦46 billion (US$110.7 million) Series 1 Fixed Rate Senior Unsecured Bond Issuance in Nigeria’s capital market under its ₦200 billion (US$481.3 million) bond issuance programme for housing and urban development in Nigeria. This issue was 60.7% oversubscribed, meaning there is an appetite for such bonds, not only in Nigeria but also in other countries like Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, etc. What African countries need is the know-how to create financial ecosystems that can support the mobilization of municipal and subnational finances for urban infrastructure development,” Dr. Gambo stated.

The African Development Bank estimates that the continent’s infrastructure financing needs will be as much as US$170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated gap of around US$100 billion a year.

Africities is a Pan Africa conference that is convened by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A) and brings together the leadership of cities and sub-national governments and their associations for the advancement of decentralization and local governance aimed at improving the living standards of the citizens. This year’s conference discussed the role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the Implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063.


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