Part of the New Climate Economy initiative, Unlocking the Power of Ethiopia’s Cities highlights the importance of building compact, more efficient cities. It proposes creating a sustainable national urban system across the country and makes recommendations to support the government’s five-year Growth and Transformation Plan.
Ethiopia’s urban population is expected to grow by more than 20 million people from 88 million in the next ten years. Meanwhile the urbanization rate is projected to increase from the current 19% to 25% by 2025. The number of people living in cities could reach 150 million by 2040.
In the face of an increasing urban population, Ethiopia can learn from the experience of other developing countries. In some developing countries too much growth was concentrated in rapidly expanding capital cities. This meant that they were later unable to keep up with their growth, having to tackle health-related problems caused by pollution and divert scarce resources to provide services such as basic housing and sanitation to a sprawling urban population.
To support the growth of Addis, the report recommends expanding a network of regional cities that evolve along strategic economic corridors, in-line with the government’s emerging urban development strategy. This would diversify economic activity and distribute wealth across the country, strengthening links with regional and international trading partners and accelerating development. By contrast, failing to set up this network would be a missed economic opportunity.
The report calls on government to set up clusters of cities in planned development areas and corridors – eight in total – spread across the country. This would allow each cluster, or even a city within each cluster, to specialise in specific commercial, service or industrial activities, complementing each other.
The report was co-authored by the Ethiopian Development Research Institute and the Global Green Growth Institute.