Ethiopia has recognised the critical role that well-managed urbanisation will play in realising its ambition to achieve middle income status by 2025. Given the extended lifecycle of urban infrastructure, a small number of key decisions over the next five years will shape and lock in Ethiopia’s urban future for many decades to come.
Ethiopia has a unique opportunity to shape its urban growth. Ethiopia has recognised the critical role that well-managed urbanisation will play in realising its ambition to achieve middle income status by 2025. Given the extended lifecycle of urban infrastructure, a small number of key decisions over the next five years will shape and lock in Ethiopia’s urban future for many decades to come. If Ethiopia gets these decisions right, it could unleash a considerable ‘urban dividend’ from the economic benefits that arise from both engaging an educated and youthful workforce and creating employment opportunities and innovation in new city-related products and services. This report offers a process to help align economic planning and rapid urban development to accelerate growth.
The report outlines a new framework for assessing and maximising the contribution that cities can make to achieving our economic, social and environmental objectives, including outlining and assessing a range of alternative urbanisation pathways. This sets out an approach for the Government to bring together Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Planning (GTP) process with a national spatial structure into a coordinated and mutually supportive strategy that optimises the country’s economic development pathway.
Economic, social and environmental objectives are not in conflict, but instead are mutually reinforcing. In Ethiopia, policy makers need to link the GTP II with a range of critical urban development choice s that define what urbanisation means for the economic geography of Ethiopia. Key decisions relate to a number of areas: explicitly linking Ethiopia’s economic and spatial strategies; the identification of strategic growth corridors linked to targeted economic functions; the number and hierarchy of urban centres; the infrastructure demands that support this, including power, water, information and transportation; and how to deliver these in a national urban system that is competitive, socially and economically inclusive, climate resilient and environmentally efficient.
The report, worked in partnership with the Ethiopian government, outlines a new integrated framework for assessing and maximising the contribution that cities can make towards achieving our development goals. This involves identifying and evaluating a range of alternative urbanisation scenarios that are informed by comprehensive geo-spatial mapping of the suitability and core drivers of urban demand such as natural resources, planned special economic zones and transport infrastructure. The report also draws on the lessons learned from urbanisation experiences elsewhere including Vietnam, Colombia and South Korea.
This study is a starting point and stimulus for Ethiopia’s policymakers to link Ethiopia’s economic and urban development goals in the National Urban Development Spatial Plan. The potential benefits of urbanisation demonstrated by the preferred scenario pose interesting challenges to the Government about the level and distribution of urbanisation that should take place, what the principles of economic distribution might be and whether Ethiopia should more aggressively target sustainable urbanisation as a core pillar of its economic strategy.