From millions to billions: financing the development of African cities

Urbanisation is the mega trend reshaping Africa. The continent’s population is rapidly growing and is expected to reach 4 billion people by the end of the century. This is coupled with unprecedented rural-to-urban migration, driven largely by young people. As a result of this demographic confluence, the number of people living in African cities is expected to nearly triple – reaching approximately 1.5 billion by 2050. This report first offers a landscape analysis of city financing in Africa. It illuminates the demand-side and supply-side constraints that prevent financing from reaching most African local authorities, drawing on in-depth analyses of 10 cities. The paper moves beyond existing analyses that simply conclude, ‘African cities need more finance’ or ‘African cities need bankable projects'. Although constraints vary in type and severity across cities, the case studies reveal common themes and highlight options for improving both the supply and demand of subnational finance if city and national governments collaborate and financiers are alerted to opportunities.