Economic development in secondary cities

More than 56.2% of the global population now lives in cities. By 2050 68% of us will live in cities. We are moving towards what Shlomo Angelo described as the “Planet of Cities” – a global system of cities becoming more and more intricately connected.

Today, 40% of the world’s population lives in what we call secondary cities. As the population grows, so will the number of people living in those cities.

Secondary cities are rapidly growing urban areas in developing countries that are experiencing unexpected growth and development. They are defined by their population, size, function and economic status, and neighbouring and distant cities. City population can generally range from 200,000 to 2.5 million; however, the size of cities is largely dependent on a country’s population and that of its capital or biggest city. For instance, secondary cities in China have populations well over 5 million, whereas, in Ethiopia, they are less than 200,000.

Cities in focus – Nairobi

By 2050, the number of people living in cities will increase by 2.5 billion. Almost 90% of those people will live in either Africa or Asia.

Today, Cairo, Lagos and Kinshasa already have populations well over 10 million, making them mega-cities. Other cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi are following suit.

Most of Africa’s urbanisation, however, will happen in medium-sized cities.

The rapid rate of urbanisation presents a unique moment for African cities. If managed well, these cities could be cradles of innovation and opportunities; however, if not, they may face long term development challenges.