Sessions on the Transition

STA 4 - Economic and Social Transition

20 Nov

20 November

14:30 to 17:30

Venue: Laayoune


United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Tel: +251-11-544-5000




Africa has gone through multiple and sometimes concurrent economic and social transitions. Largely, the continent has witnessed three interrelated transitions namely (i) an increase in the number of low-income countries graduating into middle-income status (rising GDP per capita) with implications for growth, business investments, income, employment creation and poverty reduction; (ii) rapid urban transition mostly driven by natural population increase.  Africa is the least urbanized but the fastest urbanizing region in the world with small towns, secondary and primary cities growing exponentially in the last two decades; and (iii) a transition from rural-based economic structures to urban-based economies supported by manufacturing and modern services. At the core of these transitions is the role of cities in economic and social development. Empirical evidence from McKinsey Global Institute[1] shows that the expansion of cities has the potential for further growth and poverty reduction across many countries. Therefore, Africa’s rapid urban transition is one of the mega trends and defining opportunities of our time. The significance of urbanization and the role of cities in the economy is well documented and continues to inform many policy debates at regional, national and subnational levels. While the role of cities in economic transformation is generally recognized, little is known on how African local and subnational authorities can engage the economic and social transitions that are taking place on the continent to improve people’s welfare including creating investment opportunities, productive jobs and inclusive and sustainable development. Against this backdrop, the session will focus on a broader discussion including whether the current policy landscape is favourable for Africa’s economic and social transition and the region’s development aspirations. It will also interrogate and analyse the potential benefits of cities through experience and knowledge sharing in order to tease out lessons learned and best practices from Africa’s standpoint with a view to enhancing the capacity of local and subnational authorities. Specifically, the session will map out policy actions and strategies at city level in order to inform an assessment of potential benefits, quick wins (low-hanging fruits) and complementary actions necessary for an effective economic and social transition in Africa. Finally, the session will identify major national and sub-national opportunities and challenges in economic and social transitions including those that relate to labour markets and employment opportunities for youth. [1] McKinsey Global Institute 2012. Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities





  1. Opening
  2. Welcome Remarks, Ms Edlam Yemeru, Chief of Urbanisation Section, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
  3. Rev. Mmachakga Mpho Moruakgomo, President, Botswana Association of Local Authorities
  4. M. Yassine Daoudi, Vice President, Moroccan Association of Presidents of Communal Councils (AMPCC)

Africa: A continent in Transition- Setting the scene and context
Ms Lilia Naas Hachem, Representative of the Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa


  1. Hon. Deputy Minister Kotiti Diholo, Ministry of Local Government and of Chieftainship Affairs, Kingdom of Lesotho
  2. Ms Christiane Bouchart, Vice President, City of Lille, France and President Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire

Open discussion

Closing and Wrap Up

Rapporteur, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Ms Lilia Naas Hachem, Representative of the Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa


Parallel Sessions