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Cities: Gateways for Africa’s Regional Economic Integration

Marios Pournaris



Thursday, June 30, 2022


Multifunction Hall: SDGs in Action area
United Nations Economic Commission For Africa
Integrated Governance in Spatial Planning for a More Just, Green, and Healthy Urban Future
SDG 14


ECA has been working on a report and a policy toolkit to support its member States utilize the unstoppable force of urbanization to support regional trade, in the light of AfCFTA. While African urbanization and African trade integration each have an extensive literature and ongoing policy dialogue, the linkage between the two does not; bridging this gap is the subject of this event. This linkage is critical for maximizing the benefits of regional trade, as the majority of value-added tradables are produced and consumed in cities. And, the emerging opportunities of regional trade are vitally important for African cities, where large shares of the urban population are trapped in non-tradable sectors and facing underemployment, low-wages and precarious work, and could benefit from lower-cost and better-matched regionally traded goods and services. ECA is responding to the growing number of requests by its member States for support in order to maximize gains from the enhanced volume of intra-regional trade. These demands have resulted in a report entitled ‘Cities: Gateways for Africa’s Regional Economic Integration’ and a corresponding technical policy toolkit. These both take into account the different needs and potential of different cities in the region, as well as the type of products that are being traded to deliver tailored solutions to member States.


- Provide an understanding that cities, both as centres of consumption and production, play a leading role in realizing the economic gains available under regional trade integration, which is underpinned by the AfCFTA and includes trade in goods, trade in services, and e-commerce - Explain the spatial effects of regional trade, which has the potential to help transform Africa’s system of cities, contributing to the rise of small and midsized cities as well as strengthening major regional hubs, and better linking rural producers to markets. - Discuss the policy options to broaden the benefits of trade, by both minimizing spatial disparity from uneven distribution of trade gains within countries and leveraging the major potential growth available to least developed countries and those currently lagging in regional trade.

Session speakers

Mr. Nemera Gebeyehu Mamo
State Minister
Ministry of Planning and Development
Mr. Stephen Karingi
Mr. Abdulai Abanga
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Works and Housing
Ms. Monika Glinzler
Department of Human Settlements
Mr. Stefan Atchia
African Development Bank