Overcoming barriers: Sustainable development, productive cities, and structural transformation in Africa



Against a background of protracted decline in global commodity prices and renewed focus on the Africa rising narrative, Africa is proving resilient, underpinned by strong economic performance in non-commodity exporting countries. The rise of African cities contains the potential for new engines for the continent’s structural transformation, if harnessed properly. However, the susceptibility of Africa’s commodity-dependent economies to price shocks underscores its vulnerability and need for strong policy buffers. At the same time, poverty reduction continues to be slow, dragged down by factors such as high inequality, gender disparities, and a lack of structural transformation, among others. How do the African Development Bank’s top priorities—Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa—address these barriers and capitalize on these opportunities? How should policymakers consider the “High 5s” when enacting change?

On September 27, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings and African Development Bank co-hosted a discussion on Africa’s economy, the opportunities presented by urbanization, new approaches to poverty reduction, and the African Development Bank’s new High 5s approach to spurring the continent’s growth. The African Development Bank’s “African Economic Outlook” and “African Development Report” was presented, followed by a moderated discussion and audience Q&A.



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