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Pros & Cons of the Rapid Growth of African Cities and where new employment opportunities will be generated

Africa is rapidly urbanizing. Its rate of urbanization soared from 15% in 1960 to 40% in 2010, and is projected to reach 60% by 2050, according to the report “UN-Habitat, The State of African Cities”. This is not bad news – urbanization is usually linked to economic prosperity. It can create opportunities for economic development and the chance of survival for the poor. As The World Bank put it in the overview article for the ‘Urbanization in Africa: Trends, Promises, and Challenges’ event, “The continent’s urbanization rate, the highest in the world, can lead to economic growth, transformation, and poverty reduction. Alternatively, it can lead to increased inequality, urban poverty, and the proliferation of slums.”

Meanwhile,  a new report, “The Future of Work in South Africa: Digitisation, productivity and job creation”, from McKinsey & Company, estimates that digitisation and automation can result in a net gain of up to 1.2 million jobs in SA by 2030. The authors believe that technology-related gains could triple SA’s productivity growth, more than double growth in per capita income, and add more than a percentage point to its real GDP growth rate over the next decade. Given the current row over the lost of jobs in the SA banking sector, that is certainly good news.

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Alastair Tempest

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