December 9/2022 (ENA) A webinar, hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has underlined the vital role of measuring city GDP in enabling policymakers to take necessary steps towards maximizing economic productivity and performance at the city and subnational level.
Government officials, data scientists, national accounts experts, urbanization specialists and development professionals from across Africa have participated in the webinar. according to ECA.
The objective was to raise awareness of and exchange experiences on compiling city GDP (Gross Domestic Product), including the challenges faced by different countries in the process and various ways to overcome them.
Speaking at the webinar, Edlam Yemeru, ECA’s Director a.i. for the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, said Africa is undergoing a rapid urban transition and half of its population will be living in cities by 2030.
This transition is not just demographic, she added, but also has major economic implications, given that economic activities are concentrated in cities, thereby accounting for a large share of Africa’s combined GDP.
“To ensure urban transition leads to maximum productivity, Africa needs to plan and manage its cities more effectively. This requires having disaggregated data at the city level to inform policymaking and resource allocation that contribute to inclusive economic growth, especially for job creation, poverty reduction, affordable housing, green infrastructure and quality social services,” she elaborated.
Against this background, she told the delegates that ECA launched an initiative in 2021 to support six African cities – Accra, Harare, Kigali, Lusaka, Maseru and Yaoundé – in measuring their city GDP and their contribution to the national economies.
The insights, lessons and good practices from the initiative were shared with the delegates during the webinar.
In particular, delegates learned that the six pilot cities represent 34 to 50 per cent of their respective country’s GDPs, which further highlighted the critical need for measuring sub-national statistics to inform evidence-based urban planning, policymaking and investment.
“We would like to expand this initiative to other countries in Africa,” Edlam Yemeru said.
“However, this requires strong partnership across all levels of government to institutionalize city GDP estimation. Doing so will strengthen the evidence base for policy action to translate Africa’s urban growth into Africa’s inclusive economic growth. At ECA, we plan to scale up our efforts in this regard.”
During the webinar, delegates appreciated the relevance of the initiative and made proposals for expanding it to other cities in Africa.
They further underlined the value of a regional guideline on city GDP estimation which ECA will be developing.