Research Briefing | Feb 7, 2024

Africa: The long-term outlook for sub-Saharan African cities

Sub-Saharan cities will lead the way for GDP growth, but similarly strong demographic changes will limit gains in GDP per person, reaffirming the region’s position at the lower end of the development spectrum.

What you will learn:

  • GDP in sub-Saharan cities will increase at an annual average rate of 2.9% during 2024-50, comfortably outpacing all other parts of the world. However, what makes its position unique is the demographic outlook. While in other regions we forecast GDP growth to be markedly stronger than employment and population, in sub-Saharan cities this growth disparity narrows considerably.
  • The implication of similar growth for GDP, employment, and population, is that sub-Saharan cities will continue to trail behind the rest of the world when it comes to GDP per person. Indeed, we forecast that GDP per capita in 2050 will be just 13.6% higher than in 2023, which is only a third of the gains expected in Latin America: the region with the second weakest outlook. Economic growth in sub-Saharan cities will instead be driven by large-scale population changes as opposed to productivity gains, something that will constrain income growth and the purchasing power of residents.
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