The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 67

The World Bank Urban Bias and The Structural Adjustment


27 July 1994

Authors: David Cowan

Publication Date: 1994

Although sub-Saharan Africa has a long history of urban settlements, which possibly date from as early as 200AD and ranged across the continent from the modern state of Ghana to that of Zimbabwe, the urban population of the continent has always represented only a small minority of the total population. However, while this is still the case in most sub-Saharan African countries, the urban population of the subcontinent has expanded rapidly throughout the course of the twentieth century.

Moreover, although the impetus for this increase in urbanisation is largely credited to the colonisation of Africa from the 1880s onwards, and the Europeans' desire for colonial administrative centres and ports from which to ship raw materials, in reality it was not until 1950 that the rate of urbanisation began to rapidly accelerate, as shown by the figures in Table 1.

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