Ethiopia Urbanization Review (EUR)



Approval Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type


Ethiopia is urbanizing fast at about 4.1 percent per annum and the country’s urban population is expected to exceed 50 million by 2050. Ethiopia’s system of cities is comprised largely of very small urban agglomerations and the dominance of Addis Ababa. According to the 2007 census, there are only four cities and towns in Ethiopia with populations exceeding 200,000 excluding Addis Ababa which accounts for roughly 25% of the country’s urban population. As would be expected, Addis Ababa plays a leading role in the country’s economic development. The concentration of economic activity in Addis is expected to continue to grow as the country’s agglomeration process advances. As the primary city and national capital, it’s role in sustaining the country’s double digit economic growth and delivering the potential benefits of urbanization is not to be underestimated. Yet conditions of cities are not conducive to leveraging the opportunity brought by urbanization. Addis’ challenges are indicative of the overall lack of urban infrastructure and services; 2007 National Census indicates that only 60 percent of Addis Ababa’s residents have access to a public piped water supply while 32 percent use private sources of some kind. A further 14 percent of Addis Ababa households had no sanitary facilities and up to 30 percent of households had no formal access to trash disposal. Only 34 percent of households in the city used electricity for cooking. Rapid urbanization strains these already inadequate systems. Timely investment in infrastructure is required in order to ensure that access to basic services, which is often worse in smaller urban centers than in larger ones, does not deteriorate. The right policies can increase access to urban services over time and reduce the disparity between small and large urban areas. It is therefore important to systematically explore how urbanization can accelerate economic progress and social inclusion in Ethiopia. Empirical data and evidence-based assessments are required to examine urbanization challenges and opportunities and to identify priority policy options.
Given this background, the Ethiopia Urbanization Review would aim to: (i) examine the pace and form of urbanization and regional development in Ethiopia; (ii) identify key constraints and opportunities for more efficient, inclusive, resilient and green urbanization; and (iii) inform priority policy options with the Government of Ethiopia. It should be noted that the activity objectives will be refined/revised during the project concept note stage, expected to take place in September/October, 2013.
The activity will be mainly research and analysis based. The research will be mostly secondary data collection and analysis, with some primary data collection (surveys and fieldwork), if needed to supplement the secondary data findings. The purpose of this work is to foster and evidence based approach to informing urban policy decision making. Based on the data, rigorous analysis will be conducted to underpin the set of recommendations. As well, the work to undergo a set of public consultations, to ensure that findings are disseminated broadly and that voices from national and local level stakeholders (as well as CSOs) can inform the final policy recommendations and enrich the findings. At this point, we hope to hold a national workshop at data collection phase so that the outcome of the workshop can inform the research questions and focus areas for in depth analysis which will follow. Additionally, we hope to hold a set of workshops on key issues emanating from the report and complement the preliminary findings with the participation of a broad set of stakeholders. A platform we can use is the existing Ethiopia Cities Day which brings together a broad set of stakeholders (cities, regional governments, federal government). As you may know, this is held regularly and discusses policy issues related to urban development. We will of course discuss all these ideas with the government.
Expected Impacts and Results
EUR is expected to provide; (i) diagnostic of the urbanization process in Ethiopia and primary constraints to achieving the urban vision; (ii) proposed policy recommendations on selected policy areas that will be critical for Ethiopia’s urban strategy and moving towards its goal of becoming a middle-income country. As the activity objectives, the outcomes will be refined/revised during project concept note stage.