Urbanization in Southern Africa

Across southern Africa, more and more people live in towns compared to rural areas. Most towns struggle to provide housing for rapidly growing populations. As a result, large percentages of urban residents only find housing in the informal sector. In such ‘’informal settlement’’, or slums, there is a general lack of services such as access roads, water, sewerage and electricity. Residents in those areas mostly have no formal tenure rights.

Informal settlements entrench poverty and inequality, and are one of the biggest development challenge of many southern African countries.

There are different “push” and “pull” factors that make a lot of people prefer to live in towns compared to the countryside:

  • Pull factors – attracting people to towns: better access to services such as health, schools, as well as better employment opportunities
  • Push factors – making people leave the country side: persistent rural poverty, lack of income opportunities and climate related events such as drought.
In Namibia for example:

  • In the year 2000, 30% of the population lived in towns
  • By 2018 it was 50%
  • And by 2030 it is an expected 70%
Urban and rural population in Namibia
Cities struggle to keep up with town planning and the provision of residential land and housing, especially for the poor. As a result, informal settlements are rapidly growing in many towns.
Urbanization in Southern Africa
Urbanization in Southern Africa
Urbanization in Southern Africa