Diana Mitlin on why urban poverty in sub-Saharan Africa needs more attention

WIDER webinar, 1 February 2022

Diana Mitlin on why urban poverty in sub-Saharan Africa needs more attention

Diana Mitlin joins the WIDER Webinar Series to look into urban economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Urban economies in the global South has received little attention in development economics. This webinar goes over important issues in urban economies and its research in sub-Saharan Africa. The webinar is joined by Michael Danquah as a discussant.

The event is chaired by UNU-WIDER Director Kunal Sen.

You can also listen to the recording on our Soundcloud page.

Why urban poverty in sub-Saharan Africa needs more attention?

The challenges facing urban economies in sub-Saharan Africa are considerable. Yet while development economics is a well-established field, relatively little attention has been paid to urban economies in the global South. With research in this area increasing, it is crucial to reflect on what we need to understand better.

It is now widely accepted that urban areas are rife with inadequate livelihood opportunities and considerable poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of those working in the urban economy, with unaffordable and unavailable essential services as well as lockdowns preventing the mobility that is essential for economic activities.

But while the additional costs incurred by both households and companies through inadequate public service provision are now recognised, improvements have not been delivered. As such, increases in productivity remain a major challenge for urban economies.

About the speakers

Diana Mitlin is professor of global urbanism at The University of Manchester’s Global Development Institute and principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development. Since 2020, she has led the African Cities Research Consortium, a six-year programme funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which seeks to generate new insights and approaches to tackle complex problems in Africa’s rapidly changing cities, and enable them to become more productive, equitable and inclusive.

Michael Danquah, a development economist, is a Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER as co-focal point for the project Transforming informal work and livelihoods within UNU-WIDER's 2019–23 work programme. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Small Business Economics, Energy Economics among others. He has been awarded the Most Promising Young Scholar and Best Researcher in the School of Social Sciences, University of Ghana.