A new initiative by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is supporting African cities to measure their gross domestic product (GDP) – a vital economic well-being indicator.
Findings from the pilot initiative for the first time show that between 2015 and 2020 Harare accounted for an average of 38 per cent of Zimbabwe’s GDP, while Accra and Yaoundé’s contributions in Ghana and Cameroon were 36 per cent and 15.7 per cent respectively.
The GDP estimates will enable a more accurate understanding of the economic weight and performance of cities as well as the design of tailored measures to unlock their full potential.
The figures will further help identify priority policy interventions to attract investors, improve competitiveness and strengthen productive economic sectors in cities.
New regional technical working group
Presenting the initiative to the inaugural meeting of a regional technical working group, Ms. Edlam Yemeru, ECA’s Director for the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division said: “City GDP, despite its immense contribution to national economies, has hardly been measured in Africa consistently to inform policy targeting and investment decisions.”
She added: “Working with partners, ECA aims to ensure city GDP estimations are conducted regularly across the region as a means of accessing and harnessing the economic potential and performance of African cities. The establishment of the regional technical working group is of crucial significance in realizing these aspirations.”
The regional technical working group is comprised of experts from various organizations, including the UN-Habitat, the African Union, the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-Africa), the Sahel and West Africa Club of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the World Resources Institute, the Cities Alliance, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory and the Islamic Development Bank.
The technical working group members will meet regularly to advise on a regional guideline on city GDP estimation in Africa and a roadmap to institutionalize the practice, while exchanging ideas, solutions and findings at the local, national and continental levels.
The regional guideline, in particular, will be used as a main capacity-building tool to support more African cities in conducting their GDP estimates.
The initiative – part of a wider ECA effort to support city-level disaggregation of statistics in Africa – will soon be extended to cover Kigali, Lusaka and Lesotho.