Ethiopia is now among the most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world. According to UN estimates, Ethiopia’s urban population will triple between 2010 and 2040. Preliminary city-level population projections suggest that some of Ethiopia’s larger cities will much more than triple their 2010 population by 2040: Hawassa’s 2010 population will grow more than 6-fold by 2040, Mek’ele almost 5-fold its 2010 population, and Adama and Bahir Dar almost 4-fold.
The built-up areas of these cities can be expected to expand at an even faster rate than their population. Because urban population growth in Ethiopia will be accompanied by economic development and the increasing availability of inexpensive transport the annual consumption of urban land per person will grow as well—a phenomenon consistent with the historical experience of cities all over the world. Assuming a 1% annual increase in urban land per person, Mek’ele, Adama, and Bahir Dar are expected to increase their 2010 built-up areas by more than 5-fold and Hawassa may increase in size by more than by more than 8-fold.
Municipal officials in Ethiopia, assisted by a technical team from the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, are working to make room for this urban expansion—planning ahead now so that the growth of their cities occurs in an orderly, equitable, and sustainable way. The Ethiopian Urban Expansion Initiative is a collaborative effort, engaging Ethiopian municipalities as they take a set of crucial steps to keep their cities inclusive and affordable in the face of rapid urban expansion.
The interim report at this link details the work to date of the NYU-based team at the Urban Expansion initiative and the participating municipalities of four Ethiopian cities and offers of preview of what is to come.