The World Bank has urged Malawi Government to plan ahead to maximise benefits arising from urbanisation, saying rural to urban migration is slow in the country compared to other African nations.
The advice is contained in a report titled Malawi Urbanisation Review-Leveraging Urbanisation for National Growth and Development, launched on Monday in Lilongwe.
In her speech at the launch, World Bank urban specialist Narae Choi said rural to urban migration has been the main driver of urbanisation in Malawi, but the net migration inflow, including both rural to urban and urban to rural migrants only stand at 14 000 working age migrants between 2006 and 2010.
“At the rate and pace of urbanisation, Malawi is indeed well positioned to plan ahead to maximise the benefits of urban agglomeration, while addressing the congestion effects.
“The Malawi Urbanisation Review examines this proposition by analysing the past and future contribution of cities and towns to national development and by measuring this up against the current institutional and financial capacity of local governments to manage urbanisation,” she said.
Choi said unlike some alarmist projections of rapid
urbanisation, Malawi has been urbanising at a rate of 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent per year between 1998 and 2008, much slower than other African countries.
In comparison, urbanisation rate in the neighbouring Zambia was recorded at 4.15 percent in 2015.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi, in an interview on the sidelines of the launch, said government is committed to ensuring that it coordinates urbanisation and urban development in collaboration with relevant ministries, departments, civil society and the private sector.
He said: “We now have a new department of urban development in my ministry, which is going to provide leadership in urbanisation and urban development matters.
“We are also happy with the relationship we have with UN Habitat through the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank for their continued collaboration and support in our economic and development endeavours.”
United Nations (UN) resident representative Mia Seppo said throughout modern history, urbanisation has been a major driver of development and poverty reduction and Malawi is not an exception.
“Today, nearly half of humanity is living in cities around the world and by 2030 this is expected to reach 60 percent,” she said at the launch.