Policymakers should reform urban land market, invest infrastructures

07Feb 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Policymakers should reform urban land market, invest infrastructures

Dar es Salaam (Dar) (from Arabic Dār as-Salām, "the house of peace"; formerly Mzizima) is the former capital as well as the most populous city in Tanzania and a regionally important economic centre. Located along the shores of Indian Ocean, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in the-



Until 1974, Dar es Salaam served as Tanzania’s capital city, at which point the capital city commenced transferring to Dodoma, which was officially completed in 1996. However, as of 2018, it continues to remain a focus of central government bureaucracy, although this is in the process of fully moving to Dodoma. In addition, it is Tanzania's most prominent city in arts, fashion, media, music, film and television and a leading financial centre. The city is the leading arrival and departure point for most tourists who visit Tanzania, including the national parks for safaris and the islands of Unguja and Pemba. Dar es Salaam is also the largest and most populous Swahili-speaking city in the world.

It is the capital of the co-extensive Dar es Salaam Region, which is one of Tanzania's 31 administrative regions and consists of five districts: Kinondoni in the north, Ilala in the centre, Ubungo, Temeke in the south and Kigamboni in the east across the Kurasini creek. The region had a population of 4,364,541 as of the official 2012 census.

Dar es salaam has been named among the cities in sub-Saharan Africa, which are the most expensive in the world for businesses, relative to income levels, a new report by the World Bank has found.

The report said that those cities will remain “closed to the world” unless policymakers reform urban land markets and invest in infrastructure,

The number of people living in sub-Saharan African cities is growing rapidly: An additional 187 million people are expected to live in urban areas by 2025, the equivalent of the entire population of Nigeria. However, the economies in these cities are not keeping pace because they are crowded, disconnected and costly, according to “Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World,” a report published today.

These factors make cities such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Kampala in Uganda relatively unattractive to investors and Lagos in Nigeria, entrepreneurs, meaning they produce few goods and services for trade on global and regional markets, the report finds.



 “What Africa needs are more affordable, connected, and livable cities,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for Africa. “Improving the economic and social dividends from urbanization will be critical as better developed cities could transform Africa’s economies.”


The report proposes a number of reforms, including formalizing land markets, clarifying property rights and instituting effective urban planning, as well as investing more in physical and institutional infrastructure.

High costs of living are also making African cities unattractive to companies looking to set up businesses. Housing, food and transport in a sub-Saharan African city cost, on average, nearly 30 percent more than in other regions with similar income levels. African urban dwellers pay 55 percent more for housing and 35 percent more for food. 

These higher living costs mean that companies need to pay higher wages, making them less competitive than their global rivals. As a result, companies tend to remain local in scope, missing out on global trading opportunities, and also passing higher costs on to their local customers.


To address these issues, the World Bank is calling on African leaders to implement policy and investment reforms to move cities in a more globally competitive direction.


“What cities do now will determine their shape and efficiency not just for years to come, but for decades or even centuries,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice.


This means implementing policies to strengthen institutions that govern land markets in these cities, which will enable them to clarify and formalize property and land rights, update regulations and make developing land more efficient and attractive. The World Bank also urges African leaders and investors to put money into “early and coordinated infrastructure investments” to increase productivity, liveability and affordability.




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