UN Economic Commission for Africa

UN Economic Commission for Africa

ECA strives to improve urban productivity, economic development and promotes international cooperation for Africa.


The urban dimension at ECA has been a focus since its inception in 1958. Noting the speed of urbanization as a megatrend in Africa, in 2013 the ECA was repositioned to support African countries to leverage the urbanization process for structural transformation. ECA and partners supported African countries to develop a Harmonized Implementation, Monitoring and Reporting framework after the adoption of the NUA. The ECA continues to support countries in harnessing the potential of urbanization for structural transformation. 

The Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) is an annual multi-stakeholder platform, which was held in Kigali, Rwanda from 3-5 March 2022. It was organized jointly by the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), the Rwandan government in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, and other parts of the United Nations. It brought together ministers, senior officials, experts and practitioners from UN member States, private sector, civil society, academia and UN organizations to deliberate on the theme of “Building forward better: A green, inclusive and resilient Africa poised to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063”. The Forum recognized the role of sustainable urbanization and local implementation as accelerators of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 in Africa. In particular, the Forum welcomed and extensively considered the role of Voluntary Local Reviews of progress with the SDGs and Agenda 2036. On this, the Forum recommended that member States strengthen institutional mechanisms to engage local governments in regional and global agendas; to leverage institutionalize national-local partnerships and multi-stakeholder dialogue in the conduct of voluntary local reviews; to enhance the knowledge, skills and financial capacities of local and regional governments and to leverage voluntary local review processes to identify, implement and accelerate interventions for local development. Importantly, member States were requested to strengthen the disaggregation of data relating to Sustainable Development Goal indicators at the subnational level and to strengthen engagement in the high-level political forum on sustainable development and put forward strong arguments about the importance of urban and human settlement in the overall implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the critical role of voluntary local reviews. Member States were also asked to place housing and basic services at the core of global and regional commitment implementation and mobilize the power of cities to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In the ECA region the broad scope of the Abidjan Urban Transport Project (PTUA) covers the development of 87.9 km of rapid urban roads, six interchanges, and the rehabilitation of traffic lights at 89 intersections. It also covers assessment of air quality, urban waste management and the strengthening of existing capacities in traffic regulation, urban planning, local revenue improvement and road safety. The Project integrates a holistic strategy for adaptation and reduction of greenhouse gases in Abidjan, starting from an inventory of the impacts of climate change and a study for the protection of natural ecosystems. It includes a component for participatory management and conservation of the Banco National Park, on the city outskirts.

The ECA region has several good examples addressing housing deficits in Africa through financing. These include how in South Africa the public sector continues to scale housing delivery through the Housing Development Agency (HDA) with plans to construct 500,000 houses between 2019 and 2024. The National Department of Human Settlements has a target to deliver 270,000 social housing units, formalize 300 informal settlements each year, deliver 180,000 serviced sites, provide 18,000 affordable rental units, and develop innovative financing systems and modality for land acquisition. In Mauritius, the Finance Act of 2009 makes it mandatory for companies to devote two percent of their profits to corporate social responsibility; these funds can be used for approved programmes which can include social or subsidized housing.