Cities Alliance is organising a high-level exposure visit to Mekelle, Ethiopia, from 20–23 November 2023, to help partner cities in Eastern Africa delve into Urban Expansion Planning and its potential benefits. This visit is part of our project supporting Urban Expansion Planning for inclusive, green growth in Ethiopia and Uganda.

Ethiopian cities have been engaging in urban expansion planning since the inception of the Urban Expansion Initiative in 2013, which sought to enhance the capacity of four regional capitals (Mekele, Hawassa, Bahir Dar, and Adama) in preparing for their inevitable urban growth.


Urban Expansion Planning is a simple, cost-effective way for cities to steer their rapid growth towards inclusivity and environmental sustainability.


These plans consider the specific needs of youth and women to access safe transport, markets, public space, water, and sanitation.  

The surge in urban population due to natural growth and rural-urban migration is propelling rapid increases in the populations of secondary cities in developing countries. Much of this expansion is disorderly, lacking adequate infrastructure and causing severe environmental consequences. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 80 per cent of residential areas developed in the past 25 years are informal and unplanned.

In a well-considered expansion strategy, cities forecast their growth over the next 30 years, allocate land for expansion, establish arterial road networks, and designate environmentally sensitive areas for protection.

During the three-day event, participants will tour Mekelle's newly built arterial roads and residential neighbourhoods, reflecting on the Ethiopian approach and sharing their experiences in developing urban expansion plans.

The mission will comprise regional delegations, led by mayors, with representatives from central and local governments from three countries and 15 cities, including Adama, Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, Mekelle, and Wajale in Ethiopia; Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Koboko, and Mbale in Uganda; and the Somali cities of Boromia, Gabiley, and Tog-Wajale. 

Event Info
Event Date
Event Location
Mekelle and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia