Ethiopia today is undergoing a fundamental change. Historically one of the least urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa, this nation of 78 million people is urbanising quickly at a high rate of 4.2 percent a year.
While much of this urban growth is centred in Addis Ababa— the capital accounts for 25 percent of Ethiopia’s urban population of 13.8 million—secondary cities are growing as well. (Source: UN-Habitat State of the African Cities Report 2008)
As a result, the government has established policy and regulatory frameworks and increased investment in critical areas such as housing, employment and improved living conditions for urban residents.
It has also taken the step of establishing the first-ever Ethiopian Cities Network in cooperation with the country’s major cities.
The new network aims to serve as a forum for member cities to exchange experiences on improving and implementing strategic urban planning as well as innovative approaches for pro-poor urban development.
It also seeks to promote sustainable, effective governance and provide cities with a mechanism for influencing policy development.
As a further sign of its commitment to urban issues, the national government has designated October 23 as “Ethiopian Cities Day,” an annual public event to reflect on urbanisation and urban development.
This year’s inaugural celebrations took place from 23-26 October with the theme of “Our Cities in Action.”
“The day designated for cities will also help popularise the Ethiopian government’s urban development agenda,” Minister of Works and Urban Development Dr. Kassu Iilala said at a press conference to mark the occasion.
The events included a documentary film screening, an exhibition on city marketing events, radio programmes, televised talk shows, panel discussions on municipal finance, partnership forums with cities and educational institutions and a youth photography competition. An award was also presented for city best practices that received over 30 applicants.
At the request of the government of Ethiopia, the Cities Alliance has also supported the Ethiopian Cities Network through its implementing partner, GTZ.
Cities Alliance Regional Adviser Tewodros Alemu, who is based in Addis Ababa, has been actively involved in supporting the implementation of this key development activity.
-- Read an article on Cities Day published by The Ethiopian News Agency, “1st Ethiopian Cities Day Celebration Launched,” 22 October, 2009.