Senior experts and policymakers presented important lessons and opportunities for African countries to strengthen linkages between rural and urban areas at a Brussels Briefing which took place on Monday 20th March 2017. The event, held under the title of “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa”, attracted a wide audience of over 130 participants representing the ACP and EU diplomatic and development communities present at the ACP Secretariat, and an online audience of over 100 following via Webstream.  It was organised by CTA, in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Development Agency (GIZ), the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission (EC/DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat and Concord (the European NGO confederation for Relief and Development).

This debate, which comes at a time of increased focus on Africa’s demographic boom and rapid urbanisation, sought to consider the implications for rural jobs and youth, migration and economic transformation in the continent. Employment, especially for youth, agricultural transformation, and the use of peri-urban areas and small intermediary cities as service hubs emerged as the dominant talking points of the Briefing.

The discussions pointed out the importance of infrastructure to link rural, peri-urban and urban areas, particularly the construction of good roads that can reduce transportation costs and promote development of the off-farm economy. Furthermore, a strong emphasis was placed on the need to make rural transformation inclusive through the right policy interventions and finance mechanisms.

Several examples of successes from producers, young entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers highlighted new opportunities for value-chain actors in the context of urbanisation and stronger rural-urban linkages. Of significance in terms of emerging trends is the growing demand created by urban consumers, which offers new markets for farmers and entrepreneurs in fresh and processed foods.

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