Africa’s border agglomerations


Border urban agglomerations are an important feature of the continent’s urban landscape. More than 42 million people or almost 8% of the total urban population live in these agglomerations. There are some 635 border agglomerations in Africa that are less than 40 km from another agglomeration in a neighbouring country, including 47 twin cities at less than 10 km from one another as in the case of Brazzaville and Kinshasa. Six of these have more than one million inhabitants, including Kinshasa, the continent’s fifth largest city with 7.3 million inhabitants. The others are Lomé (Togo), Brazzaville (Congo), N’Djaména (Chad), Gisenyi (Rwanda) and Bujumbura (Burundi). Africa also has ten national capitals that are located at a national border: Bangui, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Gaborone, Kinshasa, Lomé, Maseru, Mbabane, N’Djaména, Porto Novo. However, this border dimension is very unequally distributed across Africa. North Africa for example only has 19 border agglomerations in total and large swatches of southern Africa have only a few smaller border agglomerations. In the Great Lakes region and in West Africa, border agglomerations are an important feature of the urban network. In Burundi, 27 out of all 33 agglomerations are close to the border. This is also the case for more than half of all agglomerations in Benin, Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Togo.


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