Urban agglomerations in the ECOWAS area
The 15 ECOWAS member countries are experiencing a fast rate of urban growth. In 2015, some 165 million ECOWAS citizens or 47% of the regional population lived in one of the region’s 2 286 urban agglomerations compared to only 9% in 1950. The majority of people in West Africa’s coastal countries are already urban dwellers. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has the second highest level of urbanisation (53%) in the ECOWAS area after Gambia (56%). Its population density is the fourth highest in Africa at 205 inhabitants per km2. Nigeria’s high population is a key factor in explaining not just the large number of urban agglomerations but also their relatively large size. Twelve cities in Nigeria have a population greater than 1 million people, including Lagos, which is home to 11.8 million people. However, beyond mega-cities, West Africa is characterised by a dense network of small and medium-sized agglomerations that contribute to shaping national urban networks and connecting rural and urban populations. Growing rural population densities are blurring the line between rural and urban.