Urban agglomerations in the UEMOA area
The eight UEMOA member countries are experiencing a fast rate of urban growth. In 2015, some 42 million UEMOA citizens or 38% of the Union’s population lived in one of the region’s 738 urban agglomerations compared to less than 5% in 1950. With the exception of Guinea-Bissau, the majority of people in UEMOA’s coastal countries are already urban dwellers (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo). With some 4.7 million inhabitants, Abidjan is by far the largest urban agglomeration in the UEMOA area, followed by Dakar (3.1 million), Bamako (2.8 million) and Ouagadougou (2.3 million). On the other hand, the Union’s landlocked countries (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) are generally less urbanised. At only 17%, Niger remains one of the least urbanised countries in the world, comparable with Burundi and Eritrea. However, even in these landlocked countries, an urban transition is very much underway and a dense network of small and medium-sized agglomerations is rapidly growing. For example, 51 out of 68 agglomerations in Niger have less than 30 000 inhabitants. Strengthening the links between the rural sector and small- and medium-sized cities helps develop employment opportunities outside of major cities and build diversified and vibrant local economies. In Mali, for example, communes along the Niger River show the highest employment diversification. Growing rural population densities are blurring the line between rural and urban.