Africa: Agriculture, Structural Change and the Urban Imperative | Wilson Center
5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Africa: Agriculture, Structural Change and the Urban Imperative

Event Co-sponsors


One of the foundations of development economics is the well-established proposition that the shift of capital, human and natural resources from low to high productivity uses is the key driver of economic growth.  Virtually all developing economies that have transformed themselves from low- to middle- and upper-income status have undergone profound changes in both their sectoral and spatial configurations. 

Structural change is crucial for Africa’s future. The continent needs more high value-added activities ranging from agro-processing and manufacturing to tradable services in order to create jobs and sustain growth.  Urbanization is an essential component of that process by providing market demand and remittances for the rural economy; fostering entrepreneurship, economic modernization and diversification; offering a deeper labor market, higher income earning opportunity, and better access to services; and, creating the practical necessity for effective local governance and administration.

A panel of experts will examine the inter-related actions and processes that constitute structural change, the role that agriculture must play, the factors that make change an imperative, and the role that off-farm economic activity and policy - and spatial and urban processes and policies - will necessarily have to play to achieve the desired transformation.


  • Steven Haggblade

    Professor of International Development, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University
  • Christine Kessides

    Urban Practice Manager, World Bank
  • Bruno Losch

    Research Director, Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)
  • John Mellor

    President, John Mellor Associates, Inc., and Former Chief Economist, USAID
  • William Cobbett

    Manager, Cities Alliance