Migration, Growth and Secondary Towns in Tanzania

9 December 2018

This report delves into the significance of secondary towns, which enable social and economic mobility in rural populations by bridging the gap between semi-subsistence agriculture and urban capitalism.

This report explores the changing landscape of urbanisation in Africa, to highlight the growth of small towns and recognise the important role it has played in the process.

Urbanisation in Africa has been characterised by a notable shift away from the dominance of mega-cities, and towards the emergence and growth of small towns. While Africa’s urbanisation rate is expected to increase from 41 percent in 2015 to 59 percent by 2050, the narrative surrounding this urbanisation often focuses on mega-cities like Lagos and Cairo. However, recent data and research paints a different picture.

This report uses examples from Tanzania and West Africa to highlight the prominence of small towns. In Tanzania, for example, the urban population in the city of Dar es Salaam has remained relatively stable despite its substantial growth. In comparison, secondary towns are experiencing significant expansion. Contrary to the common belief that larger cities drive growth, the research presented suggests that secondary towns play a crucial role in fostering more balanced development by facilitating trade and rural-urban migration linkages. This could have a significant impact on poverty reduction and economic growth.

To further understand the dynamics at play, the report analyses data from the Kagera region in Tanzania, and highlights the challenges and opportunities that migrants face as they move from rural areas to urban locations. It emphasises the critical role of the first move in shaping migrants’ economic outcomes, and offers insights on how to promote inclusive growth through improved infrastructure and targeted development strategies in secondary towns.

This report was featured as a chapter in “People on the Move: Advancing the Discourse on Migration & Jobs“- a joint report co-authored by the global partners of JustJobs Network.