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THE STATE OF EAST AFRICA REPORT SERIES

Where are East Africans Living?

East Africa’s growing urban population
East Africa continues to urbanize rapidly. According to the Kenya’s 2009 census, 32 per cent of Kenya’s population lived in urban areas, almost double the 18 per cent in 1990v. In Tanzania, the urban population grew from 19 per cent in 1990 to almost 30 per cent of the total population according to the 2012 census data vi. Uganda’s urban population made up over 18 per cent of the country’s total, up from 11 per cent in 1990 vii. Rwanda’s urban population was estimated at almost 15 per cent in mid-2011 viii. Interestingly, this is lower than the 16 per cent in 2006 and the 19 per cent that was projected for 2010 by the UN’s World Urbanization Prospects ix. In the absence of more recent census data, it is difficult to tell whether Burundi’s urbanization rate has changed since it was estimated at 11 per cent in 2010.

The rate of urbanization across East Africa is growing at between 4.9 per cent in Burundi and about 4.2 per cent for Kenya x. At these growth rates, the number of people living in East Africa’s cities will double in the next 16 years. Most of them will probably end up in the region’s unplanned settlements in and around its cities and towns.