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Building Urban Economic Resilience in Africa during and after COVID-19

The world’s ability to swiftly and adequately recover from the impacts of the pandemic heavily depends on the capacity of cities and local governments. Cities are the backbone of the world’s recovery from the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They occupy just 2 per cent of the earth’s landmass, but house more than 50 per cent of the world’s population, generate 70 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for 90 per cent of the globally reported COVID-19 cases.

Global urban economic resilience project

In light of this, all five regional commissions of the United Nations, with the technical support of UN-Habitat and the United Nations Capital Development Fund, are jointly implementing a new project to strengthen the capacity of local governments in 16 cities around the world for economic and financial recovery in the context of COVID-19 and beyond. The project aims to support local governments in designing, implementing and monitoring sustainable, resilient and inclusive COVID-19 economic responses, recovery packages and rebuilding plans.

In Africa, three cities - Accra, Harare and Yaoundé - are being supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to develop and implement their COVID-19 economic recovery and resilience plans. The project delivery is informed by detailed data collection on several aspects of local economic resilience to inform the policies and programmes designed by the three cities to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on their economies.

Urban Economic Recovery and Resilience Planning

The three-phase project started with a rapid situation assessment of each city which was followed by a detailed diagnostic to gain a deeper understanding of the economic impacts of the pandemic with a view on strengthening the capacity of local governments to effectively withstand and recover from COVID-19 and other broad-based economic shocks to occur in the future. The detailed diagnostic findings from each city will soon be published by the ECA in a series of city-level reports.

The insights gained from the diagnostic process have informed a forthcoming ECA regional policy brief on building urban economic resilience during and after COVID-19 in Africa. The contents of the policy brief will inform an e-learning course and a global policy dialogue on urban economic recovery and resilience. These activities will ensure that regional knowledge gained by the project partners on this issue is shared with global stakeholders.

In the final phase, the outcomes of the diagnostic study will inform the drafting of the cities’ Economic Recovery and Resilience Plans (ERRPs) in line with the respective country’s national development plans, economic aspirations, financial priorities and international obligations.

Benefits for participating cities

  • Regional and global showcasing of the experiences, practices and innovation of the city
  • Learning and insights from regional and global experiences from other cities and local authorities
  • Engagement and peer-learning through dialogue with other local authorities in the region and globally
  • Technical support towards the preparation of an Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan for the city
  • Knowledge and evidence-based information on economic and financial dimensions of COVID-19 in the city as a basis for policy and decision-making

Project publications

Global target cities (in alphabetical order by country name)

  • Tirana, Albania,
  • Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • Alexandria, Egypt
  • Suva, Fiji
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Pune, India
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait,
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Beirut, Lebanon
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • Lima, Peru 
  • Kharkiv, Ukraine
  • Hoi An, Viet Nam
  • Harare, Zimbabwe

Implementing UN entities

The ECA is proud to be co-leading the implementation of the project with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).  Five additional United Nations (UN) partners are working closely with the ECA and ECE to support the project’s implementation around the world. They are:

  • UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC);
  • UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP);
  • UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA);
  • United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF); and
  • United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat).

Video gallery

Mr. Moses Quarshie, Business Development Manager at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the focal person for the city’s participation in the Urban Economic Resilience Project, outlines his city’s priorities for the recovery and rebuilding of Accra after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Jackson Murimi, City of Harare’s Principal Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and focal person for the Urban Economic Resilience Project, talks about his city’s response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and priorities for rebuilding efforts.

More details

Further information can be found on the global project website or by contacting Marios Pournaris ( and/or Alexander Curtis ( at the ECA’s Urbanization Section (

Last updated: 7 September