It is difficult to answer questions about how Nigeria can and should achieve sustainable economic, social and political growth. This column takes a look at well known development economic theories and applies them to the unique Nigerian context.


The Dilemma of Informal Settlements in Nigeria

Martha Sambe

Martha Sambe

Martha is a graduate of Development Economics and International Cooperation. She enjoys researching topics in development, sociology, and religion.

We live in an age where more than half of the world’s population live in cities, and chances are, you are reading this article in a city. Except you were born there, or in another city, you (or your parents) likely migrated from a small town or a rural area. 

This move, termed urban migration, has strong links to economic growth. Migrants benefit from greater access to social services and infrastructure, as well as the network economies provided by cities. Economies, especially those making the transition from agriculture to industry, also stand to benefit. For an economy in transition, urban migration means the clustering of cheap, available labour. In nearly all countries, urban migration boosts productivity, reduces inequality, and accelerates development. 

That being said, urban migration might seem rosy, especially to migrants and emerging economies, but it is not without its problems. 


More People, More Problems

Unfortunately, as Lagos State has discovered, cities cannot experience a continuous influx of migrants without significant challenges, particularly when planning has been poorly done, or not at all. One of such challenges is the rise in informal settlements or slums. These are, according to the OECD, “unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations (unauthorised housing).”

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