agglomeration, Cities, SEZ

A few good posts: New cities, place-dependent output and SEZs in Africa

I came across three good blog posts on economic geography today and would like to recommend the further reading. 
At the Marginal Revolution blog Alex Tabarrok linked to a new Credit Suisse report, Opportunities in an urbanizing world. He highlights the close association between US state level GDP and the urbanization rate and shows that urban dwellers generate much lower levels of CO2 emissions per GDP per capita:
At the Economist’s Free exchange blog Ryan Avent writes that modern economic growth is inextricably linked to agglomeration. He argues that the driving forces are rural-urban migration and the idea generating capacity of cities (the city as workshop). He finishes up with the following:

“…you can make people wealthy by making places wealthy OR by moving people to wealthy places. It is a very funny (and not funny ha ha) characteristic of economics, that it seems to focus overwhelmingly—indeed, almost exclusively—on trying to figure out the former, even though the historical record of success is much greater for the latter”.

This ties in with a Let’s talk development blog by the World Bank’s chief economist on SEZs in Africa. Policymakers have recently launched a new wave of spatially targeted initiatives, but caution is required. Earlier initiatives failed due to to poor governance, a lack of institutional framework and political commitment, weak implementation capacity, and a lack of proper monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The blog goes on to argue that Africa needs a new SEZ strategy that builds on a number of thrusts:
  • Stronger stakeholder ownership.
  • Better business environment inside the zone.
  • Starting small.
  • Flexibility and autonomy at local level.
  • Technology transfer and skills training.
  • Better linkages with the local economy.
  • Clear objectives with sound benchmarking and competition.

These could be criteria for many of the local SEZ initiatives recently published by the DTI. Is it sensible to try to make the economy grow at Coega, or should more people move to Gauteng? Can we tick this list for a fuel cell cluster in the North West?


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