Addis Ababa: A Policy Narrative

This paper examine the urban development of Addis Ababa from its Imperial past to the present day


The authors examine the urban development of Addis Ababa from its Imperial past to the present day. They note that urbanisation in Ethiopia is largely driven by the growth of Addis Ababa, although secondary cities across the country are now starting to urbanise rapidly (including Awassa, Bahir Dar, Mekelle and Adama). The risk facing the government is that Addis Ababa becomes excessively large, to the extent that other specialised productive clusters in cities across Ethiopia do not emerge. Addis Ababa also faces challenges in terms of lack of technical expertise for urban planning, accountability of urban governance to citizens, and the rapid growth of informality.

The authors’ analysis covers both the spatial development of the city as well as its economic development. Emphasis is given to how different urban policies have influenced urbanization, particularly in terms of the city’s livability. To carry out this analysis, they use a wide range of sources including satellite data, historical maps, and geo-referenced economic data.

This paper is a part of a Global Research Program on Spatial Development of Cities, funded by the Multi Donor Trust Fund on Sustainable Urbanization of the World Bank and supported by the UK Department for International Development.


Patricia Jones, Simon Franklin, Miska Daredia, Siske Zenebe (2016). Addis Ababa: A Policy Narrative. World Bank, Washington, DC

Addis Ababa- A Policy Narrative

Published 1 March 2016