Urbanization in Nigeria: Problems and Solutions


According to Oxford Dictionary, Urbanization is the situation of having lots of towns, streets, factories E.t.c. rather than the country side. Furthermore, urbanization is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of rural migration and even suburban concentration into cities, particularly the very large ones. The U.N projected that half of the world’s Population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008 and that 64.1% and 85.9% of developing and developed the world respectively will be urbanized by 2050. A country is said to be urbanized when over 50% of its population lives in urban places, Great Britain and some European countries are among the first countries to become urbanized.

Types of Urbanization

  1. Re-urbanization: Development of activities to increase residential population densities within the existing built up area of a city this may include the re-development of vacant land and the refurbishment of housing and the development of the new business enterprise.
  2. Suburbanization: an Outward growth of towns and cities to engulf surrounding villages and rural areas. This may result from the out-migration of the population from the inn or urban area to the suburb or from inward rural-urban movement.
  3. Counter-urbanization: Movement of population away from inn or urban areas to a new town, a new estate, a commuter town or a village on the edge or just beyond the city limits or rural-urban fringe

Urbanization in Nigeria

Spurred by the oil boom prosperity of the 1970s and the massive improvements in roads and the availability of vehicles, Nigeria since independence has become an increasingly urbanized and urban oriented society. In the 1970s, Nigeria had possibly the fastest urbanization growth rate in the world as a result of the great influx of people into urban areas, in 1986; the growth rate was estimated to be close to 6% per year more than twice that of the rural population. Between 1970 and 1980, the population of Nigerians living in Urban areas was estimated to have grown from 16 to more than 20% and by 2010, the urban population was expected to be more than 40% at the nation’s total population. Although Nigeria did not have the highest population or urban population in sub-Saharan Africa. It had larger cities and the highest total urban population of any sub-Saharan African country.

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Factors Responsible For Urbanization or Growth of Settlement

  1. Accessibility
  2. Economic activities
  3. Administration
  4. Provision of social amenities
  5. Nature of soils
  6. Absence of disaster
  7. Relief
  8. Climate

Urbanization could also be characterized by large densely populated settlement with socially heterogeneous people who do not know one another very well, coming from different languages under a nucleated settlement. They are made up of many buildings with thousands of settlements. There are various types of settlement which constitute to urbanization or urbanized settlement and they include towns, city, and conurbation and mega polis.

Functions of Urbanization

  1. Industrial function: owing to the prescience of industries, urban centers are involved in the manufacturing finished goods.
  2. Commercial function: the prescience of markets and banks enable urban dwellers to engage in commercial activities.
  3. Administrative function: most urban centers are the seat of government headquarters. Hence, the need to perform the administrative jobs.
  4. Sociocultural function: urban settlements are centers for the establishment of universities, polytechnics, schools, churches, mosques, and hotels.
  5. Mining function: where minerals are present in some towns, the inhabitants tend to perform mining activities.
  6. Residential function: owing to the large concentration of people in the urban settlement, the needs, therefore, arise to build residential houses to cope with the ever increasing population.

Urban Problems in Nigeria:

  1. Rural depopulation: the high rate of rural-urban migration which is a feature of population movement leads to rural depopulation in many areas. Consequently, physical resources which abound in many rural communities are underutilized because of labor deficiency both in size and quality. As a result, the dependency burden of children and old age population is being sustained by farmers.
  2. Increased demand for goods and services: as a result of the high influx of people into urban areas, there will be an increase in demand for goods and services to satisfy their wants.
  3. Increased demand for social amenities: social amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, E.t.c. will be in high demand when people migrate to urban areas.
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  1. Regional reconstructing: the new spatial organization involves expanding markets, improved communication and production technologies and most significantly the rise of the multinational corporations. A new agglomeration tendencies for metropolitan areas that function as advanced service centers, with cooperative headquarters centers, banks, and the similar institution as well as this transformation as both promote division of labor across a network of places and centralizes services activities in particular metropolitan areas.
  2. Deconcentration: the key to this is the changing role of distance in determining the social organization of space. Both the producers and consumers space will be much less constrained by the geographical limitations and transport cost of producer activities resulting in greater locational flexibility for both firms and households. Smaller communities should not be seen as off-centre sites for production activities; rather those with requisite amenities should attract a broad mix of residents seeking white-collar employments in firms.


Ayeni, M.A.O. (1968), “Patterns, processes, and problems of urban development”. Oguntoyinbo, J.S (Ed), the geography of Nigerian development. Ibadan. Heinemann Educational Books (Nig.) plc. Pp 190-210

Dawam, P.D., and Ebehikalu, O.N (2007), “The impact of urbanization on Nigeria Environment”, Proceedings, 49th Annual Conference, Association of Nigeria Geographers. University of Abuja. Pp 198-207.

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