UCR Research

The UCR team is involved in applied research projects for local governments, actors in development cooperation and international organisations. With a focus on quantitative research techniques, UCR empirically addresses globalisation and urbanisation through the analysis of urban economic development.

Extensive research is conducted on different aspects of competitiveness and resilience of cities to identify the factors which determine the competitiveness and resilience of cities around the world. UCR research furthermore focuses on policy analysis to identify and suggest effective evidence-based policy instruments that can make cities economically more competitive and resilient to external shocks.

UCR has collaborated with several organisations including:                   

  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Oxford Economics
  • African Development Bank
  • OECD Development Centre
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Municipality of Rotterdam
  • German Development Cooperation (GIZ)

And contributed to or developed global reports and documents including:

  • State of African Cities 2018: The Geography of African Investment
  • The African Economic Outlook 2016
  • Happiness and the city: the case of Rotterdam

The State of African Cities 2018: The Geography of African Investment. IHS/Erasmus University Rotterdam, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN- Habitat) and the African Development Bank

The aim of The State of African Cities 2018: The Geography of African Investment report is to contribute to the development of policies that can turn African cities into more attractive, competitive and resilient foreign direct investment (FDI) destinations. Attracting global FDI is highly competitive and crosses various geographic scales. Regional cooperation by cities and nations is therefore crucial. FDI, however, is not a panacea since it has both positive and negative effects. Careful choices need to be made by cities in their pursuit of FDI if it is to lead to inclusive economic growth. This report aims to provide guidance on these choices and to facilitate the understanding of the complexity of global investment in Africa. This project was coordinated and prepared by former UCR head Prof. Ronald Wall with the research assistance of Rupinder Kaur and Dorcas Nthoki.

The African Economic Outlook 2016: Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation

The African Economic Outlook 2016 is a result of collaboration between the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme.

The African Economic Outlook is an annual report analysing economic, social and political conditions across the African continent. The 15th edition focuses on Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation and was released in May 2016. Prof. Ronald Wall, former head of UCR, was among the international experts who contributed to Part II of the document, “Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation”. Annex 7.A1 of the report was prepared by Prof. Ronald Wall with research assistance by Dorcas Nthoki, Marina Salimgareeva and Taslim Alade.

The analysis conducted by UCR refers to the topic of global financial integration of African cities represented by the flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the region. The research examined factors that attract FDI across different economic sectors and regions in Africa and the world. An understanding of the conditions that attract and maintain FDI flows is crucial in a situation of insufficient domestic capital for development of African urban economies and sheds light on region-specific conditions that hinder the integration of Africa into global value chains. This analysis forms part of UN-Habitat’s State of African Cities Report 2017, which examines the possibilities of catalysing urban development in Africa facilitated by FDI.