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OECD Urban Policy Reviews: Kazakhstan

image of OECD Urban Policy Reviews: Kazakhstan

Urbanisation is an important condition for economic development, but must be managed effectively if cities are to realise their potential as engines of national growth. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of Kazakhstan’s urban policies in terms of economic, social and environmental impact. It analyses how national spatial planning for urban regions, along with specific sectoral policies, affect urban development directly and indirectly. It also looks at specific issues such as housing, public utilities, urban transport, and migration. The review assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of current urban governance arrangements, and makes recommendations for steps Kazakhstan can take to develop an attractive and well-managed system of large and medium-sized cities that can help it achieve its development objectives.

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Assessment and recommendations

After a decade of urban population decline following independence in 1991, Kazakhstan began urbanising, although at a moderate pace. As urbanisation progresses, the country’s economic performance will be more tightly linked to the functioning of its cities and its urban governance system. Until 2015, Kazakhstan’s average annual economic growth rate was 8%, largely boosted by its extractive industry (oil and gas). Since falling oil prices are likely to reduce the opportunities for economic growth, the urbanisation process will be essential for developing a more balanced economic model. The importance of cities for GDP has been growing consistently over the last five years. In 2015, Almaty City and Astana accounted for about 15% of the country’s population, and produced one-third of national GDP, due to the concentration of high added-value activities. “Getting cities right” can provide a supportive environment for firms, entrepreneurs and institutions to innovate. Cities, under the right conditions, can increase the flow of ideas, facilitate the sharing of localised knowledge and enable innovation, which is a major drive for economic growth.

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