Cities generally function as sources of economic development and human progress. One of the puzzles about Africa’s urbanization is that it has not been accompanied by greater economic dynamism. The paper considers the distinctive development trajec- tory of African urban economies. It considers the applicability of the argument that cities are drivers of economic growth, and the idea that cities develop more complex, higher-value functions over time. It examines the recent revival of African economies, and asks whether the fashionable idea of enhanced international integration through cross-border collaboration might facilitate greater urban prosperity.