Urban-regional economies are developing in highly variegated, uneven ways globally. In economic geography, studies of urban-regional development emphasize the prospects for innovative, globally-competitive industrial sectors to emerge and enhance a city-region’s exchange value in global markets. This focus reflects a productivist bias that may fail to address issues related to the use-value of, or living conditions associated with urban transitions. Such concerns are particularly significant in the Global South where urbanization has often not led to socioeconomic transformations that benefit the majority of urban residents. To examine the relationships between a city’s exchange and use value, this paper argues for a sociotechnical systems approach that conceptualizes cities as constituted by interdependent or coupled regimes related to production, consumption, and infrastructure that stabilize urban-regional economies and determine development pathways. The framework is deployed empirically to examine the case of Nairobi, Kenya – a rapidly growing urban-regional economy characterized by high rates of inward foreign direct investment, principally in speculative real estate ventures in the consumption regime. Domestic manufacturing industries (the production regime) are stagnating, struggling to compete against imports, and failing to generate widespread formal employment and raise tax revenues for the infrastructure regime. The net result is a city characterized by fragmented or splintered regimes that create highly uneven, exclusionary development outcomes. These dynamics and findings are analyzed in relation to a similar study of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in order to demonstrate the comparative potential of this conceptual approach. The paper concludes with a call for economic geographers to better account for the use-value of urban-regional economies such that development concerns beyond production become more central to our analyses.