Urban populations in Africa have increased rapidly in recent years. The increase brings opportunities and challenges as these cities struggle to adapt as more residents compete for urban resources stretched to the limit. However, the increase in population also creates new opportunities on a fiscal, technological and social level.
Analysis of the populations of the largest African cities and their socio-economic roles
Lagos, Nigeria-21 million
Lagos City in Lagos State is Nigeria’s largest city and economic capital, located along the Atlantic Ocean. According to Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung (HBS) Foundation research, it is the 7th fastest growing city in the world, with a population of 21 million, according to a 2014 report by the National Population Commission of Nigeria. The Borgen Project reports an annual growth of 2 to 3 percent of Nigeria’s population. Unlike other states that depend on oil revenues, Lagos City’s economy is diversified into the manufacturing, transportation, construction, service, wholesale and retail sectors. The state covers 0.4% of the country’s territorial land and is the smallest division in the country. Yet it accounts for more than 60 percent of the nation’s industrial and commercial enterprises, according to research by Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung Foundation. A 2015 report by The Economist states that Lagos state generates $ 90 billion in goods and services annually. If it were a country, the economy of Lagos State would be Number 7 in Africa, making it larger than that of Kenya, Cote d Ivoire and Ghana. Although Lagos City is prosperous, a 2012 Financial Times survey reported that two-thirds of the population were slum dwellers. Crime is also an issue in the city, and the United States Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) gives it a critical crime rating. Kidnappings, extortion, carjacks, assaults, rapes, armed robberies and burglaries are common in the city.
Cairo, Egypt – 20.4 million
Cairo is the largest city and capital of Egypt. It has been heralded as the cradle of civilization and in the Middle East, is also the largest city and with its metropolis has a population of over 20.4 million. According to a 2014 Population Reference Bureau report, the country’s population is growing at a rate of 2.6 percent annually. Cairo is the economic center of Egypt with two-thirds of the country’s gross domestic product generated in the Greater City area, according to city data. Textile and food processing, iron and steel production, consumer productions, are some of the sectors that create jobs in the city. Cairo is also a vibrant center of tourism, commerce, finance and government services. Since the January 2011 revolution, economic growth has been negatively affected, with rising prices for food and medicine and an increase in unemployment. Crime is also a problem in Cairo, with OSAC rating it high. According to UN data, the Cairo area, with 8 overpopulated informal settlements, has large populations living below the international poverty line of less than $ 2 per day. In those settlements, education levels are low, malnutrition is high, health problems are poor, and there are many diseases among children.
Kinshasa, DR Congo – 13.3 million
Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the largest city in the country. It is located next to the Congo River and is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, according to CNN. The population of Kinshasa is estimated by various sources from 10 million to 13.3 million. The World Bank reports that DRC’s population as 74.88 million. According to the 2015 United Nations (UN) Urban Population Growth Report, Kinshasa’s population grew at a rate of 9.2 percent. Although the country is rich in minerals, 64 percent of the population lives below the poverty line according to FINCA International. In addition to minerals, the main sectors supporting Kinshasa’s economy are gas, oil, agriculture and timber. But due to corruption and permanent conflicts, most of the population does not benefit. Crime levels are rated as critical by OSAC with one being likely to be a victim of street gangs, pickpockets or house burglars.
Luanda, Angola – 6.5 million
Luanda is the capital of Angola and the largest city in the country. The population of the city was recorded as 6.5 million according to preliminary data in 2014, but the number was revised to 6.94 million according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). According to a report by the Swedish Embassy, Luanda has the highest annual population growth rate in Africa and by 2030 will have 9 million inhabitants. The city is home to the country’s busiest seaport off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The Seaport is a gateway to the export of petroleum, diamonds, iron ore and fish products, Angola has in bulk. It is also used for the import of iron, steel, machinery, flour and coal. Wealth from the mining and oil sectors has catalyzed tremendous growth in construction in Luanda, such as high-rise offices and upscale homes. The Banking, Financial, Telecommunications and tourism sectors are also booming in Luanda. But due to the shortage of hotel facilities in the Capital, hotel and rental charges are very high. Among the main capitals of the world, Luanda has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the most expensive cities to live in. Crime levels in Luanda are classified as critical by OSAC, with ongoing threats from gangs and cybercriminals. Poverty is high in Luanda with millions in slums. About 55 percent of Angolans live on less than one US dollar a day.
Nairobi, Kenya – 3.5 million people
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and the largest city in the country. It has an estimated population of about 3.5 million residents of whom 60 percent live in slum poverty according to a 2014 World Policy Report. Including suburbs, it has an estimated population of 6.54 million according to the World Population Review. Nairobi is the only city in the world near a wildlife sanctuary, the Nairobi National Park. It is a vibrant trade, technology, manufacturing, industrial and financial hub for East and central Africa. As such, Nairobi contributes 60 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product, or of the country’s wealth. Major airlines and charter companies operate out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, opening up East Africa to the rest of the world. Crime levels in Nairobi are classified as critical by OSAC with robberies, burglaries, carjacks and street crimes. Crime levels are high in slums such as Kibera and Mathare, where incomes are low. The slums are classified as the largest in Africa.
Mogadishu, Somalia – 2.1 million people
Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia and the largest city in the country. Due to the fact that it is one of the world’s most dangerous cities, no meaningful census has been held there. It is estimated that the population has about 1.4 million people according to the World Population Review. A survey by Demografia Consultancy from the US, reports the population in Mogadishu at about 2.1 million, and is growing at a rate of 6.9 percent annually. Other estimates from TBN place the population at 1.5 to 3 million. Also according to TBN, 43 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty in this 640 square mile city. A 2002 UNDP / World Bank survey reports that 73 percent of the population lives on less than $ 2 a day. Regardless of these challenges, Mogadishu is the administrative and economic center of Somalia, with help from abroad to fund projects to boost this war-torn economy. First Somali Bank was the first bank established in the country after many years in 2013 to serve the people there.
Abidjan, Ivory Coast-4.707 million
The 818 square mile Abidjan city is the economic capital of Ivory Coast. It has an estimated population of about 4.707 million people as at 2014, representing 20 percent of the country’s population. A study by the University of Ontario – Institute of Technology (UOIT) reports that the population of Abidjan is growing by 2.83 percent annually. The city has a population density of 8578 per square kilometer. Abidjan is the center of industrialization and urbanization of Ivory Coast. The city accounts for 18 percent of National Employment, 52 percent of secondary and tertiary urban employment, and 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to a study by University College London. In addition to Cocoa, oil and natural gas sectors are other major economic investors, and Abidjan has a refinery that processes crude oil. The extracted petroleum is then exported or used to process oil products locally. Still, Abidjan struggles with children roaming the city without parents and caregivers due to past conflicts.
Alexandria, Egypt – 4.7 million
Alexandria is a 115.8 square mile historic Mediterranean port and beach city in Egypt, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the great. It is the second largest city in the country with a population of about 4.7 million people, according to Egypt’s Central Office for public mobilization and Statistics. Annually, the estimated population of Alexandria grows by 1.7 percent according to Professor Shahira Sharaf El Din, of Pharos University, Alexandria. The city contributes US $ 46 billion annually to the Egyptian economy according to UOIT. The economy is largely anchored by Tourism and is therefore called The Pearl of the Mediterranean. Nearly half of Egypt’s industrial activity is located in and around Alexandria, making the city a major consumer of water. In the ten years leading up to 2011, there was a 50 percent increase in demand for water in the city. Agriculture, growing population and rapid urbanization are other factors that increase water needs in Alexandria, according to a report by the French Development Agency. The city is run by a governor appointed by the president. Since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, there has been increased crime and terrorist threats in Alexandria and in other parts of the country.
Addis Abeba, Ethiopië – 3,4 miljoen
Het 540 vierkante kilometer stedelijke gebied van Addis Abeba is de hoofdstad en de commerciële hub van Ethiopië. Het heeft een populatie van 3.4 miljoen volgens het 2014-rapport van het Centraal Statistisch Agentschap van het land. In 2014 meldde Bloomberg dat de stadsontwikkeling naar verwachting 8.1 miljoen zal bereiken, door 2040. Het gemiddelde jaarlijkse bruto binnenlands product van Addis Abeba volgens Lloyd City Risk Index is $ 32.04 miljoen en groei jaarlijks met het gemiddelde percentage 12.18 procent. De stad is een industriële en productiehub die volgens Focus Africa 4 procent bijdraagt aan de economie van het land. In Addis Abeba wordt ook een bouwhausse geloofd met hoogbouwlocaties verspreid over de hoofdstad. In 2015 werd de eerste moderne stedelijke spoorwegdienst gefinancierd, gebouwd voor een bedrag van $ 470 miljoen, via financiering van de Exim Bank of China. Deze treindienst is de eerste in zijn soort in Sub-Sahara Afrika. De wapens zijn nog steeds hoog en er zijn veel daklozen in de hoofdstad of in sloppenwijken. Naar schatting in Ethiopië woont 80 procent van de stadsbewoners in sloppenwijken. Misdaad niveaus zijn relatief laag in de hoofdstad als gevolg van de aanwezigheid van politie sommigen in gewone kleding. Maar kleine fouten zoals zakkenrollerij of handtassen vinden plaats. Deze incidenten komen vaak voor wanneer er veel voetballers zijn zoals openluchtmarkten volgens OSAC.
Johannesburg, Zuid-Afrika – 4,4 miljoen
Johannesburg is de grootste stad in Zuid-Afrika en de hoofdstad van Gauteng, de rijkste provincie van het land. Het heeft een populatie van 4.434 miljoen volgens een 2011-rapport van Statistics South Africa. Van 2001 tot 2011 toen de census werd gedaan, steeg de bevolking met 3.18 procent. Johannesburg genereert 17 procent van de welvaart van Zuid-Afrika en is de 27e grootste stedelijke economie ter wereld, volgens het Department of Economic Development Johannesburg. De stad is een levend centrum van productie-, winkel-, technologie-, mode – en dienstensectoren zoals hotels. Johannesburg is ook een continentaal financieel knooppunt voor grote wereldbanken en Afrika ‘ s grootste voorraad in Sandton. Armoede is ook wijdverbreid in de stad met meer dan een miljoen mensen die in de sloppenwijken van de stad wonen. Zulke omstandigheden hebben ervaren verzorgd dat Johannesburg een van de meest gevaarlijke steden ter wereld is, in termen van misdaad en moord. Jaarlijks zijn er onbekend 28.2-moorden per 100.000-volk volgens Africa Check 2014 / 2015-rapport.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – 4.36 million
The 565 square kilometer Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the largest port city in East Africa, and has a population of about 4.36 million inhabitants according to the 2012 country census. These account for 10 percent of the Tanzanian population, excluding Zanzibar, according to a UNFPA 2013 report. According to a World Bank report, 70 percent of Dar es Salaam residents live in informal, unplanned settlements of about a dollar a day. The settlements do not have good roads, water, toilets and sanitation are poor. Yet Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s Center for industry, education and economy. This former capital according to UN Habitat generates 70 percent of the national gross domestic product. As an oceanfront city, new external investment is focused on port expansion. In 2015, the World Bank signed a $ 565 million deal to double the port’s capacity by 2020 according to Reuters. That way, Dar Es Salaam can make an annual profit of $ 2 billion. However, the city has a problem with crimes such as robberies, hand-to-hand interventions, pickpocketing, armed robberies and burglaries, according to the country reports.
Casablanca, Morocco – 4.3 million
Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco although the capital of the country is Rabat. This port city has a population of about 4.3 million people according to Nations online. It is the main industrial, economic, trade and fiscal Center for Morocco. The Port of Casablanca is the largest in North Africa and one of the largest man-made ports in the world. According to Euromonitor International, the workforce in Casablanca is better educated than the rest of the country. 12 percent of the population in Casablanca has more than 15 years old, higher education, compared to 8.1 percent, in the rest of the country. Poverty reigns in the slums on the outskirts of the city. There are about 700,000 to one million people living in these slums without clean water and basic utilities. In the slums, drug trafficking, prostitution and Islamic radicalization threaten the tranquility of Casablanca as a whole.
Accra, Ghana – 4.1 million
Accra is the capital of Ghana and the largest city in Ghana. It has a population estimated at 4.1 million, according to a 2013 report by Ghana’s Financial Intelligence Center. The statistical services of Ghana, 2012 reports the growth rate of Accra’s population from 2000 to 2010 as 3.1 percent. Accra is the country’s main commercial, manufacturing, technology, transportation, innovation and communications hub. It is also the gateway to the world through Kotoko International Airport, the country’s largest airport. The city’s formal and informal economy contributes about $ 3 billion to the country’s economy, equivalent to 10 percent of Ghana’s gross domestic product, according to Next city’s report. Accra is largely safe, but cases of robberies on beaches and crowded places and pickpocketing in markets are reported.
Durban, South Africa – 3.4 million
Durban is a port city in the Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa. It is the third largest city in the country after Cape Town and Johannesburg, and also has the largest port in Africa. Durban and its metropolitan population is 3.4 million according to Durban Experience. According to Statistics South Africa, from 2001 to 2011, the average annual growth rate of population in the city was 1.13 percent. As a port city, Durban handles the most cargo than the ports in other South Africa. That contributes 20 percent of its gross domestic product and 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the nation, according to the Durban Government Study. Manufacturing, agribusiness, tourism and technology are other avenues that anchor the economy of this city. Durban has also distinguished itself as a global financial centre attractive to international investors. Although the city is located in the prosperous province of Kwazulu Natal, 3 million people live below the poverty line. Also, Crime spills over from the slums to cities, hotels and beaches.
Kano, Nigeria – 2.8 million
Kano is the capital of Kano State in Northern Nigeria, with a population of 2.8 million people, according to the 2006 census. It is the second largest city in the country by population after Lagos. Annually, the population grows by about 3.5 percent, according to a 2013 report from Kano State Government Investor’s Handbook. Kano is the economic hub of Northern Nigeria, with an average annual gross domestic product of $ 29.38 billion, according to Lloyd’s 2015 City Risk Index. Kano city acts as a regional trade center serving a market of over 300 million people, in Northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Sahel / North Africa, according to a 2013 Kano state government report. The most pronounced threat in Kano comes from terrorist attacks prominent in the North and perpetrated by Boko Haram. These attacks occur on public holidays, Market Days, public and religious holidays. A report commissioned by the governor of Kano in 2012 attributed poor governance, poverty and unregulated migration to the problem of insecurity in Kano City.
Centuries-old infrastructure stretching to the end by populations in major African cities
Adapting to more and more people in urban areas remains the biggest challenge for African cities. That’s because in some cities the existing infrastructure dates back to European colonial times on the continent. As a result, the continuous increase in population in these cities puts pressure on infrastructure and reduces the quality of living conditions. That effect exposes these populations to poor living conditions and susceptibility to future diseases and vices.
Largest cities in Africa by population
1 Lagos, Nigeria 21.0 million people
2 Cairo, Egypt 20.4 million people
3 Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo 13.3 million people
4 Luanda, Angola 6.5 million people
5 Nairobi, Kenya 6.5 million people
6 Mogadishu, Somalia 6.0 million people
7 Abidjan, Ivory Coast 4.7 million people
8 Alexandria, Egypt 4.7 million people
9 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 4.6 million people
10 Johannesburg, South Africa 4.4 million people
11 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 4.4 million people
12 Casablanca, Morocco 4.3 million people
13 Accra, Ghana 4.1 million people
14 Durban, South Africa 3.4 million people
15 Kano, Nigeria 2.8 million people