Africa’s 7 Megacities: The Catalysts

It is projected that by 2016, over 500 million Africans will live in urban centres, and the number of cities with more than 1 million people is expected to reach 65, compared to 52 in 2011. This is already on par with Europe and higher than India and North America. With 40 percent of its population living in cities, Africa is more urbanized than India (30 percent) and nearly as urbanized as China (45 percent).

Africa is known as the “Developing Continent” and boasts seven growing megacities Nairobi, Johannesburg-Pretoria, Lagos, Kinshasa-Brazzavile, Cairo, Accra and Khartum. Some of the greatest deserts, beaches, tropical rainforest, and mountain ranges in the world are in Africa and beckon the adventure tourist to come visit, explore and enjoy.

The Growth Catalysts

One might be forced to ask the question “Why the sudden interest in Africa?” Most of the cities listed here are treasure-troves of the World’s Natural Resources consisting:

  • 90% of the world’s Platinum
  • 70% of the world’s Cotton
  • Half of the world’s gold
  • Crude oil in the Gulf of Guinea
  • 30% of the world’s diamonds
  • Young, growing urbanised population
  • And more interestingly, only 20% of Africa’s extractable natural resources have yet been discovered.

Such high growth opportunities created enormous business opportunities on the continent and thereby attracted investors to its sprawling cities.

Business opportunities in Africa open a floodgate of investment for diverse industries to flourish and bring with them stakeholders in human capacity . There is a boom of investment in Africa covering all sectors. It is pertinent to mention that the number of hostile conflicts in Africa declined from an average of around 4.8 per year in the 1990s to 2.6 in the 2000s giving more room for sustainability and business expansion.

Massive Projects

Six African projects make the top 100 and one of the six made the top ten in the World Cities edition of the Infrastructure 100 Journal in 2012:

  • BRICS Cable Project: Designed to boost international communication between cities and global access to high-speed internet. The cable is designed to connect Brazil, Russia, India and China with 21 countries in Africa.
  • Lesotho Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital: The US$120 million project is a landmark endeavour in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Blue Line of the Lagos Rail network (in Nigeria): This is a groundbreaking public-private partnership (PPP) that not only fills a serious gap in transportation infrastructure in the city, but also displays innovation in its financing structure.
  • Durban Waste to Energy Project (in South Africa): This was named in the Recycling and Waste Management category. It is a model for the continent, as it converts methane gas derived from household waste into electricity.
  • O3b Networks: A continent-wide project that has financed and is currently deploying a US$1 billion, next-generation satellite network that combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fibre.
  • Ethiopia Djibouti Railway :Is part of Ethiopia’s ambitious plans to develop a national railway infrastructure

Growth has primarily been hampered by the adverse socio-political environment of the past few decades, which discouraged foreign investors and the development of most cities. However, the economic and political stability of the past 15 years, as well as positive economic policies that were promoted during the same period have opened up significant opportunities for the African cities.

David Okwara

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