Africa's fastest-growing cities today aren't the epitome of a large population alone. They are a mix of a booming population and an ever-increasing economic growth. For instance, Lagos isn't just the largest city in Nigeria (and Africa, arguably); the city also accounts for over 55% of Nigeria's value-added tax. By the end of the century, African countries such as Nigeria would have usurped the United States on the list of countries with the highest population.
African cities with the highest population growth rate
With a population pegged at over 1 billion, Africa will house over 2 billion people by 2050, according to recent UN forecasts. The bulk of this growth will occur in African cities as people move from rural areas to the more modern, more fashionable urban centres.
Furthermore, researchers at the Global Cities Institute project that 13 of the world's largest megacities by the year 2100 will be located in Africa. Outside these 12, other cities like Lusaka, Abidjan, Ibadan, Cape Town, Giza, Kano, Casablanca, Algiers, and Kaduna would be hosting over 10 million people each.
As industrialisation and urbanisation continue to drive the continent's growth, let's take a look at its fastest-growing cities in 2021, combining both population and GDP data.
10) Accra, Ghana
As the capital city of Ghana, Accra doubles as the country's largest city. When you factor in the city's status as an entertainment hub in Africa, Accra is an undisputable market in the region.
The city's population has risen from a little over 2 million to around 3.5 million since 2005. The nearby Tema Port makes Accra an essential player in the international trade scene.
9) Dakar, Senegal
Dakar is often regarded as one of Africa's historical cities. The city serves as the capital of Senegal, housing some of the best ports in Africa. Dakar is an important trade hub, especially between Europe and West Africa.
Dakar will see a 50% rise in its population between 2005 and 2025 as its inhabitants increase from 2.8 million to a little over 4.2 million.
8) Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Addis Ababa accommodates one in four urban Ethiopians; it is that influential. Serving as Ethiopia's capital and largest city, Addis Ababa has a population of about 4 million people. At the current growth rate, Addis Ababa is estimated to accommodate over 35 million people by 2100.
Even as early as 2025, Addis Ababa is expected to host 4.7 million population. This figure would confer it with the status of the world's largest city in a landlocked country.
7) Johannesburg, South Africa
Like Nairobi, Johannesburg is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. Unlike Nairobi, it is the largest city in South Africa, located in the southern part of the country.
Since South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Johannesburg's status as a modern city has steadily increased.
6) Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi hosts several foreign international organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters. With a population potential of 6.5 million by 2025, Nairobi may not be one of those African cities with tens of millions of inhabitants, but it remains a powerhouse.
The East African city serves as the country's capital city and commercial hub. It has also remained a choice location for tourists visiting Africa thanks to its amazing wildlife and eco-diversity.
5) Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar es Salaam has over 6 million population, making it one of the largest cities in the African continent. While it may not be the Tanzanian government's capital seat, it houses several embassies and professional services firms.
The growth of Dar es Salaam has been attributed to migration and urbanisation. The Port of Des es Salaam also contributes significantly to economic activities within the city. About 6 million people live in Des es Salaam today. It is estimated to host over 70 million people by the end of the century.
4) Luanda, Angola
This is the capital and largest city of Angola. Thanks to the nearby Port of Luanda, Angola trades its crude oil and other commodities through Luanda.
It has a population pegged around 7 million, which is a huge increase from 4.8 million in 2005.
3) Cairo, Egypt
Cairo is an ancient city dating back to prehistoric times. Yet, it remains a highly recognised city and the largest city in Africa by landmass.
While it is regarded as part of the Middle East, Cairo still serves as the central hub to the rest of the Arab world and especially North African countries beyond the Sahara.
In recent times, the city has had to find revolutionary solutions to its increasing population, which could become 40 million by 2100. As a result, there is a new development happening 40 kilometres East of Cairo. When completed, this new city will host an additional 7 million people.
2) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Formerly referred to as Zaire, Congo is a French-speaking country in Central Africa. Kinshasa, the country's capital, is also the most populated city in the country. Just in 2005, Kinshasa had a population of about 10 million people. In 2025, however, it is estimated that this powerful city will be hosting 18 million people.
Although not as famous as some African cities, including Johannesburg, Cairo, and Lagos, Kinshasa is an important commerce hub for all of Central Africa. Kinshasa is expected to be the world's second-largest city in 2100, with about 84 million inhabitants.
1) Lagos, Nigeria
Once the capital city of Nigeria, Lagos ceded that title to Abuja in 1991. The government cited the city's sprawling population as a factor as it became increasingly difficult to lower the population influx into the country's biggest market.
Today, Lagos has over 20 million inhabitants. Some sources claim the population is closer to 25 million. It is the industrial and commercial hub of Africa's most populous country. By 2050, it has been estimated that Lagos would have a population of 45 million and a much younger workforce.
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