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These cities are the hubs of Africa’s economic boom
South Africa is no longer the only place on the continent that has urban wealth clusters
- The wealth of Africans is projected to grow by a third over the next decade
- The continent's wealth is agglomerating in a number of urban clusters, in the south, east and west
- Wealth is collected in a few other places - isolated capitals and mini-clusters stretching from Morocco down to Angola
Over the past decade, 19,000 Africans have become dollar millionaires. Africa's combined wealth has grown by 13% - 3% just in the last year alone. The combined individual wealth of all Africans is $2.3 trillion today – by the end of 2027, it will have increased by a third to $3.1 trillion. Clearly, it's boom time in Africa.
This map offers a revealing perspective on the wealth of the continent. The African subsoil may be resource-rich in many places, but as elsewhere in the world, it's in the great urban centres that money accumulates. And people too: by 2100, 13 of the world's 20 biggest megacities will be in Africa.
South Africa still boasts the main concentration of wealth in Africa, but no longer the only one.Image: Visual Capitalist
And this overview of Africa's richest cities, based on the The AfrAsia Bank Africa Wealth Report 2018, indicates where clusters of wealthy cities are developing across the continent, as well as showing a few more isolated locations of money aggregation.
- Long the most developed nation on the continent, South Africa – with four of Africa's ten richest cities – continues to be the economic engine of Africa's southern half. With a total GDP of $722 billion, South Africa as a whole continues to be the continent's wealthiest country, but on a per-capita basis it comes second after the tiny island nation of Mauritius ($32,700).
- The East African economy is dominated by a string of wealthy cities, from Uganda's capital Kampala via Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's biggest city.
- In West Africa, a similar transnational conglomeration runs from Abidjan in Ivory Coast over Ghana's Accra to Lagos and Abidjan in Nigeria.
- In Morocco, Casablanca's wealth is flanked by that of Tangier and Marrakesh. In Egypt, Cairo dwarfs but not completely outshines Alexandria.
- The 'isolates', in descending order, are four capitals: Luanda (Angola), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Windhoek (Namibia) and Lusaka (Zambia).
Here are Africa's 10 wealthiest cities:
1. Johannesburg (South Africa): $276 billion
Jo'burg city centre.
Image: Brand South Africa
Fittingly, Africa's richest city was built on gold – on the Witwatersrand Gold Rush of 1886, to be exact. It's the commercial capital of South Africa and the wider region.
2. Cape Town (South Africa): $155 billion
View of Cape Town's City Bowl from Lion's Head, with Signal Hill and Cape Flats in the distance
Image: Martin Power, CC BY-SA 3.0
The city with Africa's highest prime residential rates, at around $6,100 per square metre (similar to DC or Berlin) also is an important hub for financial services, retail and tourism.
3. Cairo (Egypt): $140 billion
Rooftops of Cairo
Image: Luc Legay, CC BY-SA 2.0
Real estate, financial services and construction are some of the key sectors in this city of 9 million, the biggest metropolis in the Middle East.
4. Lagos (Nigeria): $108 billion
The Golden Plaza in Ikoyi, Lagos. On the left the Falomo Bridge to Victoria Island
Image: Ulf Ryttgens, CC BY-SA 1.0
It may no longer be the country's capital, Lagos still is the gateway for 80% of Nigeria's exports – and the centre of the burgeoning film industry, a.k.a. Nollywood. At 21 million inhabitants (2016 est.), it's Africa's largest metropolis, as well as one of the world's fastest-growing cities.
5. Durban (South Africa): $55 billion
Indian Ocean beach at Durban
Image: Brand South Africa
Subtropical Durban is South Africa's third-biggest city (after Johannesburg and Cape Town), second-biggest manufacturing hub and biggest port, as well as a major tourist destination. Durban's Gateway Theatre of Shopping is Africa's biggest mall. It has 12,000 parking slots, 390 stores, 90 restaurants, more than a dozen movie theatres (including an IMAX theatre), a skate park designed by Tony Hawk, and the highest fountain in Africa.
6. Nairobi (Kenya): $54 billion
Image: © Sam Stearman
Kenya's capital and largest city (metro area: 7 million) Nairobi is also known as the Green City in the Sun. Founded in 1899 by the British as a rail depot, the city today is home to thousands of Kenyan businesses, as well as the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Africa's 4th-largest stock exchange; and regional hub for hundreds of multinationals.
7. Luanda (Angola): $49 billion
View of Luanda's harbour, with the Restinga peninsula in the background
Image: OneVillage Initiative, CC BY-SA 2.0
Luanda is the biggest city, major port and capital of Angola – and its metro area is home to one in three Angolans. While the majority of Luandans live in poverty, the booming oil and gas industry has created huge wealth for a minority (as well as a boom in banking and building). Luanda is one of the world's most expensive cities for ex-pats, in part because of high import tariffs imposed to help pay for diversifying the economy.
8. Pretoria (South Africa): $48 billion
Pretoria's central business district, seen from Muckleneuk Hill
Image: Petrus Potgieter/public domain
The administrative capital of South Africa and the hub of the wider Tshwane metro area, Pretoria is also a centre for academia and R&D, as well as commerce and industry, including metalworks to car factories.
9. Casablanca (Morocco): $42 billion
Dawn over Casablanca
Image: Achalhikarim, CC BY-SA 4.0
Officially ad-Dar al-Bayda in Arabic but informally known as Kaza, Casablanca is the largest city in the entire Maghreb region (metro area: 7 million), and its economic hub. It is important both as port city and financial centre. Major Moroccan and multinational companies are headquartered here rather than in the political capital Rabat.
10. Accra (Ghana): $38 billion
Independence Arch in Accra
A merger of coastal settlements around British, Dutch and Danish coastal forts, Accra in 1957 became the capital of sub-Saharan Africa's first independent nation. Today, it is a centre for manufacturing, marketing, finance, insurance, and transportation.
Over the next decade, the AfrAsia Bank's report expects growth to remain strong in South Africa, Angola, Morocco, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Nigeria – not coincidentally countries hosting many of the hubs shown on this map.
But the strongest growth projections apply to some of the smaller countries in Africa: Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Mauritius.
Strange Maps #941
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Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.
- Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
- They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
- The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
PARME staff archaeologists excavating a burial site at the Tamanache site, Mérida, Yucatan.
While not the first such minister, the loneliness epidemic in Japan will make this one the hardest working.
- The Japanese government has appointed a Minister of Loneliness to implement policies designed to fight isolation and lower suicide rates.
- They are the second country, after the U.K., to dedicate a cabinet member to the task.
- While Japan is famous for how its loneliness epidemic manifests, it isn't alone in having one.
The Ministry of Loneliness<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I5FIohjZT8o" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p><a href="https://www.jimin.jp/english/profile/members/114749.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tetsushi Sakamoto</a>, already in the government as the minister in charge of raising Japan's low birthrate and revitalizing regional economies, was appointed this <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">month</a> to the additional role. He has already announced plans for an emergency national forum to discuss the issue and share the testimony of lonely <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/12/national/loneliness-isolation-minister/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">individuals</a>.</p><p>Given the complexity of the problem, the minister will primarily oversee the coordination of efforts between different <a href="https://www.insider.com/japan-minister-of-loneliness-suicides-rise-pandemic-2021-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ministries</a> that hope to address the issue alongside a task <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">force</a>. He steps into his role not a moment too soon. The loneliness epidemic in Japan is uniquely well known around the world.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Hikikomori</em></a><em>,</em> often translated as "acute social withdrawal," is the phenomenon of people completely withdrawing from society for months or years at a time and living as modern-day hermits. While cases exist in many <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00247/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countries</a>, the problem is better known and more prevalent in Japan. Estimates vary, but some suggest that one million Japanese live like this and that 1.5 million more are at <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/article/japan-hikikomori-isolation-society" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">risk</a> of developing the condition. Individuals practicing this hermitage often express contentment with their isolation at first before encountering severe symptoms of loneliness and <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200110155241.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">distress</a>.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodokushi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Kodokushi</em></a>, the phenomenon of the elderly dying alone and remaining undiscovered for some time due to their isolation, is also a widespread issue in Japan that has attracted national attention for decades.</p><p>These are just the most shocking elements of the loneliness crisis. As we've discussed before, loneliness can cause health issues akin to <a href="https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/americas-loneliness-epidemic-is-more-lethal-than-smoking-heres-what-you-can-do-to-combat-isolation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">smoking</a>. A lack of interaction within a community can cause social <a href="https://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/how-religious-neighbors-are-better-neighbors" target="_self">problems</a>. It is even associated with changes in the <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/loneliness-brain" target="_self">brain</a>. While there is nothing wrong with wanting a little time to yourself, the inability to get the socialization that many people need is a real problem with real <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-loneliness-hunger" target="_self">consequences</a>.</p>
The virus that broke the camel's back<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hp-L844-5k8" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> A global loneliness pandemic existed before COVID-19, and the two working in tandem has been catastrophic. </p><p>Japanese society has always placed a value on solitude, often associating it with self-reliance, which makes dealing with the problem of excessive solitude more difficult. Before the pandemic, 16.1 percent of Japanese seniors reported having nobody to turn to in a time of need, the highest rate of any nation <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">considered</a>. Seventeen percent of Japanese men surveyed in 2005 said that they "rarely or never spend time with friends, colleagues, or others in social groups." This was three times the average rate of other <a href="http://www.oecd.org/sdd/37964677.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countries</a>. </p><p>American individualism also creates a fertile environment for isolation to grow. About a month before the pandemic started, nearly<a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> 3 in 5</a> Americans reported being lonely in a <a href="https://www.cigna.com/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> issued by Cigna. This is a slight increase over previous studies, which had been pointing in the same direction for years. </p><p>In the United Kingdom, the problem prompted the creation of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. The commission's <a href="https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/active-communities/rb_dec17_jocox_commission_finalreport.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">final report </a>paints a stark picture of the U.K.'s situation in 2017, with millions of people from all parts of British society reporting feeling regular loneliness at a tremendous cost to personal health, society, and the economy.</p><p>The report called for a lead minister to address the problem at the national level, incorporating government action with the insights provided by volunteer organizations, businesses, the NHS, and other organizations on the crisis's front lines. Her Majesty's Government acted on the report and appointed the first Minister for Loneliness in <a href="https://time.com/5248016/tracey-crouch-uk-loneliness-minister/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2018</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Crouch" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tracey Crouch</a>, and dedicated millions of pounds to battling the problem. </p><p>The distancing procedures necessitated by the COVID-19 epidemic saved many lives but exacerbated an existing problem of loneliness in many parts of the world. While the issue had received attention before, Japan's steps to address the situation suggest that people are now willing to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.</p><p>--</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, help is available. The suicide prevention hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.</em></p>
MIT professor Azra Akšamija creates works of cultural resilience in the face of social conflict.