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Largest Cities In Africa

Africa’s population and urbanization rate are increasing at the same time. This has led to the expansion of existing cities and the emergence of new urban areas.

The population of Africa is expected to double by 2050 to more than 2 billion. According to research by the World Economic Forum, the fastest growing cities in Africa are Lagos, Kinshasa, Cairo, Luanda and Nairobi.

Below you can find a list of the 25 largest African cities in terms of population and growth rate.

Lagos, Nigeria -21 Million

Nigeria Lagos is located on the western coast of Nigeria and is the most populous city in the country. Lagos serves as Nigeria’s financial and commercial center, with more than 20 million residents. Lagos is also home to Nigeria’s largest port. Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria and the second largest city in Africa, after Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2021, the city has a population of 14.8 million. The Lagos metropolitan area has a total population of 21.3 million, making it the second largest metropolitan area in Africa, second only to Cairo. Lagos is an important financial center of Africa, as well as the economic center of the state of Lagos and Nigeria. This megacity has the fourth highest GDP in Africa and one of the largest and busiest seaports on the African continent. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Lagos City is Nigeria’s main economic center, accounting for about 10% of the country’s GDP. Most commercial and financial operations are conducted in the central business district located on the island. It is also home to most commercial banks, financial institutions and large companies in the country.

Lagos is also the main information, communications and telecommunications (ICT) center of West Africa and may be the largest ICT market on the African continent. Lagos is developing a 24-hour economy and is also listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world. In some areas of Lagos, the living standards of residents are among the highest in Nigeria and Africa. At the same time, a considerable number of residents live in slums without running water and sanitation facilities. Lagos has become an important place for African and black cultural identity.

Cairo, Egypt- 20.5 Million

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. It is one of the largest cities in Africa, with more than 20 million people living in urban vicinity. Cairo is located near the Nile Delta in central Egypt. The city is famous for its history and culture dating back to ancient Egypt. It is an important commercial, financial and trade center. With a population of 21.3 million, the Cairo metropolitan area is the largest in the Arab world, the second largest in Africa, and the sixth largest in the world. Cairo is related to ancient Egypt.

The famous Giza Pyramids and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographic area. Cairo is located near the Nile Delta and was built in 969 AD. During the Fatimid dynasty, the land that made up the current city was the seat of the old country’s capital, and its remains are still visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been the center of political and cultural life in the region, and is known as “the City of a thousand minarets” because of its Islamic architecture.

Today, the Egyptian capital has the oldest and largest film and music industry in the Arab world, as well as the second oldest higher education institution in the world-Al-Azhar University. Many international media, companies and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the headquarters of the Arab League is in Cairo most of the time. With a population of more than 9 million, Cairo is spread over an area of 453square kilometers (175 square miles) and is by far the largest city in Egypt. Another 9.5 million inhabitants live near the city. Like many other megacities, Cairo also faces serious pollution and traffic problems. The Cairo Metro is one of only two subway systems in Africa (the other is in Algiers, Algeria) It is one of the 15 busiest subway systems in the world, with an annual passenger volume of over one billion passengers.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo- 14.3 Million

Kinshasa is located along the Congo River, facing Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The city is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is highly dependent on Kinshasa. The official language is French.

Kinshasa was once a fishing and trading village along the Congo River, and is now one of the fastest growing megacities in the world. It faces Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Republic of the Congo; These two cities are the second closest capitals in the world (after Vatican City and Rome). Kinshasa is also one of the 26 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to the city’s broad administrative divisions, more than 90% of the city’s land is rural land, and the urban area in the west is small but expanding.

Kinshasa is the third largest metropolitan area in Africa, after Cairo and Lagos. It is also the largest French-speaking urban area in the world. French is the language of city government, education, the media, public services and high-level business, while Lingala is used as a lingua franca on the streets. Kinshasa hosted the 14th Francophone Summit in October 2012.

Giza, Egypt- 8.8 Million

Giza is located along the Nile River, very close to Cairo. The pyramids are very close to the city center. It is an important tourist and commercial center. Giza is most famous for its location on the Giza Plateau, which has some of the most impressive monuments in the world, including the royal sacred and mortuary complexes of ancient Egypt, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and A series of other large pyramids and temples.

Giza has always been the focus of Egyptian history because it is close to Memphis, the ancient pharaoh capital of the Old Kingdom. Its St. George Cathedral is the cathedral of the Coptic Catholic Eparchy of Giza.

Luanda, Angola -8.4 Million

Luanda is the capital of Angola and the largest city in the country. The port of Luanda has made a huge contribution to the city’s economy. The headquarters of the government and major companies are located in the city.

The city is undergoing major reconstruction, many large developments that will significantly change its urban landscape. The city’s existing industries include agricultural products processing, beverage production, textiles, cement, new car assembly plants, building materials, plastics, metallurgy, cigarettes and shoes.

The city is also a well-known oil economic center and oil refineries are located in the city. Luanda has long been regarded as one of the cities with the highest cost of living for expats in the world. The residents of Luanda are mostly members of the Ambundu ethnic group, but the number of Bakongo and Ovimbundu has increased recently. There is a European population, mainly composed of Portuguese. Luanda was the main host city for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania -6 Million

Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania with a population of over 6 million individuals. Although the capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, many government agencies, offices and embassies are located in Dar es Salaam. The port of Dar es Salaam is a major contributor to the city’s economy.

The development of the city is thanks to imports, distributions, exports and trade activities. Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s most famous art, fashion, media, film and television city and its main financial center. It is the capital of the Dar es Salaam region, one of the 31 administrative regions of Tanzania. It consists of five districts: Kinondoni in the north; Ilala in the center; Ubungo and Temeke in the south; and Kigamboni on the other side of the library in the east across Kurasini estuary.

Johannesburg, South Africa -5.8 Million

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and the financial hub of the country. Most of the international companies and banks are located here in the city. The city hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is home to the University of Johannesburg and University of Witwatersrand. Johannesburg-Pretoria urban area is the 26th largest district in the world with 14,167,000 residents.

It is the capital and largest city of Gauteng, the richest province in South Africa. Johannesburg is the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Most of the major South African companies and banks are based in Johannesburg. Located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand Mountains, the city is a large-scale gold and diamond trading center.

Khartoum, Sudan -5.3 Million

Khartoum is the capital of Sudan, located at the confluence of the River Nile. This city is the birthplace of Sudan’s banking, commercial and manufacturing activities.

Khartoum is the economic and trade center of Northern Africa. There are railway lines from Port Sudan and El-Obeid. Serving Khartoum International Airport, the new Khartoum International Airport is under construction. Several national and cultural institutions are located in Khartoum and its metropolitan area, including the National Museum of Sudan, Khalifa House Museum, University of Khartoum, and Sudan University of Science and Technology.

Alexandria, Egypt- 5.2 Million

Alexandria is a coastal city on the Mediterranean sea. It is an important tourist destination. Additionally, due to the Suez oil and gas pipeline, the city has a well-developed industry.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast -4.8 Million

Abidjan is the business capital of Ivory Coast. It is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The city is developing very rapidly, and the population is expected to exceed 6 million in the next 10 years.

Cape Town, South Africa – 4.6 million

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. The city’s economy is highly dependent on tourism. Attractions include Cape Flora, Table Mountain, and Cape Point.

Nairobi, Kenya – 4.4 Million

Nairobi is the capital of the country Kenya. Many international companies and organizations are based in Kenya. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) are both located in the city.

Casablanca, Morocco- 4.2 million

Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco. It is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The Port of Casablanca is located near the city and is one of the largest ports in the world. The city is famous for its historical landmarks.

Accra, Ghana – 4.2 Million

Accra is the capital of Ghana and the most populous city. Various ministries, banks, companies and non-governmental organizations are located in the city. The city is very close to the port of Tema.

Algiers, Algeria – 3.9 Million

Algiers is the largest city and capital of Algeria. This city is located on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the economic capital of Algeria.

Kano, Nigeria – 3.9 Million

Kano is the second largest city in Nigeria and the economic center of northern Nigeria. The city is growing rapidly and offers many investment and business opportunities, especially in the field of construction.

Douala, Cameroon – 3.7 Million

Douala is located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest city and the economic center of Cameroon. The ports of Douala serve neighboring countries: Gabon, Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Cameroon.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 3.4 Million

The headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa are both found in Addis Ababa. The city is the capital of Ethiopia and the largest city in the country. It is known as the political capital of Africa. The city has a vibrant cultural and economic life.

Durban, South Africa – 3.4 Million

Durban is the third largest city in South Africa. It is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Thanks to the Port of Durban, the city has a vibrant business life.

Kumasi, Ghana – 3.3 Million

Kumasi is a metropolis with a long history in Ghana. This city is the capital of the Ashanti Empire. This city is the second most populous city in Ghana and has a thriving economy.

Kumasi has a humid, damp environment, having industrialized out of a lush forest belt among hills reaching to 1,000 feet (300 meters). The town’s name originates from Osei Tutu, a 17th-century Asante ruler who chose the location for his capital and held land negotiations under a kum tree. Kumasi is expanding rapidly in current times, and growing prominently in its economic and commercial activities due to its location on north-south trade routes.

Kumasi’s riches are derived from its location at the crossroads of Ghana’s major roadways, as well as cocoa production in the outskirts. The city’s economy benefits from active trading, mining and inventive handcraft such as traditional kente cloth.

The Kumasi Central Hospital is the most dominant feature in the old town, which has been retrofitted with paved streets, parks, and gardens. The prestigious Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, which became a university in 1961, together with other schools and teacher-training college can be found in the city. A museum, a zoo, and a regional library are all part of the Asante Cultural Centre, meanwhile most traditional Asante structures can be seen northeast of the city.

Lusaka, Zambia – 2.5 Million

Lusaka is the most populous city in Zambia and also the capital of the country. The city is home to many businesses, financial services, companies, and government agencies. Zambia has a population of 18,685,699 people, making it the world’s 65th most populous country. Lusaka its capital is also the nation’s most populated city, boasting an urban population projected to be 2.5 million and a metro area population of 3.3 million.

Lusaka is Zambia’s government and commercial hub, linking the country’s four major motorways to the north, south, east, and west. The city is predominantly dependent on its agricultural surroundings, offering a primary gathering point for corn and tobacco produce. Lusaka, however, has attained a varied economy that includes cement and textile manufacturing, as well as fabrication and food processing.

An international airport and the long serving University of Zambia, established in 1965 are located just outside of town as are the Munda Wanga Botanical Gardens. The city is located at the crossroads of the Great North and Great East roads which lead to Tanzania and Malawi respectively, meanwhile linking to Livingstone and Ndola of Zambia and to Tanzania.

Bamako, Mali – 2.4 Million

Bamako is the capital of Mali and the biggest city. The city has factories for textiles, meat and metal products and mining activities.

Mogadishu, Somalia – 2.4 Million

Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia with a major port in the Indian Ocean. Due to the port’s logistics advantages, the city is famous for its import and export, manufacturing and distribution activities.

Guinea Conakry – 1.7 Million

Conakry is located on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is the capital and largest city of Guinea. The city is the cultural and economic center of Guinea.

Kampala, Uganda – 1.6 Million

Kampala is the capital of Uganda. The population of Uganda is growing rapidly at a rate of 4% per year. It ranks among the best in the life index. With a population of more than 1.6 million people, the vibrant city of Kampala is now one of the world’s fastest growing cities. It is located in the southern region of the country, approximately north of Lake Victoria, on a range of hills at an elevation of around 3,900 feet (1,190 metres).

English, Luganda, and Swahili are the most commonly spoken languages in the city which is segregated into 5 administrative divisions. Kampala was named the greatest city in East Africa to reside back in 2016 by the Mercer official website. Featuring parklands, gardens, and golf courses, Kampala boasts as one of Africa’s “greenest” capitals.

Kampala, located in the most successful agricultural region of the country, exports coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco, and sugar. The city serves as the headquarters for the majority of Uganda’s large corporations, as well as the primary market for the Lake Victoria region, and it is home to various food, metal-products, and furniture businesses, as well as a tractor-assembly plant.

By Alexander Asiedu Ofori

A passionate writer, content creator and a Pan-African

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