BY Richard Summerfield
Africa is a continent on the rise. Indeed, for many commentators Africa has become an emerging market hotspot, with investment flowing into countries across the continent at an impressive rate. Though the region is still subject to economic and political risks, Africa is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory. According to the World Bank, it is one of the world’s three fastest-growing regions, expected to see economic expansion of around 5.2 percent in 2015-2016, up from 4.6 percent in 2014-2015.
A new report from PwC notes that a number of North African cities demonstrate the greatest potential for economic development in the next few years. The report, ‘Into Africa – the continent’s cities of opportunity’, details the 20 African cities set to become the most dynamic on the continent.
The PwC study was designed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Africa’s major urban hubs, though the firm imposed the stipulation that only one city per country could be assessed. Accordingly, PwC ranked the selected locations in terms of infrastructure, human capital, economics and society, and demographics.
Four of the top five cities listed in the report - Cairo, Tunis, Algiers and Casablanca – are found in North Africa. Johannesburg in South Africa is the only southern city featured in the top five. The relative age of the cities and states in the north are enough to give them an advantage over the majority of those in sub-Saharan Africa.
PwC notes in its report that the infrastructure, regulatory and legal framework, and socio-cultural ecosystems required to establish a successful city, have been present in the northern cities for longer, which has allowed places like Cairo to flourish. Johannesburg’s establishment as a political centre in the mid 1880s allowed the city to develop the requisite infrastructure and services, which have been historically lacking in the south of the continent.
“We believe that these cities demonstrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of Africa’s urban future,” said Kalane Rampai, PwC local government leader for southern Africa.
Despite the dominance of northern cities, a number of sub-Saharan cities scored highest in terms of society and demographics, excelling in diversity and population growth.