They are not only Africa’s least liveable cities but they also make the 10 least liveable cities of the world list by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its Global Liveability Ranking which provides lifestyle scores for 140 cities people might want to visit. In the ranking, every city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. The top of the list is dominated by Australia and Canada while the bottom ten is an affair between Africa and Asia. The Economist Intelligence Unit says, “Conflict is responsible for many of the lowest scores. Conflict will not just cause disruption in its own right, it will also damage infrastructure and overburden hospitals and undermine the availability of goods, services and recreational activities.”
1. Tripoli, Libya (Ranked 139th)
There is no sadder story than that of Libya’s Tripoli. Tripoli has been affected by the instability caused by the NATO intervention to depose Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Due to the power vacuum left by the toppling of the Gaddafi regime, Libya has been embroiled in a turf war with the Islamic State militants also moving in. EIU says, “Escalations in hostilities in Libya have prompted a sharp decline in liveability in Tripoli as the threat to stability from Islamic State (IS, an extreme global jihadi group) continues to spread across the Middle East and North Africa.” Tripoli got a low score of 35.9 from a possible 100 (where 100 is ideal). This represented a five year movement of 4.5 points in the negative.
2. Lagos, Nigeria (Ranked 138th)
Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria’s ranking is mainly due to the low score of 10 out of a possible 100 in stability. This is due to growing insurgency in Nigeria. EIU says, “Continued threat from groups like Boko Haram acts as a constraint to improving stability in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.” Lagos has had a consistent presence in the liveability rankings’ bottom tier, coming in at 137th in 2011, 138th in 2012 and remaining at position 137 from then until now. Lagos, with a population of 22 million and projected to become the world’s fourth mega city in the next few years is likely to have been affected by its size. Much like London and Tokyo, it has more congestion and public transport problems than the smaller cities and this may have contributed to its positioning.
3. Algiers, Algeria (Ranked 134th)
Algiers is an important port but this did not help its case in the rankings. A low showing in infrastructure along with a string of low scores in all other categories except education for an overall score of 40.9 booked the city a spot among the world’s worst. It might be that EIU used the ancient city of Casbah to come up with a score or Algiers really has work to do!
4. Harare, Zimbabwe (Ranked 133rd)
In the past five years, Zimbabwe’s capital has seen a 4.4% increase in its liveability scores but even this has not been enough. With the worst reading in healthcare points, a low score in infrastructure and another weak showing in stability, Harare is going nowhere fast. With the wave of civil unrest and police brutality, this ranking is not likely to drastically improve any time soon.
5. Douala, Cameroon (Ranked 132nd)
With a healthcare system in desperate need of improvement, an unimpressive education system and infrastructure waiting for renovations, Douala was saved by its stability score of 60. Douala is the richest city in its region, in Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and will remain the first city in tropical Africa to have piped a natural gas supply but it will need to invest a bit more in its education and healthcare systems.
There are no African countries in the top ten of the Global Liveability Ranking yet the bottom ten has five countries from the continent. Instead of being apprehensive and conveniently using the race card as a defence, it is better for African countries to go back to the drawing board and fix the problems that affect their attractiveness. Such rankings as the EIU ranking end up affecting even tourism and the better African cities rank, the better the chances of scooping up tourism revenues. This is not the time to be in denial, these five cities need to get to work.