Despite the stereotype impression people have about Africa, as a place of wars, famine and underdevelopment, it will surprise some that Africa has some of the most livable cities in the world. In Africa like in any other place in the world there are metropolitan cities with mixed cultures, good road network, electricity and other social amenities as well opportunities for economic growth a comfort which greatly attract people. At the African Exponent we bring to you 10 cities in Africa which are livable irrespective of the part of the world a stranger is coming from.
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and boasts all the luxuries and amenities of the best urban areas around the world. Located between the ocean and the mountains, it is also where you will find the advertising execs and creative minds, with many retailers and fashion designers headquartered. Housing options vary, from Tuscan-styled homes (a trend seen across the country), funky “SoHo”-style downtown lofts, and gated urban estates. The city is awash in hiking and water sports, plus it’s near hundreds of vineyards that produce some of the world’s best wines. Cape Town is the center for the insurance and digital sectors in Africa and recently, the city’s public transportation underwent some impressive improvements, making it the kind of city where it is best to have your own car to get around.
2. Accra, Ghana
Accra is a weekend-getaway destinations for privileged travelers and understandably so, for its lively culinary scene, nightlife, and world class shopping. There are several affluent areas including East Legon, home of the famous Accra Mall—and Osu, often called “Oxford Street” for its high-end shops. The warmth of the Ghanaian people is an asset and is an important part of what attracts strangers to want to spend time in Accra. The tropical climate makes it all the more appealing and welcoming. Many Ghanaians returning home from the West are bringing with them enthusiasm, fresh ideas and businesses lighting up the city and upgrading its urbanism. Coupled with the government’s commitment to Investing proceeds into social and physical infrastructure, one can only imagine that Accra will become even more livable in the years to come.
3. Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is fast becoming the African city of choice for multinational companies seeking a foothold for their African operations. Nairobi is a gracious city that possesses much of the sophistication of any urban city; Nairobi has a promising technology industry and reputably some of the best Internet connectivity in Africa. As for the housing options, there are spacious suburban-style homes at prices quite affordable compared to other African cities, as well as luxury apartment complexes with swimming pools and fitness centers. Although getting around may be complex, other options that offer quite an experience include the mini-bus matatu to boda-boda motorcycle taxi—both mainly used by locals. Recently, several multinational companies have opened up branches in Nairobi, including Rockefeller Foundation, General Electric and China’s CCTV news broadcaster.
4. Johannesburg, South Africa
From the moment you step off the plane at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA), it becomes clear why Johannesburg is considered a world-class city. The airport rivals some of the best airports in developed worlds. Johannesburg is one of the wealthiest modern cities in Africa; full with a lot of investment and career opportunities. Recently, the government invested in building up the inner city, and today you will find cleaner streets and renovated buildings. The city is also home to world-class malls like Sandton City and Eastgate. When craving some fresh air, Johannesburg claims the title to having the largest man-made forest in the world. Joburg as often referred to offers a wealth of stores and restaurants, and has been dubbed the Africa Africa’s economic capital. It is host to the plush headquarters of AngloGold Ashanti and many African companies. It is also a multi-cultural city as it hosts many who migrated to work there since the 1800s.
5. Gaborone, Botswana
The capital of Botswana enjoys political stability and economic strength adding to the fact that it is one of the largest rough diamond producers in the world. Botswana’s capital is considered to one of the most peaceful cities in Africa. Despite its size, with a population of just over 230,000, Gaborone offers a diverse mix of people, and places to see. The popularity of Gaborone as one of the livable cities in Africa can also be tied to its rapid growing tourism industry which attracts huge number of tourists yearly. Gabs, as it is popularly known, today is synonymous to precious stone which continues to play a major role in the city’s development. Recently, leading diamond producer de Beers announced it would be moving some of its operations to Gaborone. With regards to the development of modern sports facilities, Gaborone played host to a successful Africa Junior Athletics Championships in 2011 which further opened the doors of the city to the world.
6. Tunis, Tunisia
A lot has changed here since the Arab Spring unrest which started nearly two years ago. Tunisia may be one of the smallest countries in North Africa, but it is currently seeing a lot of development. Tunis is a city with strong French ties, but it is very culturally diverse. In fact it is one of the first Arabo-Muslim towns and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Life expectancy is remarkably high here, with the average person living to 74.6 years old. This could be because Tunis was ranked the second-happiest place in Africa. Once on the wealthiest cities in the Muslim world, Tunisia’s capital is now also considered to be the least expensive city (for expats) in the region. Getting around is fairly easy with the extensive rail network that links the capital to other parts of the country. Worth
7. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar es Salaam sees an annual population increase of 3 percent, making it the third fastest-growing African city. The city is Tanzania’s political and economic hub and in recent years has seen great investment in education. Millions have been spent over the past five years to improve the cities roads, making traveling a lot more efficient. Situated close to the equator, the city enjoys tropical conditions for most of the year which greatly attracts tourist. There has been great Investment in education here, with an extensive program to provide free primary schooling, efforts that were lauded by international bodies when enrollment rates reached over 90 percent. The city is also home to the largest and oldest public university in Tanzania, the University of Dar es Salaam, which recently celebrated its 50-year anniversary and has seen a sharp increase in the number of registered students
The City of Durban is a natural paradise known for its coastline of gorgeous beaches and subtropical climate, situated on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. People live in and flock to Durban for its diverse culture, urban lifestyle and scenic diversity. It is a trendsetter in offering great lifestyle, speckled with adventure activities, blessed with glorious beauty and is an astonishingly livable city. In Durban you will find the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon, the Comrades Marathon, the world’s tallest bungee swing at the Moses Mabhida stadium and the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere, Gateway Theatre of Shopping. Whether you are a business delegate or a leisure traveler, Durban will always provide you with a warm African flavor that will capture your heart forever.
9. Windhoek, Namibia
From the language to the architecture, German culture has greatly influenced Windhoek; it has adequate healthcare services and good educational institutions. Windhoek has a small-town feel, but is also home to nearly every national government institution, making it Namibia’s political, cultural, social and economic capital. If Namibia is best known for the Namib Desert, the oldest in the world, then Windhoek is best known for its beer. Windhoek Lager is one of the fastest-growing premium beers in the region and is sold abroad in over 20 countries. The central business district hosts many cool restaurant, bars. When visiting Windhoek, expect to meet a diverse range of people with a multitude of background, from the indigenous San, Hereo, and Kavango groups to expat Europeans. Windhoek is attractive because it is clean, safe and getting around the city is easy with its well-maintained roads. Both taxis and buses are available to provide efficient transport services.
10. Kigali, Rwanda
Located in the heart of Rwanda, Kigali is home to nearly 1 million people, many of whom are expats. The new Kigali Tower, a 20-floor office and retail complex, has had a lot of buzz. From the expansion of its Central Business District to the recent road construction project to help ease traffic congestion, Kigali is slowly becoming one of the most rapidly developing and livable cities on the continent. Tourism remains an important source of revenue as the country’s largest foreign exchange earner: The increase is likely to see further Investment in the hotel, service, and tourism industries. The weather is moderate most of the time and there are varieties of exciting activities and good social amenities for the residents. The people are friendly and always welcoming.
Worthy of note of other livable cities in Africa are Kumasi in Ghana whose people have been cited as one of the most friendly on the continent, Algiers capital of Algeria is noted for its French-Arab blend cultures, beaches, huge expat community and buoyant economy, Limbe a seaside town of Cameroon cannot be left out on this, popularly called the town of friendship the seaside town is home to a host of diverse communities from almost every west African country.
Header Image Credit: Muthaigatravel