In 1950, there were only two cities in Africa with more than one million inhabitants. They were both in Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria). In the 2008 version of continent, there are more than 40 urban centers with populations over 1 million. A report by the UN Human Settlements Programme projects that the number of Africans living in cities will double by 2030 to more than 700 million.
The image of an urban Africa is not one that usually comes to mind. Much of the continent’s tourism is still based on wildlife and the natural beauty of rural areas. It’s too early to tell if the landscape will totally change in the coming years.
Large cities are not growing rapidly, but mid-sized cities of between 500,000 and 1 million people are the ones that the UN report focuses on. These upstarts are growing at a rate that will see them soon rival or even eclipse the populations of current African mega-cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi.