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Top Ten African Richest Cities

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by T. A. Rose (subscribe)
Enjoying challenging myself to add to the WeekendNotes vast library.
Published August 9th 2021
Africa's richest cities from Cape Town to Cairo
Table Mountain
Table Mountain

From South Africa's Johannesburg to Nigeria's Kano are ten of the richest cities in Africa. The classification of "richest" is based on a proposed link between the number of over 30 million US dollar wealthy 'ultra-rich people' in a city and its potential for economic growth. From, such data about Africa's richest cities is seen below, hence the following is why people are rich in the listed African cities.

Top ten African cities for wealthy individuals
Top ten African cities for wealthy individuals, source: author (saved screen from

South Africa

Johannesburg (1), is at the top, yet the household name of Cape Town is in fourth place, with the central reason that Johannesburg is less livable but has more wealthy individuals due to revenue from gold and diamond mining. The 'city of gold' would initially shock people, for numerous reasons; two such reasons are the lack of water along with the contrasts in terms of lifestyles of the rich and poor that must be seen to be believed.


If one was to compare its wealth to Johannesburg, Cape Town (4) is far more livable. With its surfing and nearby vineyards, this old city's wealth is its livability in an epic location under the famous Table Mountain, as seen in the promotional video below:

Wealthiest Nations

The stats can be a bit misleading - in terms of "richest per capita in large nations of over 40 million people". South Africa is a very impressive near chart-topper, at second highest GDP per capita (PPP), so it's important to see this in context when you really stop and think about it, it's (sort of) the richest nation as well.

Second to the impressive Egypt which narrowly topped such a list with almost twice as high a population. There are also small nations such as Mauritius and sparsely populated Botswana that have high per capita earnings but they are not achieving this with very many people - South Africa has 57 million people while Botswana has only 2.25 million people.

West Africa

For Lagos (3) to be in third place is surely partly related to the sheer size of the metropolis but also the Nigerian oil industry.


A more subtle explanation for Abuja (7) is it is master-planned and at elevation, so it's cooler than Lagos by being less humid and higher, so it's livable. Below is a video of such a capital city - dubbing it the richest in Africa - with some commercial buildings, the international airport and mansions appearing towards the conclusion.

For Kano (10), it is a major commercial centre for the groundnut industry, having a very small amount of extremely wealthy citizens compared to the list's top five. A video of its ancient buildings and festival is included below:

Both Kano and Abuja are exciting places to visit, with reputations for tourism. Both are in Nigeria's interior and the interior has fertile soils, forests, an ideal climate for peanut growing and livestock, and with ports on the Atlantic, transportation is important in that economy. As seen on the National Inland Waterways Authority website are ideas on the inland wealth and focus on developing such potential. Simply further reasoning why you will find some of Africa's richest cities in this unlikely near-equatorial location.

East Africa

In Kenya is the familiar name Nairobi (5) - a busy metropolis - and the basis for its wealth is its powerful role as a long-established regional hub.


In terms of wealth, the growing Ethiopian economy is centred at Addis Ababa (8) - built on a plateau it is indeed a symbol of Ethiopia's growth and is home to the centre of the African Union. This sprawl (as seen in the video below) is said to be central to understanding modern Ethiopia.

In Tanzania is the large and legendary Dar Es Salaam (6) - but not to be confused with the legendary nearby Zanzibar. Its secret is size and location, with large Tanzania only moderately wealthy but as such a vital port, Dar Es Salaam is still reaching its potential as an African mega-city.

Dar Es Salaam
Dar Es Salaam

North Africa

The wealth of Cairo (2) is related to its comparative size in Egypt which is an African economic growth area. So synonymous with being a gateway to the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, Cairo is also famed for its bulk of population and busy streets.


It is far more subtle as to how a small city such as Marrakesh (9) in Morocco can get such a place on this list, but due to its legendary tourism industry easily makes the list. It is inland but fairly accessible from Spain hence due to Morocco's overall viability as a peaceful kingdom means tourism has boomed in Marrakesh, yet most of the city's citizens are in fact poor.


An amazingly geographically and culturally diverse list, Africa's richest cities are a talking point and a great reason to learn more about this economically growing continent.

Images sourced from .
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Why? Ideal introduction to Africa as well as topic of interest for more seasoned tourists.
When: As Africa spans half the face of a globe, visiting seasons vary depending on where in the continent visiting.
Where: All reaches of the African continent
Cost: Free to read, can be pricy to visit.
Your Comment
An interesting overview of metropolitan Africa.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9626) 282 days ago
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