What are the largest cities in Africa located?


As the largest cities in Africa continue to grow and evolve, their proactive measures and investment in infrastructure underscore their commitment to development and economic progress.

What are the largest cities in Africa located?
Dar es Salaam. (Photo by Moiz Husein/Shutterstock)

In an ever-changing global landscape, these cities are poised to shape Africa’s economic future and contribute to the continent’s overall growth and prosperity. But where are the largest cities in Africa today?

1. Cairo, Egypt – 22.6 million

Cairo, Egypt’s capital, is a vital centre for commerce and industry in the Middle East and North Africa region. The city is known for its textile, food processing and manufacturing industries. As part of its urban policies, Cairo is investing in modernising its transportation networks, including the Cairo Metro, to ease congestion and facilitate the movement of goods. The city’s strategic location and ambitious urban policies make it a pivotal player in regional trade and commerce.

2. Johannesburg-Pretoria, South Africa – 15 million

Johannesburg, often referred to as the “City of Gold”, is the economic and financial heart of South Africa. It boasts a dynamic financial sector, anchored by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), and is home to numerous corporate headquarters. Urban policies in Johannesburg prioritise the development of public transportation systems, such as the Gautrain, to reduce traffic congestion and enhance connectivity. The city’s focus on innovation and technology has also led to the growth of a start-up ecosystem.

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3. Lagos, Nigeria – 14.5 million

Lagos is not only Nigeria’s largest city but also its economic powerhouse. The city is known for its bustling seaports, particularly the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, which handle a significant portion of the country’s imports and exports. Lagos is also making strides in the tech sector, with a start-up ecosystem known as ‘Silicon Lagoon’. The city’s urban policies focus on improving transportation infrastructure, including road networks and the expansion of the Lagos Light Rail Project. These initiatives aim to reduce congestion and facilitate the movement of goods and people, further boosting Lagos’s status as a key business and trade hub in Africa.

4. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – 13.49 million

Kinshasa, situated along the Congo River, plays a critical role in Africa’s mining and mineral industries. The city is a key point of export for the country’s vast mineral wealth, including copper and cobalt. Kinshasa’s urban policies are geared towards improving logistics and transportation infrastructure, essential for efficient resource export. Additionally, the city faces urbanisation challenges, and urban policies are working towards addressing issues such as informal settlements and improving public services to accommodate its growing population.

5. Luanda, Angola – 10.9 million

Luanda, the capital of Angola, is not only one of Africa’s largest cities but also a burgeoning centre for commerce and industry in southern Africa. This coastal city has long played a pivotal role in Angola’s oil and diamond industries, which are key drivers of the country’s economy. Luanda’s strategic location along the Atlantic Ocean makes it a crucial hub for shipping and trade. Urban policies in Luanda have evolved significantly in recent years. The government has been working on improving infrastructure, with an emphasis on modernising the port facilities, expanding road networks and enhancing public transportation systems. These efforts aim to alleviate congestion and facilitate the movement of goods, contributing to the city’s economic growth.

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6. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – 7.9 million

Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, is a burgeoning economic and business hub on the eastern coast of Africa. It serves as Tanzania’s principal port city, with the Dar es Salaam Port facilitating a significant portion of the country’s imports and exports. In recent years, Dar es Salaam has experienced robust economic growth, driven by sectors such as finance, telecommunications, manufacturing and construction. The city’s strategic location on the Indian Ocean has made it a focal point for trade and investment in the East African region.

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 7.1 million

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is a political and diplomatic hub, hosting the headquarters of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The city is also witnessing growth in the manufacturing, construction, and technology sectors. Urban policies in Addis Ababa prioritise infrastructure development, including the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit system, to attract foreign investment and support economic expansion. As Ethiopia’s economic engine, the city plays a pivotal role in the country’s development.

Nairobi, Kenya – 6.9 million

Nairobi is Kenya’s economic epicentre and a burgeoning tech hub in East Africa. The city hosts a variety of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and technology. Nairobi’s urban policies are geared towards sustainable urban planning, affordable housing initiatives, and improving transportation infrastructure to accommodate its growing population. These efforts support the city’s role as a leading financial and technology hub in the region.

Accra, Ghana – 5.78 million

Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is a dynamic and evolving urban centre that serves as the economic, political, and cultural heart of the country. It is one of West Africa’s most vibrant and influential cities. Accra is known for its diverse and growing economy. The city boasts a thriving financial sector, with numerous banks and financial institutions headquartered there. Additionally, industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications and technology have been on the rise, contributing to the city’s economic dynamism.

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Abidjan, Ivory Coast – 5.67 million

Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, boasts a bustling port and a thriving financial sector. The city serves as a major gateway for goods entering and leaving West Africa. Urban policies in Abidjan emphasise development, with initiatives aimed at reducing the city’s environmental footprint and enhancing infrastructure. As a regional economic hub, Abidjan continues to attract investments and business opportunities.

Alexandria, Egypt – 5.5 million

Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, has a rich maritime history and remains a key player in trade and commerce along the Mediterranean Sea. The city’s urban policies focus on enhancing its logistics and transportation infrastructure, including the development of the Alexandria Port, to facilitate imports and exports. Alexandria’s strategic location and efforts to modernize its facilities contribute significantly to Egypt’s trade and industrial sectors.

[Read more: Where are the largest cities in the Middle East?]

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