The fastest-growing cities in Africa are usually decided by the abundance of economic opportunities. Rural-urban migration is usually the biggest factor that contributes to the population explosion observed in these vibrant African cities. The population explosion in these few cities also results in large percentages of the total populations of these countries being concentrated in a few places.

Rural-urban migration is influenced by a million factors which include employment opportunities, security, the presence of more advanced amenities in the cities, and lots more. Of course, this phenomenon of concentration of people in a few cities presents challenges that are quite difficult for the authorities to deal with. Nevertheless, people will continue to gravitate towards places where they find opportunities.

The current figures are at variance with figures obtained in the previous years, which put cities such as Lagos, and Ibadan as some of the fastest-growing on the continent. While such cities are still heavily populated, they have been overtaken in the speed with which they are growing.

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Cities In Africa

1. Accra, Ghana

Accra the capital of West Africa’s most promising country is the fastest growing city in Africa as far as population growth and expansion of the city limits are concerned.

The city is both the economic and administrative capital of Ghana; home to a significant number of government and non-governmental institutions such as ministries, courts, and so on. The city is also a hub of economic activities with banks, insurance companies, a port, big markets, and retail outlets as well as gold bullions and such business establishments.

Accra is experiencing growth at a rate of 49%. Even though much of the new areas within the city are shanty towns, many of these places are welcoming new housing developments.

2. Ibadan, Nigeria

Ibadan is the largest city in Nigeria by landmass, and it does not rank too far behind Lagos and Kano when it comes to population. Ibadan is known for being a scholarly city; education plays a big part of the city’s history and make up. The city is also home to plenty of economic activities such as banks, insurance, retail outlets, fashion, and so on.

The abundance of food also makes it an attractive place for new people coming in from out of town. Entrepreneurs and artisans also come into Ibadan in large numbers; people who work in agriculture, trade, handicrafts, and manufacturing may find that their running costs are much lower than what they would have in Lagos.

Ibadan saw an increase in population of about 3.7% within the past year, and is expected to continue growing for the next few years.

3. Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos was once named the fastest growing city in Africa. While it has lost that title to Accra and even Ibadan, the city is still growing in population and land area. Lagos is still a favorite destination for people leaving their home towns in search of economic opportunities; people from all over the country, and also from other nations in the region choose Lagos because they can quickly find some form of employment, particularly in the informal economy.

Lagos has so many big markets, well managed retail outlets, ports, and so on. As the financial capital of Nigeria; the city is home to many banks, insurance companies, educational institutions and manufacturing industries. Lagos has a thriving economy, and even those who work in the service sector can make a lot of money.

Lagos is growing at a rate of 3.7%. The population is expected to reach 27M in 2025.

4. Dakar, Senegal

Dakar is capital of Senegal, another coastal state in West Africa. Senegal lags behind Ghana and Nigeria in terms of development, but has been making progress at its own pace.

Dakar presently has a population of around 1 million people; but the metropolitan area has around 3.5 million residents. That number is rising steadily as people come in from the rural areas in search of jobs in manufacturing, textiles, fish canning, flour milling, brewing, and peanut oil refining. The city also has petroleum refining, truck assembly plants, which provide jobs and contribute to the economy.

Many people also come in for the Dakar Rally, as well as to enjoy the beaches. There are also many museums reflecting the city’s history.

Dakar is projected to grow by 52%; the population is expected to reach 4.5 million by 2025.

5. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan, is also located along the West African coast of the Atlantic Ocean; it is the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). This is city that houses the administrative machinery of the government, as well as the main businesses in the country. Abidjan has a population of around 6.3 million people, and that number is growing as people pour in from the rural areas in search of jobs.

Some of the main economic activities in this city include shipping, hotels, politics and administration, textiles, food processing, lumber, and so many other industries. The informal sector is also very big; many people working in the services sector fall under this category.

Abidjan is presently experiencing growth at a rate of 3.05%, but the growth is expected to rise to 3.17% by 2024 when the population is expected to reach 5.8 million.

6. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s oldest countries, and it is no surprise that Addis Ababa, its capital city should be experiencing growth at a rapid pace. Addis Ababa has for a long time been an important city to the whole continent; it houses the headquarters of the African Union, and the United Nations Commission for Africa.

Some of the economic activities in Addis Ababa include trade and commerce, manufacturing, animal husbandry, transportation and communication and so on. The city has plenty of hotels, banks, big markets, and so on.

The city presently has a population of about 5.6 million, and that number is expected to rise 6.2 million by 2026. Addis Ababa is therefore experiencing growth by at least 4.46% year on year.

7. Luanda, Angola

Luanda is the biggest city in Angola. It is also the administrative capital as well as the major commercial hub of the country. This is a place where you can find many tall buildings all over the place; the administrative buildings of the government are many, but then there are also many banks, the port, markets as well as retail outlets, and then the oil marketers.

Luanda is an important port city; the commodities such as oil and other extracted products get to leave the country through the port, and finished goods from other countries also enter through the same source.

Luanda has a population of about 9.2 million people and is experiencing growth at a rate of around 3.8% year on year, meaning that the population is expected to reach 9.6 million by 2024.

8. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Once known as Léopoldville, Kinshasa is the biggest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the administrative capital of the country, as well as the biggest commercial zone. This is where the arms and organizations of the government are concentrated, and from where the government runs the rest of the country.

Many people come into Kinshasa to find work in the various government organizations or to find work in the manufacturing industry, or in the food processing, construction, and other industries in the city.

The city also has banks and other financial institutions. The informal sector is also thriving in the city; it provides jobs for about 9% of the city’s population.

Kinshasa has a population of about 15.6 million, and the city is seeing growth at a rate of about 4.4%.

9. Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi is the biggest city in Kenya. It is also the administrative capital as well as main financial hub of the country. The city is also important for the many wildlife conservation centres, and for the hotels and accommodations, some of which are highly rated. There are plenty of financial institutions, as well as retail outlets in the city as well. Education, transportation, agriculture, and food are also very important to the city.

Nairobi has a population of around 4.3 million, and the growth rate is estimated at around 4.2%.

10. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dares Salaam, and the whole of Tanzania is fast becoming quite popular as a hub of commerce and industrialization. It is one of the major powerhouses in East Africa. As the administrative centre of the country, there are plenty of government establishments in the city; but there are also banks, insurance companies, retail outlets, as well as manufacturing industries in the city as well.

Agriculture, food processing, as well as tourism and hospitality also provide jobs for the people.

Dar es Salaam has a population of 7.75 million, but is growing at a rate of 5.01%. The population is expected to grow to 8.1 million people by 2024.

Related :


The fastest-growing cities in Africa are not typically overcrowded; they are just developing quickly because of the economic opportunities which attract the people in crowds.

The fact that these cities are comparatively low in population gives credence to the idea that Africans generally avoid crowded spaces; moving out to less densely populated places.

Large cities all over the world usually come with problems such as crime, waste management, and pressure on the health management authorities. Due to the fact that most of Africa is underdeveloped; these pressures may be even more telling on the authorities.