As a continent that is experiencing a rapid pace of development, many basic things are still considered luxuries. The most expensive cities in Africa, therefore, have most of these basic luxuries and are also very attractive to expatriates. As a matter of fact, the demand for living spaces coming from the expatriates is a major factor driving up the cost of living in some of these cities.

Such foreign demand is mostly seen when certain economic sectors (such as tourism, finance, and real estate) are experiencing booms; thereby drawing in large numbers of high net worth individuals from other countries.

As is usually seen in free-market economics, prices can quickly get out of hand when demand is sustained at a high tempo. Booms can therefore be followed by busts, as tourists and investors can turn their attention to other cities.

Most Expensive Cities In Africa

1. Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, Senegal is generally accepted to be Africa’s most expensive city. This coastal city has a population of about 2 million people, and is a hub of commerce and tourism. The Dakar Harbor is an important point for shipping not just for Senegal, but for North and West Africa.

This is due to its location on the Westernmost tip of Africa, where it is easily accessible to ships coming from Western Europe can easily land.

This has been an advantage held by Dakar for ages; it was once an important port for the Portuguese Armadas going to and from the Indian colonies.

The Portuguese therefore built the foundation of this city when they built a colony in this location from where they could resupply with freshwater, repair their ships, and trade weapons spices and other necessary things.

Perhaps it is for a taste of this rich history that many European visitors come into Dakar; they come in to visit the museum, stay in the expensive hotels, tour the historical sites, and lay on the sunny beaches.

2. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, is the capital of Ethiopia, and has been so since 1889. However, this great city has been the residence of the Emperors of Ethiopia since at least the 15th Century. Yes, Addis Ababa is an ancient city; one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

With a resident population of about 2,739,551 inhabitants, Addis Ababa is a self sustaining economy- one that depends on trade and commerce; manufacturing and industry; and agriculture. With about 32,685 people working in the hotel and catering industry, one can understand the magnitude of that sector.

3. Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Abidjan is the most important French Speaking city below the Sahara. It is the capital city of the Ivory Coast, and has a population of about 4.395 million people, living in an area of 2,119 km². Abidjan is sometimes referred to as the capital of French Africa; it is a center for commerce, tourism, and culture.

Ships loaded with goods headed for West, and Central Africa often land in the ports of Abidjan; from where they are transported to their various destinations.

Abidjan therefore needs lots of investments in real estate and hospitality to accommodate the great number of people who are in the city for the purpose of commerce; and to transport in coming goods to various locations across French speaking West Africa. Housing is quite expensive in Abidjan, and so is the hospitality industry.

Tourism and culture are also important sectors in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; there are very luxurious hotels in Abidjan, and they are very expensive. The nightlife is something to behold; Abidjan never sleeps! Cinemas, arcades, hotels, discos, and other nightly entertainment centers are always buzzing with young people who have nothing to fear.

4. Johannesburg, South Africa

It is interesting to find Johannesburg; one of the richest and most developed cities in Africa coming in 5th when discussing expenses. Johannesburg is a city founded on riches; it was established by gold prospectors who came in from Europe to exploit the rich gold reserves.

Even today; Johannesburg is a very important gold city; perhaps the most important in the world. It is also a center for fashion, finance, and winemaking. The hotels in Johannesburg are world-class; big, luxurious, and expensive.

The city has a population of 5.635 million, and a landmass of 1,645 km². People from all over the world come to Johannesburg for business and pleasure, and the sandy beaches are always busy with people surfing, running, or just relaxing.

While Johannesburg is quite expensive, there are also cheap or thrift stores and accommodations; so the city is good for low-net-worth individuals as well.

5. Pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria is one of the capitals of South Africa. However, it is more or less an administrative center; full of government buildings and government agencies.

This is exactly why living in Pretoria is quite expensive. Even the hotels are grand and luxurious and are commonly used by workers of the South African government, diplomats, and visiting government officials from other countries.

Even though not all of the 2 million residents of the city are government officials; the service industry generally rotates around the government institutions, meaning that the economy of this city is very healthy- there is a lot of money in circulation, and the people are generally high earners.

6. Harare, Zimbabwe

Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. Harare has a population of about 1.5 million people, and a total land area of about 960.6 km².

Harare has a large tourism sector; in fact, the Harare International Festival of the Arts, which resembles the Edinburgh Festival is one of the biggest arts festivals in the southern hemisphere.

Aside from that; there is a great need for real estate to accommodate the various people coming into the city for activities of international organizations such as the World Health Organization, which has its African headquarters in the city.

Harare is an important center of commerce, government, finance, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and diplomatic affairs. The city has the second-highest number of diplomatic embassies in Southern Africa.

7. Gaborone, Botswana

Gaborone is the capital of Botswana, a city in Southern Africa. Being topographically flat; and bordering South Africa; it is no great shock that Botswana is quite developed.

The city of Gaborone is one of the most attractive outside South Africa; it has a great sense of modernity about it; hotels, restaurants, cinemas, shopping malls, and universities.

Gaborone has a population of about 231,626, and a land area 169 km². The high cost of living in Gaborone is not only about the many tourists coming in to visit the nature reserves, or the many historical sites in the city; it is also because of the luxury goods that the rich tourists consume.

8. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the most developed city on the continent, and it is no surprise that it should also be one of the most expensive cities in Africa. Cape Town has everything; impressive shopping centers, huge commercial buildings, sandy beaches, 5-star hotels, and beautiful apartments.

The city is one of the capitals of South Africa; however, it is a commercial center rather than an administrative one. There are many farms, nature reserves, and parks in Cape Town, and the commercial transport system is also very good.

However, most of the services from cabs to hotel accommodations are quite expensive; this is the price for having such a good local economy.

Cape Town has a land area of 2,461 km2 and a population of about 5 million people. As a hub of tourism, the city receives about 5 million more people every year.

9. Durban, South Africa

Durban, South Africa is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It has been described as a cultural melting pot; a place where people from all over the world can meet.

This is because Durban as a city is rich with visitors from all over the world who come for a taste of the rich culture, exotic beaches, and wildly famous nightlife in the city.

Durban has a population of 595,061 people and is full of beautiful beaches, nature parks, and other attractions.

10. Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh is an important city in Morocco. It is a historical city, with palaces, mosques, and gardens. This city has a population of about 1 million people, but much more travel there each year to walk the grand halls of the palaces, see the fabled mosque, and see the sights.

Marrakesh is not too far from the coast, and it is also not far from Casablanca. Therefore, it is a good place to stay if you want to explore a wider area.



The most expensive cities in Africa all have the influence of the tourism industry to thank for the rapid escalation of prices and the high costs of living. Nevertheless, for the native populations, this is a good thing because it ensures that they can be paid good wages for the services they render and that they can enjoy other benefits as well.

Despite the deep poverty plaguing most African countries, it is quite unfortunate that living in some of the best African cities can be quite expensive. This furthermore compounds the already difficult situation that Africans currently live in. It is expected that the administrative heads of these cities will put in more work so as to ensure that life becomes easier for residents.