Africa is undergoing impressive urban growth. This continent is likely to be the fastest urbanizing continent in the world. The continent who was alongside Asia one of the least urbanized in the world back in 2014, is now demonstrating fast urbanization rates and is envisioned to reach a 2.4 billion population within the next decades favoring cities over rural areas.
It’s no secret that megacities across Africa are increasingly popping up. In fact, it is expected that 6 of the world’s 41 megacities will be African, the cities being Cairo, Lagos, and Kinshasa joined by Johannesburg, Luanda, and Dar es Salaam. Some of these cities are among the most developed cities in Africa.
Similar to all other megacities in the world, Africa’s largest cities are dealing with challenges such as traffic, pollution, inadequate housing, and public spaces. To fix the megacities inefficiencies, different countries in Africa are coming up with innovations and ideas to solve the problem and one of the best solutions they came up with is building smart cities.
Maybe it was an unreachable dream to think of having smart cities in Africa, but as the countries in this continent are constantly improving, it’s not hard to see African versions of Singapore, Dubai, and New York City. In this post, we’ll introduce you to the smartest cities in Africa, but first, let’s see what the term ‘Smart City’ in Africa means.
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘smart city’ refers to an urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city.
The purpose of the Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes.
The main features of a smart city are:
- Adequate water supply
- Assured electricity supply
- Sanitation, including solid waste management
- Efficient urban mobility and public transport
- Affordable housing, especially for the poor
- Robust IT connectivity and digitization
- Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
Some of the main reasons why Africa is the best continent for building smart cities are:
- Limited Urban Infrastructure: Since many African cities haven’t been previously urbanized and have little to no infrastructures in the cities, there’s no cost for renewing old amenities which makes building smart cities in Africa cheaper and faster.
- A growing African middle class: About 170 million out of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are now classified as middle class. For example, according to WorldData, in Ethiopia alone, the middle class is set to explode over the next decade and will grow from approximately 716 thousand people today to over 9.6 million by 2030, a growth of over 1,200%.
- Fast urbanization: Africa is officially the fastest urbanizing continent in the world, especially in the East Africa region. The continent’s population is projected to double between now and 2050.
- African Entrepreneur spirit: African entrepreneurship is central to Africa’s future prosperity. The biggest business opportunities in the coming decade will be created by Africans who start businesses, generate jobs and wealth, and capture growth opportunities. Across Africa, necessity is the mother of invention.
- Mobile connectivity: According to the UN, there are 650 million mobile users in Africa, surpassing the number in the United States or Europe. In some African countries more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account, or electricity, the agencies add.
1- Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town’s city hall has launched a four-pillar project in an effort to establish itself as a Smart City and has been hailed as the smartest city in Africa in 2021. From its real-time data efforts to improve emergency response, including fire and rescue, law enforcement, and disaster risk management to digital inclusion via free wifi enabled on city buses, Cape Town is the most developed city in Africa and also on its way to becoming one of the smartest cities in the world in near future.
Also, the city’s remote utility meter reading, part of South Africa’s IoT has eliminated manual data-capture errors and has already helped to reduce water usage and energy consumption by 10%. The benefits of real-time data can extend across farming optimization, to traffic management by informing travelers of congestion, crime management by using sensors that detect gunshots in crime zones, and waste management, in which metros are automatically informed by sensor-equipped bins when refuse needs to be collected.
2- Konza Technopolis City, Kenya
Located 60km from the center of Nairobi, Konza Techno City in Kenya is already famous as the “Silicon Valley of Africa”. The Kenyan government plans to complete the techno city sometime after 2030. The proposed satellite city will gather data from smart devices and sensors embedded in roadways and buildings, enabling optimization of traffic and infrastructure, smart communication services, and improved citizen participation.
According to its Smart City plan, Konza’s population will have direct access to collected data, including things like traffic maps, emergency warnings, and energy and water consumption. The availability of data will enable Konza’s population to participate directly in the operations of the city, practice more sustainable living patterns, and enhance overall inclusiveness. The site, spread across 5,000 acres, will not only be a center of technology and education but will provide new homes and leisure activities with shopping malls and other amenities. Kenya’s ICT sector continues to grow and is a world leader for mobile tech. The country wants this new “technopolis” to be a catalyst for the economy.
With all the efforts and plannings for it, Konza Technopolis City is one of the smartest cities in Africa.
3- Eko Atlantic City, Nigeria
Being built on the 10 square kilometers of reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic City is officially an International Commerce city in Nigeria and one of the smartest cities in Africa. Eko Atlantic is a privately funded project in partnership with the Lagos State Government. Once finished, it plans to be home to a quarter of a million people. The new city is connected off Victoria Island, a district in Lagos.
This ambitious tech-forward hub is underway following closely in the footsteps of predecessors like Dubai and Singapore. This is the reason why Eko Atlantic City is known as the “Dubai of Africa”. This city is bringing a new model in Africa where urban governance is shared between the private and public sectors.
The city has already become an active venue for popular afro-concerts and sports events like the Lagos City Marathon and Copa Lagos. Billed as the largest real estate project in Africa, Eko Atlantic is being built on tons of sand dredged from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast. According to Bloomberg, Eko Atlantic City’s completion year is 2023. But with 2 and 3 bedroom apartments being priced at $800,000 and more, it’s not yet clear when the Eko Atlantic City residential units are going to become fully occupied with the quarter of a million population capacity that it has.
Eko Atlantic City is one of the smartest cities in Africa.
4- Tatu City, Kenya
Tatu City, The 5,000-acre development is among the largest private foreign direct investments in Kenya. Tatu City has grown to be one of the most promising urban developments in Africa with its long-term goal of de-congesting the crowded capital of Nairobi. It aims to be a new urban center outside the capital Nairobi, and businesses are already located in the locality. In an attempt to lure companies, the city has a special economic status providing lower business taxes.
Home to more than 150,000 residents, Tatu City was initiated by Rendeavour, “Africa’s largest property developer.” This city offers amenities such as homes, schools, offices, a shopping district, medical clinics, nature areas, a sport and entertainment complex, and a manufacturing area. Tatu City represents a new way of living and thinking for all Kenyans, creating a unique live, work, and play environment that is free from traffic congestion and long-distance commuting.
Tatu City is one of the smartest cities in Africa.
5- Hope City, Ghana
Hope City is designed as a vertical city (acronym of Home, Office, People, Environment) composed of towers linked together by a system of bridges at different heights, including common activities and amenities. Made up of six towers, the hub will include a hospital, university, housing, and recreational areas.
Hope City is intended to promote – through Architecture – the sense of community, sharing common values in a common space. This city is supposed to be a completely new city, and as a new worldwide cultural anchor, it will attract international tourists, investors, and trades, by hosting the largest Pan-African Contemporary Art Foundation and the Science Center.
Hope City is among the smartest cities in Africa.
6- Waterfall City, South Africa
Located between Pretoria and Johannesburg, Waterfall City, the largest mixed-use development ever in South Africa is proudly one of the smartest cities in Africa. Waterfall has everything you would expect from a vibrant, modern city—from eight secure residential developments and two retirement villages, So far it has 9 notable residential estates; each tailored to different lifestyles and price points.
Waterfall City in South Africa has received several international awards so far; including two CNBC International Property Awards for “Best International Retirement Development in the World” and “Best Retirement Development in South Africa” in addition to the Globals 2011 Award for “World’s Best Retirement Resort”.
Waterfall City is one of the smartest cities in Africa.
7- Vision City, Rwanda
Just outside of Rwanda’s capital Kigali is Vision City, the country’s largest housing project. It is part of the government’s strategy to embrace “smart cities.” The town square will have free wifi and the street lamps will be solar-powered.
Vision City is the largest residential housing project in Rwanda’s history and among the smartest cities in Africa.
8- Kigali, Rwanda
Rwanda’s capital city is transforming. The 2020 Kigali Conceptual Masterplan plans to remodel Kigali into a high-rise, modern and tech-orientated city. Kigali has already been changed a lot in the last few decades, trying to make a successful African story, making itself one of the smartest cities in Africa. For example, Kigali is the cleanest city in Africa, also one of the most developed cities in Africa.
9- King City, Ghana
King City, developed by Rendeavour, is a mixed-use development in western Ghana. The site is near the country’s mining region and hopes to capitalize on the growth of the sector. It’s located near Ghana’s third-largest city, Takoradi. King City will accommodate residential and commercial growth associated with the region’s mining and energy sector boom.
King City is supposed to be among the smartest cities in Africa.
10- Modderfontein, South Africa
Initially established as a mining town, Modderfontein is undergoing a process of infrastructure development for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes. The development is situated on 1 600 hectares of land north of Johannesburg. Modderfontein is already famous as the “Manhattan of Africa.” This city is among the smartest cities in Africa.