Into Africa: The continent’s Cities of Opportunity


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A video overview by Paul Cleal and Pierre-Antoine Balu

Pressure through numbers, taking the pulse of 20 rapidly urbanising cities across the African continent.

The megatrends, as we call them in PwC, are colliding across Africa. The growing middle class, the strong demographic growth with improving age mix, the technological innovation that we have already seen in mobile payments for example, growing choice of investment partners from the global south and fast-paced urbanisation are shaping what the future of Africa could look like. These trends twinned with the generally accepted economic data that cities are the world’s engines of growth, makes our Into Africa - the continent's Cities of Opportunity report not only necessary but extremely timely. Africa is at an exceptional historical crossroad, if there was ever a moment for an entire continent to seize the day, this is it.


This report is part of PwC's global Cities of Opportunity series that helps governments, businesses and citizens improve their economies and quality of life. PwC has taken the insights gained from the key indicators and variables developed for its global report to expand the investigative reach of the global Cities of Opportunity series to now focus on Africa as a whole. We have carefully scrutinised and refined the criteria used in our global Cities of Opportunity to take into account African cities’ specific contexts, current issues and prospective strategies. The available data and analysis does have limitations and only tells part of the story and we want to emphasise that there is no substitute for actually going there yourself to have a look on ground. In creating this report, we have sought to assess how the cities are performing, not only from a regional perspective, but also from an international one, seeing that each African city must ultimately compete (and therefore prosper) not only in a local economic environment, but in a global one.

What makes an African city one of opportunity?

This report, concentrates on the continent’s 20 cities that we judge to be among the most dynamic and future focused. We’ve structured the report around the critical issues of the business community, as well as those of the office holders and other public authorities who are responsible for improving the collective life of each city examined here.

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What does it mean for investors



  • African cities when being assessed need to be looked at through a different lens, as current     standings and future potential tell different city stories. So when measuring today remember     to overlay tomorrow.

  • Location can provide access to wider markets, and good choices require knowledge on the     ground as well as objective analysis. 

  • Look inward, then outward, as focusing on the needs of your own business will help carve     out your direction into Africa.

  • Access to markets (middle class consumers in the city and the country/region to which it is a     gateway) is more of a long term determinant of success than natural resources.

  • Know your deal breakers, and makers as critical city factors can deliver knockouts.

  • Money now or investments for the future? Align decisions with your time horizons for results.


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    What does it mean for policy makers



  • Our methodology and selected variables provides a vast range of public policy issues to     consider. So assess what needs to be strengthened and prioritised and plan wisely to meet     the current requirements and future demands from citizens and businesses alike.

  • Know your short-term goals and devise a more integrated long-term “big picture” strategy     that demonstrates how each part interacts and contributes to the greater whole. 

  • Infrastructure and human capital take time to develop but often critical to success. Lack of     adequate infrastructure and human capital investment can limit the economic potential of a     city. 

  • Your role (and related development of institutions) in guiding a city is important to the     private sector. The building blocks are infrastructure, human capital but also security. Where     this is in place culture and society starts to flourish.


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    Contact us

    Joel Segal
    Partner, Chair of Africa Business Group
    Tel: +44 (0) 20 7804 1161

    Pierre-Antoine Balu
    Partner, Advisory Francophone Africa
    Tel: +33 1565 78974

    Jonathan Cawood
    Africa Capital Projects & Infrastructure Leader
    Tel: +27 11 797 5236

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