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Lagos to top Cairo as Africa's largest city by 2015

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Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

Lagos is expected to overtake Cairo as Africa’s largest city amid a continent-wide trend of rapid urbanisation, according to a recent UN report. The UN-Habitat's State of African Cities 2010 report says that urbanisation is occurring faster in Africa than any other continent.


Lagos is estimated to be Africa’s fastest-growing city and should have 12.7 million inhabitants by 2015, which would be larger than Cairo’s expected population of 12.5 million inhabitants.

However, Cairo’s metropolitan area, which includes both city and suburbs, should easily remain the largest in Africa.

The report predicts that Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will add four million people over the next decade to become the continent’s fastest-growing city.

Africa’s 10 fastest-growing cities, by proportion, are expanding at an average pace of 51 percent per year.

The number of Africans living in urban areas has increased from around 15 percent in 1950, to 40 percent today and is estimated to reach 60 percent by 2050.

In two decades Africa will no longer be predominantly rural.

But as some 200 million people are estimated to currently live in Sub-Saharan slums, this growth could produce additional difficulties if not managed properly, according to the report.

The report stated said that while urbanisation is most often associated with human development and better living standards, rapid growth that results in urban slum proliferation is “not good urban growth”.

Perhaps the answer can be found in innovative ideas like those of Sudan, which recently unveiled a 7.6-billion-euro plan to build new urban centres in all 10 of its state capitals in the shape of animals.