African cities face an array of problems ranging from poverty to high income inequalities, rising unemployment and growing rural-urban migration, among others. These problems have led to an increase in slums, poor sanitation, ill health, declining quality of life, violent conflict, and homelessness. Despite these problems, there are several African cities that are among the most developed metropolitans in the world and many more that are growing rapidly, catching-up with the frontrunners.
“Mining towns like Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tete in northern Mozambique are reportedly the fastest growing economic nodes on the continent. But apart from the virtues of growth, they carry the true characteristics of a frontier town, including significant social problems and stubbornly high levels of poverty,” KPMG (2018).
Cape Town in South Africa was named as the best place to visit in the world by both The New York Times and The Telegraph in 2014. The City’s well developed infrastructure is also regarded by many as the best in Africa. In 2018, however, Cape Town is failing to cope with the effects of drought. It has been projected that the City’s taps will run dry from July 9 (popularly known as Day Zero) (February 2018 estimate). According to the South African Weather Service, 2015 and 2016 were the driest seasons since 1921 and the situation worsened the following year when the city recorded the driest ever season in its history in 2017. Cape Town is also home to Africa’s second largest slum, Khayelitsha, with an estimated population of 400,000.
The water problems, however, are not only confined to Cape Town and neither are they simply associated with drought. According to Collington and Vezina (2000), even the largest international water enterprises have had to admit that they have found it difficult to respond to demand in squatter areas, as witnessed by the low coverage of piped water networks in African capital cities such as Bamako (Mali), Cotonou (Benin), and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). It is estimated that piped sewerage is but a distant dream for 90% of urban Africans (Collington and Vezina, 2000).
Nairobi in Kenya is regarded as one of the most developed cities in Africa, and certainly the economic hub of East Africa. The city, however, is facing an increasing growth of informal settlements. The city’s population has grown over the years from 11,500 inhabitants in 1906 to 3.1 million people in 2009 with more than half the population living in informal settlements and slums occupying less than 1% of Nairobi’s area and less than 5% in residential area (Mutisya and Yarime, 2011). Kibera informal settlement in South West Nairobi is known as the largest slum in Africa and the fourth largest in the world after Orangi Town in Karachi (Pakistani), Neza also in Mexico City (Mexico) and Dharavi in Mumbai (India) India.
A megacity is conventionally defined as a large urban area with a population in excess of 10 million (Chang, Song and Lu, 2009). According to KPMG (2018), there are only three African cities that can be described as megacities, namely, Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos. A host of other cities on the continent, including