Lagos Takes Over From Cairo As Africa’s Largest City 2015-UN


By Kazeem Ugbodaga

The United Nations Habitat says Lagos, South West Nigeria will take over from Cairo, Egypt as Africa’s most populous city by 2015.

In its 2010 report on Africa’s growth released yesterday, the UN said Cairo, with 11 million inhabitants, is still Africa’s largest urban agglomeration, saying “but not for much longer as Lagos would take over by 2015.”

The report, titled: ‘The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequalities and Urban Land Market,’ was endorsed by Executive Director of the UN-Habitat, Mr. Joan Clos.

“In 2015, Lagos will be the largest with 12.4 million inhabitants. In 2020, Kinshasa’s 12.7 million will also have overtaken Cairo’s then 12.5 million population. Luanda has recently surpassed Alexandria and is now Africa’s fourth largest agglomeration. It is projected to grow to more than 8 million by 2040,” the report stated.

The report added that the population of Lagos city, like other African cities, would have grown by 300 percent by 2050, thereby bringing the total number of its original residents to no fewer than 37.7 million by the middle of this century.

The report said whereas the population of Lagos city was about 10.5 million in 2010, “the Lagos city is host to an estimated 18 million and would increase tremendously in years to come. Greater Lagos now includes 16 of the 20 local government areas in Lagos State.”

According to the report, by the day, some seven million Lagos residents commuted to work by public transport or private vehicles, saying “it has become evident that productivity in Metro Lagos is increasingly hampered by the inadequacy of its fragmented public transportation system and heavy traffic congestion.”

The document further revealed that up to 2020, Kinshasa will be the fastest-growing city in absolute terms, by no less than four million, a 46 percent increase for its 2010 population of 8.7 million.

“Lagos is the second-fastest with a projected 3.5 million addition, or a 33.8 percent increase. Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Cairo, Abidjan, Kano and Addis Ababa will all see their populations increase by more than one million before 2020.

“The average for the 10 proportionally fastest growing cities is around 51 per cent. Abuja, Bamako, Luanda, Lubumbashi and Nairobi are projected to grow at rates between 47 and 50 percent over the current decade, while Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Mbuji-Mayi and Niamey are projected to grow between 50 and 57 per cent,” it added.

It stated that in the case of some African cities, projected proportional growth for the 2010 -2020 period defied belief, predicting that Ouagadougou’s population is expected to soar by no less than 81 percent, from 1.9 million in 2010 to 3.4 million in 2020.

“With the exception of the largest cities in the Republic of South Africa and Brazzaville in Congo, from 2010 to 2020, the populations of all sub-Saharan million-plus cities are expected to expand by an average of 32 percent.

“But 70 percent of all African urban population growth will be in smaller cities and those with populations of less than half a million. This is where the real urban transition of Africa is taking place,” it said.

The report also warned that the populations of African cities would more than triple over the next 40 years. “For the first time in 2009, Africa’s total population exceeded one billion, of which 395 million, almost 40 percent, lived in urban areas.

“This urban population will grow to one billion in 2040, and to 1.23 billion in 2050, by which time 60 per cent of all Africans will be living in cities.

“No African government can afford to ignore the ongoing rapid urban transition taking place across the continent. Cities must become priority areas for public policies, with hugely increased investments to build adequate governance capacities, equitable services delivery, affordable housing provision and better wealth distribution,” said Joan Clos, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

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