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Study: These Are The Best African Cities For Quality Of Life 2018


The latest Quality of Living city rankings, published by Mercer, is dominated by European cities, with Vienna topping the list of best places in the world to live. However, the study also offers insights into the quality of life on offer in African cities.

Five African cities remain in the top 100 and South Africa contributes three of those cities alone. While it’s Mauritius’ Port Louis that ranks as the highest African city in the study, coming in at 84th place.

Then we have the worst performers: Brazzaville (224) in the Democratic Republic of Congo; N’Djamena (226) in Chad; Khartoum (227) in Sudan; and Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic ranking as the lowest African cities for life quality.

Of course, there are plenty of other African cities between the two extreme ends of the ranking – so what (if anything) does this tell us about the quality of life on offer in Africa’s major cities and how it compares to other regions of the world?


The 2017/2018 Quality of Living Ranking

This visual representation of the top and bottom ranking cities from the study reveals an unsurprising trend. The best performing locations are shared between the world’s most developed regions while the Oceanic neighbours of Australia and New Zealand offer the only two cities in the Southern Hemisphere to rank in the world’s top ten.

At the bottom end of the list, Haiti is the only non-African on Middle Eastern country included in the list of worst ten cities. Africa contributes six cities to the bottom ten with Bangui in the Central African Republic finishing just one place above Baghdad in Iraq.


Africa’s best cities for quality of living

The highest-ranking of Africa’s cities in the Mercer study is Port Louis in the island nation of Mauritius (84). South Africa’s Durban (87), Cape Town (94) and Johannesburg (96) remain in the top 100 while Victoria (98) in the Seychelles is the fifth and final African city in double-digit positions.

From there, you have to venture down to 130th place to see the next African city on the list: Windhoek in Namibia. Here’s where each African city included in the study ranks:


130. Windhoek, Namibia


141. Gaborone, Botswana

150. Lusaka, Zambia

163. Dakar, Senegal

164. Libreville, Gabon

165. Cairo, Egypt

166. Accra, Ghana

173. Kampala, Uganda

179. Blantyre, Malawi

181*. Cotonou, Benin

181*. Maputo Mozambique

184. Algiers, Algeria

185. Banjul, Gambia

186. Nairobi, Kenya

187. Djibouti, Djibouti

192. Kigali, Rwanda

194. Yaounde, Cameroon

199. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

201. Luanda, Angola

206. Lome, Togo

208. Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire

209. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

210. Harare, Zimbabwe

212. Lagos, Nigeria

213. Abuja, Nigeria

216. Antananarivo, Madagascar

217. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

219. Niamey, Niger

220. Bamako, Mali

221. Nouakchott, Mauritania

222. Conakry, Guinea

223. Kinshasa, Democratic Rep. of the Congo (DRC)

224. Brazzaville, DRC

226. N’djamena, Chad

227. Khartoum, Sudan

230. Bangui, Central African Republic


For East Africa the highest representative is the Ugandan capital of Kampala, coming in at 173. Then you have Kenya’s Nairobi placing at 186, which highlights how far behind the global average East African cities remain. Djibouti’s aptly named Djibouti City (189), Rwanda’s Kigali (192), Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam (199), Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa (209) and Sudan’s Khartoum (227) complete the list of East African cities to qualify at all.

Sadly, there’s no place for the troubled nations of Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia or South Sudan on this quality of living ranking.


What are the criteria for this study?

When looking at any study of this kind, you have to consider the criteria to get an idea of how credible the results may be. In the case of Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking, the study is designed to grade the standard of living for expats in each country on the list – not for local residents.

Mercer says it evaluates local living conditions in more than 450 cities worldwide, analysing 39 factors in 10 different categories. The categories listed are as follows:


1.     Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).

2.     Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).

3.     Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).

4.     Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).

5.     Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools).

6.     Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).

7.     Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).

8.     Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).

9.     Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).

10.  Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).


It’s also worth noting that Mercer is a UK company that specialises in providing healthcare, pension plans and other services for employees at international companies. These are highly educated, qualified industry members who are working and/or retiring overseas. So, while the criteria listed above are fitting for the analysis of living standards, they probably aren’t considered from the perspective of those who actually live in the lower-ranking cities in the study.

More to the point, there are almost 4,500 cities around the world, which means Mercer’s data from 450 and a study comprising of less than 300 clearly doesn’t give the full picture – like most studies of this nature.


Written by How Africa

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