MasterCard African Cities Growth Index 2013

January 1, 2014

This is an Index created to assess the key African cities’ growth potential, especially from the perspective of inclusive growth. Two sets of indicators are constructed: the leading indicators and the lagging indicators, to rank empirically 19 of the most important cities in Sub-Sahara-Africa. The ranking points to the prospects of sustainable and inclusive growth in these cities in the coming years.

Without exaggeration, the fast growing African cities are the new battleground for the future of the region. Fast population growth on its own guarantees nothing, the popular notion of demographic dividends notwithstanding. For example, much of the development failure of the post-independence period in Sub-Sahara Africa is reflected in high population growth without commensurate economic growth.

In 18 out of the 35 years between 1960 and 1995, per capita GDP growth was negative in Sub-Sahara Africa. In other words, in this three-and-a-half decade period, Sub-Sahara Africa’s population grew faster than its economy 72% of the time. In the coming years, Africa’s urban population will be fast expanding, and without sustainable and inclusive growth, the region’s cities could become dysfunctional.

The African Cities Growth Index is a new roadmap for understanding the urban future of the region. In this regard, it is encouraging to see that the best ranking cities according to the ranking of the 2013 Index are neither the biggest, nor always located in countries with strong resource endowment. Instead, having the right policies and the capability of effective implementation of the policies, especially in governance and investment in infrastructure, basic health and education are strongly correlated with higher ranks in the Index.

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