What to expect in 2013 from Africa's biggest cities..

  • Lagos will overtake Cairo to become Africa’s largest city.
  • This is confirmation of a decisive shift in Africa away from the ends of the continent and towards its tropical middle. The world has long looked at Cairo, Johannesburg and Cape Town as Africa’s heavyweight cities. This will still make sense economically—their combined GDP is greater than all of eastern and central Africa—but in planning for what comes next, the tropics are where the numbers and opportunities are going to be. Within a decade Lagos will have 16m people; Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will have 15m.
  • Ambitious new city projects like EkoAtlantic in Lagos and Tatu City in Nairobi will be welcomed by a middle class tired of traffic jams, power cuts and insecurity. Such projects are likely to make money, but they will contribute little to giving the poor a sense of ownership of their cities.
  • The standard view of cities as generators of wealth, diversity and ideas will be challenged in Africa. The exclusion of the poor will be magnified by a lack of public space and by rising living costs. To become liveable, cities will have to improve public transport. Many are trying, but safety will be a challenge: murder, and violent carjackings and robberies, will rise in many cities in 2013, sometimes with police involvement.
  • African cities will be the most informal economies in the world in 2013. Some 70% of workers will live on their wits, relying on day labour to make enough to eat, pay rent and send their children to school.
  • Over half of all city-dwellers will be under 18 and every African election in 2013 will be decided, statistically at least, by first-time voters. What will they want? Opportunity, obviously. Beyond that, no one knows. Will young people who have grown up in cities hark back to the countryside, to tribal cultures and languages, or will they forge an urban identity, infused with Pentecostalism or Islam, rap, English Premier League football, and much else besides? What will constitute collective memory in communities without a history? [The Economist]
The Economist . O_O.