Mercer’s 2021 ranking found that Lusaka in Zambia is the cheapest city to live in Africa, while Tunis was ranked second place.
Asset manager Mercer has published its cost of living city ranking, showing the most expensive places for expats to live in around the world.
This year’s ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.
The rankings provide important insight for multinationals on the cost of recruiting or relocating an expatriate in Africa, and also help human resources leaders to structure a remuneration package to attract the right skills for an assignment, said senior associate at Mercer Africa Stevens Kawoubouga.
“This is because a more expensive destination for expatriates makes it costly to multinationals, since the cost of sending an employee on an assignment increases,” he said.
Globally, Mercer’s 2021 ranking found that N’Djamena in Chad is the most expensive city in Africa, while Lagos was ranked second place.
Libreville was ranked third, Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire and Bangui in Central African Republic was ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
Africa’s least expensive cities for international employees, according to Mercer’s survey, are Lusaka in Zambia, Tunis in Tunisia and Windhoek in Namibia, which ranked as the first, second and third cheapest cities to live in Africa.
The Cheapest Places to Live in Africa, 2021
1. Lusaka, Zambia
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. It is also one of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa. The city’s population was about 3.3 million, while the urban population is estimated at 2.5 million in 2018. The city is the economic and financial hub of Zambia, serving as the country’s main gateway to the rest of the world and largest business centre. English is the official language of the city administration, while Nyanja and Bemba are the commonly spoken street languages. Lusaka is the cheapest city in Africa as of 2021.
2. Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis is the heartland of the Tunisian economy and is the industrial and economic hub of the country. According to the Mercer 2017 Cost of Living Rankings, Tunis has the second lowest cost of living for expatriates in the Africa.
3. Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of Namibia. The city is the administrative, commercial, and industrial center of Namibia. Its Official language is English.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Windhoek has the third lowest cost of living for expatriates in Africa.
4. Gaborone, Botswana
Gaborone is the capital and largest city of Botswana with an estimated population of about 278,712.
The city is the economic capital as well as the government capital.
The city is the fourth cheapest city to live in Africa.
5. Algiers, Algeria
Algiers, capital of Algeria is known for the whitewashed buildings of the Kasbah, a medina with steep winding streets, Ottoman palaces and a ruined citadel.
Algiers is an important economic, commercial and financial center, with in particular a stock exchange with a capitalisation of 60 million euros. The city has the second lowest cost of living of any city in North Africa.
6. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa is the largest city in Ethiopia, with, according to the World population review, Addis Ababa has an estimated population of 5,005,524 inhabitants.
There are between 45 and 86 languages spoken in Ethiopia. Amharic is the government’s official language and a widely used lingua franca.
English is the most widely spoken foreign language which is also taught in many schools. The city has the 6th lowest cost of living of any city Africa.
7. Blantyre, Malawi
Blantyre is a city in the Shire Highlands, in southern Malawi. The city is known for its British colonial architecture and nearby parks and reserves.
Blantyre City is the commercial and industrial capital of Malawi and is by far the major employment generator in the country.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Blantyre has the seventh lowest cost of living for expatriates in Africa.
8. Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa. The city is the economic and financial hub of South Africa. Most of the major South African companies and banks have their head offices in Johannesburg.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Johannesburg is the eighth cheapest place to live Africa.
9. Port loius, Mauritius
Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius. The city is the country’s economic, cultural and political centre, and most populous city.
The economy of the city is mostly dominated by its financial centre, port facilities, tourism and the manufacturing sector.
The city is the 9th cheapest city to live Africa.
10. Maputo, Mozambique
Maputo is the capital and most populous city of Mozambique. Maputo is a port city, with an economy centered on commerce. It is also noted for its vibrant cultural scene and distinctive, eclectic architecture.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Maputo is the tenth cheapest place to live Africa.
11. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative capital of South Africa.
Cape Town is known for its harbour, for its natural setting in the Cape Floristic Region, and for landmarks such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Capetown has the eleventh lowest cost of living for expatriates in Africa.
12. Nouakchott, Mauritania
Nouakchott is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahel. The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania.
According to the Mercer 2017 Cost of Living Rankings, Nouakchott has the twelfth lowest cost of living for expatriates in Africa.
13. Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. The city has been Rwanda’s economic, cultural, and transport hub since it became the capital following independence from Belgian rule in 1962.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Kigali is the 13th cheapest place to live in Africa.
14. Kampala, Uganda
Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. The city proper has a population of 3,470,000. Kampala is reported to be among the fastest-growing cities in Africa, with an annual population growth rate of 4.03 percent.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, the city is the 14th cheapest city to live in Africa.
15. Dar es salam, Tanzania
Dar es Salaam is the largest city and Business capital of Tanzania. With over six million people, it is the largest city in East Africa and the fifth-largest in Africa. Dar es Salaam is also an important economic centre and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
The city which is Known for its beaches, islands, seafood is the fifteenth cheapest city to live in Africa according to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings.
16. Victoria, Seychelles
Victoria is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Seychelles, situated on the north-eastern side of Mahé island, the archipelago’s main island. The city was first established as the seat of the British colonial government.
Tourism is an important sector of the economy.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Victoria in Seychelles is the16th cheapest city to live in Africa
17. Rabat, Morocco
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and the country’s seventh largest city with a population of approximately 1,907,000.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Rabat is the 17th cheapest city to live in Africa
18. Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya. Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture.
Nairobi is the eighteenth cheapest place to live Africa, according to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings.
19. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso and the administrative, communications, cultural, and economic centre of the nation. It is also the country’s largest city, with a population of 2,453,496 in 2019.
According to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings, Ouagadougou is the 19th cheapest place to live Africa.
20. Harare, Zimbabwe
Harare is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe. Harare is Zimbabwe’s leading financial, commercial, and communications centre, as well as an international trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits.
The city is the 20th cheapest place to live in Africa according to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living Rankings.
The Most expensive Places to Live in Africa, 2021
1. N’Djamena, Chad
2. Lagos, Nigeria
3. Libreville, Gabon
4. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
5. Bangui, CAR
6. Brazzaviile, Congo
7. Kinshasa, DR Congo
8. Yaonde, Cameroon
9. Dakar, Senegal
10. Djibouti, Djibouti
Mercer’s annual Cost of Living city ranking is based on our Cost of Living survey – one of the most recognized and comprehensive of its kind, with more than 400 cities included. Carried twice per year, the survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments around the world determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees.