Most Populated Urban Cities in Africa (2024)

Africa is a vast and diverse continent with a rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and urban centers. Urbanization is a prominent trend across the continent, as people migrate to cities in search of better opportunities and improved living standards. Here, we explore the top 10 most populated urban cities in Africa, each contributing significantly to the continent’s economic, cultural, and social dynamism.

(An urban area, or built-up area according to Demographia, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment).

Top 10 Most Populated Urban Cities in Africa (2024)

1. Cairo, Egypt

Population estimate: 19,372,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world. Its metropolitan area, with a population of over 20 million, is the largest in Africa, the Arab world, and the Middle East, and the 6th-largest in the world. Cairo is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area.

2. Lagos, Nigeria

Population estimate: 15,279,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria and the African continent. Lagos is a major financial centre for all of Africa and is the economic hub of Lagos State. The megacity has the fourth-highest GDP in Africa and houses one of the largest and busiest seaports on the continent. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

3. Kinshasa, Congo

Population estimate: 13,528,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Kinshasa is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is situated alongside the Congo River.
The city is Africa’s third-largest urban area after Cairo and Lagos. It is also the world’s largest Francophone urban area (surpassing Paris in population), with French being the language of government, schools, newspapers, and public services.

4. Johannesburg, South Africa

Population estimate: 9,505,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a mega city, and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa.

Johannesburg is the seat of the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa. Most of the major South African companies and banks have their head offices in Johannesburg.

The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. Due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand, within ten years, the population had grown to 100,000 inhabitants. Today that population is over 9 million and many of the populace live in built-up areas.

5. Luanda, Angola

Population estimate: 8,417,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Luanda is the capital and largest city in Angola. It is Angola’s primary port, and its major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola’s northern Atlantic coast, Luanda is Angola’s administrative centre, its chief seaport and also the capital of the Luanda Province.

Luanda and its metropolitan area is the most populous Portuguese -speaking capital city in the world, with over 8.3 million inhabitants in 2020. Among the oldest colonial cities of Africa, it was founded in January 1576 as São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais. The city served as the centre of the slave trade to Brazil before its prohibition.

6. Khartoum, Sudan

Population estimate: 7,282,000

most Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Khartoum or Khartum is the capital of Sudan, its metropolitan area is the largest in Sudan. Khartoum is located at the confluence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as al-Mogran or al-Muqran. From there, the Nile continues to flow north towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

7. Dar es salaam, Tanzania

Population estimate: 6,698,000

Dar es-Salaam is the most populous city in Tanzania and the largest city in East Africa, with a projected population of 6,698,000 living in urban areas.It’s also the third-fastest-growing city in Africa The metro population is predicted to be as high as 76 million by the year 2100.

8. Nairobi, Kenya

Population estimate: 6,020,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya. The name comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to “cool water”, a reference to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. The city proper had a population of 4,397,073 in the 2019 census, while the metropolitan area has a population of 9,354,580.

9. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Population estimate: 5,320,000

Top 10 Urbanized Cities in Africa 2020 Ranking

Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city in Ethiopia. The city which ranks 10th on the list of Most Populated Urban Cities in Africa, serves as the capital city of the Oromia Region. It is where the African Union is headquartered and where its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as well as various other continental and international organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as “the political capital of Africa” for its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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