South African cities getting crushed by African peers

The fastest-growing city in Africa is Addis Ababa, with an annual GDP growth rate of 9.5%. The best-performing South African city, Johannesburg, only ranks 29th with a growth rate of 2% per annum. 

This is from McKinsey’s Global Institute report titled Reimagining economic growth in Africa, released at the beginning of June. 

This report shows that South Africa has consistently underperformed its African peers over the last two decades. 

Only the Central African Republic has grown slower than South Africa, with Africa’s most developed economy growing at less than 2% per annum on average.

McKinsey now classes South Africa as a “slow grower” when ranking the continent’s economies, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) falling at the fastest rate of all African countries besides Nigeria.

While South African cities are growing faster than the country’s economy, they do not fare well when compared to other African cities.

Johannesburg has grown its economic output by 2% on average for the last decade, with Cape Town having managed a rate of 1.7%. The country averaged GDP growth of 1.6% in the same period. 

However, McKinsey pointed out that Cape Town is “thriving” with the city adopting policies and making investments that illustrate how local economies can be invigorated. 

Public-private partnerships in Cape Town have attracted over 20 additional direct flights from major global markets in the last decade.

This has brought the annual number of tourists visiting Cape Town above 2 million, with the tourism industry supporting over 200,000 jobs in the city. 

McKinsey said that Cape Town should be seen as a case example of how to stimulate so-called ‘second cities’ and enhance their economic output. 

Below are the ten fastest-growing cities in Africa compared to South Africa’s two fastest-growing cities. 

CityCountryAverage annual growth rate over the last decade
Addis AbabaEthiopia9.5%
Kumasi Ghana8%
AbidjanIvory Coast7.9%
OuagadougouBurkina Faso7.8%
Dar es SalaamTanzania7.3%
Kinshasa DRC7.2%
Lubumbashi DRC6.8%
Johannesburg (29th)South Africa2%
Cape Town (30th) South Africa1.7%


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