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Digital Subscriptions > Cities Today > October 2018 > How African cities can play to win

How African cities can play to win

A new report highlights what African cities and governments can do to increase their share of foreign direct investment.
The report uses heat maps to identify the leading regions for attracting foreign direct investment with dark red showing the most attractive and light yellow, the least attractive. Cairo, Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg stand out as investment hubs in the different regions of Africa
Photo: Levering and Wall, 2017

In Africa, cities hold the key to the future of the continent with Africa’s urban population set to triple between now and 2050, but to compete in and connect with the world economy, its governments need to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).

UN-Habitat, IHS Erasmus University Rotterdam (IHS), the University of Witwatersrand and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have teamed up in the State of African Cities 2018 report to reveal what attracts FDI to cities and to provide practical guidance to policymakers on what could improve the economic attractiveness of the continent.

According to Professor Ronald Wall of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Erasmus University Rotterdam, who is the lead researcher and author of the report, the problem is that Africa remains “disconnected from the FDI backbone of the world” and attracts roughly 5 percent of global foreign direct investment. In Africa, Cairo ranks first in attracting FDI, yet globally it ranks 64th (see table 1).

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