Africa has become the fastest urbanizing region of the world, with rural migrants moving into cities a clip that has even surpassed that of China and India, as the continent becomes one of the final frontiers of the forth industrial revolution. This rapid transition presents big challenges but also offers big rewards for countries willing to risk billions in an infrastructure building revolution unlike anything the world has seen before – and no country has answered Africa’s call quite like China.
By 2050, Africa’s 1.1 billion person population is slated to double, with 80% of this growth happening in cities, bringing the continent’s urban headcount up to more than 1.3 billion. The population of Lagos alone is growing by 77 people per hour. According to McKinsey, by 2025 more than 100 cities in Africa will contain over a million people.
With this breakneck pace of urbanization comes many unprecedented economic opportunities. The IMF recently declared Africa the world’s second-fastest growing region, and many are predicting that it is well on its way to becoming a $5 trillion economy, as household consumption is expected to increase at a 3.8% yearly clip to $2.1 trillion by 2025. The attention of the world is now drifting towards Africa, with comparisons to 1990s-era China are no longer coming off as radical projections.
China has likewise become a central player in Africa’s urbanization push, as a huge percentage of the continent’s infrastructure initiatives are being driven by Chinese companies and/or backed by Chinese funding.