The Rise Of Africa’s Midi-Cities

Africa’s population is on the rise due to many factors, from political stability to development in agriculture, industrialization, infrastructure, health care and security. It is also becoming obvious that most of the growth due to Urbanization in Africa will exceed the capacity of mega-cities like Lagos, Cairo, Accra but look instead to the midi-cities like Enugu, Abidjan, Durban, and Luanda. What are the factors driving this urbanization trend? Let’s take a look at the information provided.

According to the UN-Habitat, over a third of Africa’s 1 billion inhabitants currently live in urban areas, but by 2030 that proportion will have risen to a half. This can be attributed to positive developments in Africa. The population of some cities is set to swell by up to 85% in the next 15 years. For example, Cairo, will grow by 23% to 13.5m people. By 2025, however, it will have been overtaken by both Lagos (15.8m) and Kinshasa (15m). This will lead to the increases demand on infrastructure as well as housing.

Using Nigeria as a case study, the country began experiencing increased urbanization right after independence. During the 1970s Nigeria had possibly the fastest urbanization growth rate in the world. Because of the great influx of people into urban areas, the growth rate of urban population in Nigeria in 1986 was estimated to be close to 6 percent per year, more than twice that of the rural population. Between 1970 and 1980, the proportion of Nigerians living in urban areas was estimated to have grown from 16 to more than 20 percent, and by 2010, urban population recorded more than 40 percent of the nation’s total.

Although Nigeria didn’t come up on top as regards to urban population as compared to other sub-Saharan Africa cities, it has more large cities with the highest total urban population than any sub-Saharan African country.

In all these, what was not anticipated was the rate at which population would increase with urbanization. The most notorious example of urban growth in Nigeria has undoubtedly been Lagos, its most important commercial center. The city has shot up in size since the 1960s; its annual growth rate was estimated at almost 14 percent during the 1970s and now a whopping 45 percent as at 2010.

In the 1980’s when the Rural-Urban Linkages started, it was first seen as a means to open up the rural population to favor the urban centers in terms of labor and trade. Due to the commuting of people back and forth between the urban and rural areas, rural areas started to experience their share of development even though slowly. Now these areas have become the new avenue for urban development. Why are these midi cities favored over the mega cities presently?

The city of Enugu can be used as a case study in response to the above questions.

Economic Climate:

Opportunities exist in the state for free participation in the economy by the government, private corporate bodies and individuals. A team from a South African company, the South African Terra Exploitation and Development Limited have shown interest in the exploitation of coal and other mineral.

An Israeli Agricultural Team has made an exploratory tour of the state, so that a partnership canbe set up within the government and the Israelis. Petroleum prospecting is going on he in the state with very strong hopes of discovery. All these are indicative of a promising economic climate. The booming economy of the towns with thriving industrial activities forms another important part of the favourable economic climate.

Other business promoting features include the availability of a ready market within and outside the , state for industrial and agricultural products, the ” provision of readymade industrial layouts, the exis tence of modern communication facilities, finance houses and other necessary infrastructure

Industrial Potentialities: 

The 60 million naira NB Ama-Greenfield brewery plant be sitting on Enugu’s industrial patch, N300 million Pepsi/Seven-up plant be neighbouring the new Guinness Nigeria factory also in Enugu, crowning the state as the 9th Mile corner of Enugu as Nigeria’s fastest growing brewery district. There are a few more companies taking advantage of this urbanization trend as midi cities offers space and a more government friendly environment.The potentials for future expansion of industries in the state are immense. The state has a directory of potential a industrial projects to guide prospective investors. in Some of the industries recommended in the profile, based on local availability of raw materials, are rice milling, production of palmkernel oil, maize flour, cassava starch and cashew nut oil for agrobased industries.

Others include sugar and alcohol industry tries, egg and meat processing and packaging, manufacturing of paint, soap, shoe polish, calcium a carbide, creams and ointments, ceramic wares, paper, plastic containers, glass and burnt bricks, an automobile gaskets and oil filters, battery contain “Vers and PVC electrical wires.

Developing infrastructure:  

As at 2011 information and communication technology giant, Rainbownet, geared up to radiate first rate services to the entire Southeast region. Rainbownet has since blossomed into high-risk areas of Fixed Wireless Telephones and VSAT services, thus filling a yawning supply gap in the entire region.

An Emerging Transportation Hub

The lack of a port or strategic waterway has limited the city’s potential as a major import base, however with progress towards an international air cargo hub in nearby Owerri and an inland seaport in Onitsha in addition to rumours of a free trade zone, Enugu is well placed to benefit from growing trade activity in the East. Apart from supporting direct flights to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, the recent internationalisation of the local Akanu Ibiam airport has seen a significant increase in passenger traffic.

In 2025, nearly half of Africa’s urban- dwellers will reside in towns of fewer than half a million people, with cities of one to five million people accounting for 27 percent of the overall urban population – the second-largest slice of the pie. Despite how we think of their larger and more distinguished cousins, these smaller cities have become dominant spaces for urban experience.



Source: PR Lamudi Nigeria is a news platform with in-depth coverage of under-reported issues in rural communities in Nigeria and across Africa. We report on Agriculture, Health, Women and generally on Rural Development. To pitch a story idea or submit a report, please email:

Subscribe to our mailing list