Abidjan is the 6th largest city in Africa

UN Habitat has just released a report called The State of African Cities 2010 – Governance Inequality and Urban Land Markets

There’s lots of interesting stuff in it.  First of all that Abidjan is the 6th largest city in Africa and is projected to overtake Alexandria to become the 5th largest. I had no idea.


Source: UN Habitat (open image to enlarge)

A lot of fast population growth is already behind Abidjan, but there is plenty in the future as all well, although the rate of growth for Abidjan is projected to decline slowly.

Projected population growth rates:

  • For Abidjan:  2.9% annually from now to 2025  (a 53% increase)
  • For the whole of the Ivory Coast: 2.2% from now to 2025 (a 38% increase)

In the post about population growth I got the 2.2% figure for the Ivory Coast as a whole, and estimated that urbanisation would make the figure for Abidjan higher without really knowing how much higher.  So 2.9% it is.

The 2.9% figure is interesting not only to get an idea of demand, but also to estimate whether permanent jump upwards in inflation-adjusted real estate prices will occur in some areas of Abidjan as discussed in the A Very Long View on House Prices post.  I’d say that 2.9% growth is a good base for core city areas to expand and permanently increase in value, but it depends a lot on (much less predictable) economic growth as well.

About Abidjan in the UN Habitat report:

Formal urban land markets systematically serve the wealthy who can afford the best land and housing options, while driving out the poor. The latter are then forced into informality in the least desirable, if not uninhabitable urbanareas, such as low-lying and flood-prone lands, factory fringes, garbage dumps, road reserves, etc.

Likewise in Abidjan: the rich Plateau neighbourhood has extended deeply into the popular neighbourhood of Adjamé, driving out the original, economically less affluent residents, while the middle-class neighbourhoods of Cocody and Riviera are built right up against the infamous low-income neighbourhood of Abobo. In Abidjan, spatial fragmentation is heightened by the presence of the Ebrié lagoon which, in some places, sharply demarcates urban neighbourhoods.

When I visited Abidjan, I did get a feeling that the city was in the midst of a building boom, and that maybe they were even building for more than the population growth warranted. However, most new construction seemed to be aimed at mid and upper income people, and better-off areas seemed to be  expanding whereas low income areas didn’t, just as per the UN Habitat report text above.

Since the bulk of Abidjan’s population growth is taking place in low-income areas, it looks to me that the under-supply of low income housing is getting worse, while possibly at the same time an oversupply of middle and upper income houses and apartments is created.

I recall that I had many more prospective tenants for the 23€-a-month apartments in Yopougon than I could house – and that was without using ads or anything.  Finding a tenant for the house in Cocody was on the other hand much harder and took many months.


2 thoughts on “Abidjan is the 6th largest city in Africa

  1. Craig Hitchcock

    Interesting item! I didn’t realise it either.

    the last estimate I saw (probably a year ago) was that there was a need for 45,000 houses a year (which seems very low to me, considering the population of Abidjan (estimated at over 4 million), and the high birthrate 32.73 per 1,000 (2008). http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_bir_rat-people-birth-rate

    It is generally assumed that low income groups have a higher birthrate than higher income groups

    For your property in Cocody, why didn’t you place it with an Agent … doesn’t cost you a single franc … the lessee pays a fee, usually one months rent?

  2. I saw a figure of 50,000 (wrote about it here: https://hotelivory.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/fundamentals-of-the-property-market-construction/)

    Maybe it isn’t too high. Let’s say Abidjan’s population is 4 million and grows with 3% a year (UN Habitat says 3.58 million and 2.9%) – that’s 120,000 new inhabitants per year. 45,000 houses should be more than enough for them.

    Guess it’s more like 20,000 middle and upper income residents will need 5,000 new houses or so, and the rest will make existing dwellings in places like Yopougon and Abobo more crowded.

    Regarding the property in Cocody: have had the same tenant for over three years now, and they have expressed an interest to stay for many more years so it’s not an issue at the moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s