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.
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.