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Africa’s Markets are Really Cities, Not Countries

April 20, 2017

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Everyone knows that Africa’s borders bear little resemblance to the true economic and social realities on the ground. While countries are the typical unit of analysis, it’s actually cities that are the most telling.  To engage in Africa’s fast-growing markets today, you need to understand what’s happening in its urban clusters.

So, where are Africa’s biggest, wealthiest, and most networked cities? To answer this question, we created the Fraym Urban Markets Index. The Index measures and ranks the continent’s largest 169 geographic urban clusters on three dimensions: (1) economic activity (using Fraym’s estimate of GDP for cities’ actual geographic footprint), (2) consumer size (the number of people living in a household with a car, motorbike, television, or refrigerator), and (3) connections (a gravity model of trade plus a measure of international flights).

Here’s a teaser of what we’ve found…while Nigeria and South Africa are neck and neck in terms of national GDP, Nigeria has four times as many major urban markets as South Africa.

Watch this space for the full paper explaining the Index and all of our key takeaways, coming soon.

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