The world’s megacities of 2100 … Lagos, Kinshasa, Dar Es Salaam …mind-blowing growth of Africa’s urban populations

August 17, 2018

Throughout the course of human history, the biggest cities have always seemed impossibly large.

For many millennia, it was almost unfathomable for a city to sustain more than 1 million residents. In fact, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the largest cities globally, such as London and Beijing, were able to consistently hold populations beyond that impressive mark.

Despite this, in the modern era, we’ve quickly discovered that a city of 1 million people isn’t remarkable at all. In China alone, there are now over 100 cities with a million people today – and as such, our mental benchmark for what we consider to be a “big city” has changed considerably from past times.

Forget Tokyo, New York, London

Today, the largest cities in the world are Tokyo and Sao Paulo with 36 million people, followed by Shanghai with 28m, New York with 23m … and London a long way behind with 10m people. Just like a city the size of modern Tokyo was hard to imagine for someone living in the 19th century, it can be an extremely difficult thought experiment for us to visualize what future megacities will look like.

Researchers at the Global Cities Institute have provided in-depth forecasts that have been visualised by VisualCapitalist to show the potential megacities of the future, extrapolating a variety of factors to project a list of the 101 largest cities in the years 2010, 2025, 2050, 2075, and 2100.

The world’s largest cities in 2100

According to the report, human geography will look completely unfamiliar by the turn of the century. Here is a list of the 20 largest megacities projected for 2100:

Population (2100) City Country
#1   88.3 million Lagos Nigeria
#2   83.5 million Kinshasa DRC
#3   73.7 million Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
#4   67.2 million Mumbai India
#5   57.3 million Delhi India
#6   56.6 million Khartoum Sudan
#7   56.1 million Niamey Niger
#8   54.3 million Dhaka Bangladesh
#9   52.4 million Kolkata India
#10   50.3 million Kabul Afghanistan
#11   49.1 million Karachi Pakistan
#12   46.7 million Nairobi Kenya
#13   41.4 million Lilongwe Malawi
#14   40.9 million Blantyre City Malawi
#15   40.5 million Cairo Egypt
#16   40.1 million Kampala Uganda
#17   40.0 million Manila Philippines
#18   37.7 million Lusaka Zambia
#19   36.4 million Mogadishu Somalia
#20   35.8 million Addis Ababa Ethiopia

By the year 2100, it’s estimated that 13 of the world’s largest megacities will be located in Africa. Meanwhile, India will hold three of them – and there will be zero of them found in the Americas, China, or Europe.

#1: Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is expected to push the limits of how big a metropolis can get. Already, Lagos has seen explosive growth over the past few decades, and is growing so fast that no one really knows how many people live there. Over 2,000 people emigrate to the city every day, and current population estimates vary widely from 11 to 21 million inhabitants. Either way, by the turn of the century, Lagos is projected to have a population north of 88 million.

#2: Kinshasa, DRC
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is projected to be the second largest city in the world with a population of 83 million.

#3: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar Es Salaam, a city on the coast of Tanzania, has a population of just 4.4 million today. By 2100, its population is projected to jump by a whopping 1,588%, putting the total at 74 million inhabitants.

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