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Knight Frank Ranks Nairobi as Top Innovation City in Africa

Kenya’s capital Nairobi has emerged as the most innovative city in Africa according to Horizons Report 2021/22, an annual global report released by London Based real estate consultancy group, Knight Frank.

Nairobi, which is considered as the largest and busiest city in East and Central Africa came top of 500 other cities which were studied in the report beating rivals such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Cairo by leading in three major areas including the number of start-ups, level of innovation funding and innovation infrastructure such as the number of research institutions.

Cape Town (South Africa) was ranked second in the report followed by Kampala (Uganda), Cairo (Egypt), Johannesburg (South Africa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar(Senegal), Accra (Ghana) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).

According to Knight Frank, as more businesses moved their activities online as a result of COVID-19, demand for data infrastructure went up and with more waves of the coronavirus, this trend is expected to spike.

“Cities that score higher for innovation but have less robust economies will attract those willing to take more risk, such as private equity investors. These cities include Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town in South Africa and Kampala, Uganda.” Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank Africa Research Lead.

Additionally, with localization of data in countries such as Ghana and Morocco is expected to realize continuous investment in data centres in Africa.

In terms of data centres capacity, leading markets such as Johannesburg and Nairobi have a total live IT power of 54.9MW and 19.04MW respectively compared to data centre hubs such as Dublin and London whose live IT power stands at 795.8MW and 728.25MW respectively.

The Knight Frank report notes that Africa’s Data Centre markets can be categorized into three distinct tiers. Tier one markets include Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi and already becoming Africa’s leading data centres markets.

Tier two markets such as Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Kampala are essentially cities in the most populous of countries or those with strategic positioning while tier three markets are categorized as low population centres with relatively low ease of doing business.

Overall Review on Nairobi

“Innovation coupled with economic growth will drive the next decade of investment in Africa. Lower risk investors will likely favor cities with above-average innovation scores and a robust economy. These include Cairo, Egypt – the stand-out performer – and Johannesburg, South Africa. These cities have the greatest potential to remain economically resilient in the long-term despite undergoing short-term shocks,” Mwai added.