ACCRA: Africa’s Most Expensive and Most Polluted City

Numbeo index at the end of 2016 shows the city of Accra as the most expensive place to live in Africa with a Cost of Living index of 66.24 and Cost of Living plus Rent index of 58.03. In Africa, Accra is followed by Dar Es Salaam, Harare, Tripoli, Addis Ababa, and Johannesburg who had a cost of living index of 56.20, 52.45, 49.14, 47, and 45 respectively; while leading global cities like Madrid and Lisbon in the cost of living. More so, the city is the most polluted in Africa. Accra, the capital of Ghana, in recent years has received increasing number of expatriates and tourists. Hospitality and Real Estate development is on the boom as the city promises to be one of the most fast developing cities in Africa.

The cost of living index depicts how expensive it is to live in Ghana’s capital. Irrespective of that, pollution seems to be a chronic illness of the city. Poor waste management coupled with the littering attitude of most Ghanaian residents makes the city full of filth. The city in recent years reported a Cholera outbreak which claimed the lives of over 100 people. Currently, plastic waste remains a huge challenge to the waste management sector as there are no robust systems in place to manage plastic waste in the city and across the country. Majority of residents depend on drinking water which are sold in 500ml plastic sachets; on the average people consume at least 3 sachets a day and dispose the sachets improperly (littering). Gathered waste are often transported by waste management services, however, it is also very common to see gathered waste being burnt to reduce its volume. Accra, the city with the highest cost of living in Africa, need to do more to protect the health of its residents.

The rating index indicates that the most expensive cities to live in Africa are also the most polluted. The pollution index of Accra is rated at 102.61 according to Numbeo while World Health Organization (WHO) also puts Accra on a high pollution scale with an index of 98 with respect to Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) and an index of 49 for Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5). Accra, Ghana’s capital, has the highest pollution ranking among the top ten African countries with the highest cost of living. Other top ranking cities such as Dar Es Salaam, Harare, and Addis Ababa had a high pollution index of 81.05, 73.67, 84.52. Conversely, some African countries with low cost of living seems to offer better environmental quality. Rwanda’s Kigali, and Libya’s Tripoli which are ranked as cities with low cost of living had greatest environmental satisfaction to expatriates, tourists, and residents – with an index of 41.72, and 46.31. The pollution ranking is based on factors such as air pollution, noise and light pollution, dirty and untidy streets, garbage disposal, and water pollution.

The index also shows that Accra ranks 247 in the world following Leicester in the United Kingdom and Stuttgart in Germany who both had an index of 66.56 and 66.27 at the end of 2016. Accra is rated above famous cities such as Bonn, Abu Dhabi Sheffield, Oklahoma City, Berlin, San Jose, Madrid, Athens, Lisbon, Beijing, Moscow, and many other cities with ratings far below Accra’s 66.24. Numbeo ratings is mainly based on a mixture of visitors and residents experience in cities across the world. The index is scaled from 0 to 100; with 0 as very low and 100 as very high.

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