Most influential city in South Africa

A new research report has evaluated which global cities are positioned as the most connected, technologically advanced and financially influential across the globe.

Johannesburg has been ranked as the most influential global city in Africa, however, it is still some way off the world’s most influential global cities – London and New York.

South Africa’s economic hub was ranked 31st out of 58 cities evaluated.

The research paper, organised by the Civil Service College of Singapore and conducted in association with Chapman University, evaluated 58 metropolitan areas across the globe in eight categories, looking at:

  • Air connectivity (connected to other global cities);
  • Diversity;
  • Foreign Direct Investment;
  • Corporate Headquarters;
  • Producer Services;
  • Financial Services;
  • Technology and media; and
  • Industry Dominance.

London outranked all other global cities due to its status as the capital of the British empire and its role as a global financial centre.

New York ranked a close second (40 points versus London’s 42), as home to the world’s top investment banks and funds, with global primacy in terms of stock market volumes – four times bigger than Tokyo, and ten times larger than London.

“No other place is close to either of these great cities in our rankings. They possess mostly everything — power in finance, great global connectivity, diversity, a powerful media — that expresses global influence in a depth unmatched anywhere else.”

Except for London and Paris, however, the study notes that most other European cities have faded from top spots on the list. While quality life remains high in European cities, poor fiscal conditions have had an impact on their global positioning.

Top 10 most influential cities

Rank City
1 London
2 New York
3 Paris
4 Singapore
5 Tokyo
6 Hong Kong
7 Dubai
8 Beinjing
8 Sydney
10 Los Angeles
10 San Francisco Bay Area
10 Toronto

African performance

The group noted that while economic growth and urbanization are happening rapidly in Africa, none of the continent’s cities ranked highly on the list.

Johannesburg and Lagos were the only two African cities ranked amongst the top global cities, with South Africa’s economic hub ranking 31st alongside Kuala Lampur and Mumbai, while Nigeria’s economic hub ranked at the bottom of the list, tied with four other cities at 47th.

Nairobi and Kinshasa did not make the top 50, the group noted.

“The problems of Africa reflect those of much of the developing world outside a few Middle Eastern cities — insufficient sanitation, political instability, and inadequate infrastructure — unacceptable for a successful 21st century global city.”

“Over time, it is hoped that Africa, as well as Latin America, could develop into serious global cities as economic growth shifts to these parts of the world,” the report’s authors said.

“Fortunately, some progress in developing modern infrastructure is being made in cities such as Johannesburg. Yet…progress will be slow in developing a viable African urbanism,” the researchers found.

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Most influential city in South Africa