Marrakech, Arab cities top Africa list in quality of life

While results are encourag­ing for Africa’s Maghreb, region faces serious concerns, intensified by Libya's conflict.

Magical Marrakech

2017/02/26 Issue: 95 Page: 1

The Arab Weekly
Stephen Quillen

Tunis - Arab cities in the Maghreb were ranked among the best places to live in Af­rica in a new survey con­ducted by Swiss technol­ogy institute Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

The survey, which gauged quality of life in Africa’s top urban centres, looked at factors such as social and living conditions, development, the economy and governance.

Marrakech, a former imperial city in Morocco, came out on top, with three other Moroccan cities — Casa­blanca, Rabat and Fez — making the top ten.

Egyptian cities also ranked high­ly, with Alexandria and Cairo plac­ing third and seventh, respectively. Algiers and Oran, coastal cities in Algeria, ranked 11th and 16th.

Tunis finished sixth out of the 100 African cities surveyed and had the highest overall ranking in the cate­gory of “society”, which considered issues such as education, economic security and social inclusion.

“The strong results (for cities in North Africa) reflect their functional economies, although times are still difficult for Tunisia,” said Jérôme Chenal, a specialist in African cities, who directed the survey.

“In terms of housing, for exam­ple, the region has always had a tra­dition of providing social housing programmes,” he said, adding that North Africa benefits from strong environmental initiatives and its proximity to Europe.

Unlike previous ratings on Africa that were aimed at investors and ex­patriates, Chenal’s survey focused on measuring quality of life for the cities’ inhabitants.

“The purpose of the survey is not just to rate cities but rather to evalu­ate — in the long term — whether the millions invested in programmes are having an effect in everyday people’s quality of life,” said Chenal.

While the results were encourag­ing for Africa’s Maghreb, the region faces serious economic and security concerns, intensified by the conflict in Libya.

Tunisia’s economy took a hit after terrorist attacks drove away tourists in 2015 and 2016 but officials have announced ambitious reforms. In November, the country hosted more than 2,000 business and polit­ical leaders from around the world to bolster the economy and drive development.

In Morocco, tourism numbers have remained strong and the coun­try hopes to double the number of visitors and the revenues they add to the economy by 2020.

Stephen Quillen is an Arab Weekly correspondent in Tunis.

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