Cairo, Casablanca, and Algiers—why are these three megacities the centers of business in North Africa?
North African Business Hubs
North Africa seems to be in the process of recovery after going through a tumultuous decade, which included regime changes and even wars throughout the 2010s.
In the beginning of 2022, economists had forecasted that the region would “grow by 5.5% in 2022 (the fastest rate since 2016) and by 3.5% in 2023,” according to the World Bank.
Now that 2022 is coming to a close, it is clear that while some North African economies have failed to live up to such expectations, many of them have seen reasonable growth.
Indeed, the region’s three largest economies—Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco—have seen the rise of business activity in 2022, and are expected to continue doing so in 2023.
All this has enlivened the business hotspots of the region. Below is a list of three North African business hubs that play a significant role in the continent’s economy.
The capital of Egypt—and the largest metropolitan area in Africa—is one of the most bustling North African business hubs.
Helwan, located on the outskirts of Cairo, is home to the factories and headquarters of many Egyptian heavy industries such as steel, automotive manufacturing, and textiles.
Also on the outskirts of Cairo lies Egypt’s Tarboul Industrial City.
Upon its completion, Tarboul will house 350 heavy industries, making it the largest industrial zone in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The enterprise is so massive that it will include its own polytechnic to train its human resources.
Tarboul is still an ongoing project, whose “first phase investments amount to USD3 billion,” according to Egypt Independent.
Cairo is, at the same time, home to soft industries such as news agencies, films studios, and media groups that feed the MENA region. The Cairo-based Arabic-language daily, Al-Ahram, has one of the highest readerships in the Arab world.
Since the 1990s, many media businesses have clustered together in the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC) near Cairo.
The port city of Casablanca is Morocco’s biggest city and arguably one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the continent.
Known for its glamour and Art Deco architecture, Casablanca is hugely popular with Western tourists. Tourism, therefore, remains the city’s most valuable industry.
Casablanca, however, is more than a tourist attraction. The city plays a critical role in Europe-North Africa trade, and is one of the most important North African business hubs.
The city’s already sophisticated finance sector has seen further growth since the economic recovery after COVID-19.
“Casablanca Finance City topped the continental ranking in the financial centres index,” reported The North Africa Post, citing data released by Long Finance & Financial Centre Futures.
The city is also home to headquarters of companies controlling Morocco’s fishing fleet and its strategic phosphate exports—which are of strategic importance for agriculture and food security around the world.
Despite being smaller than the two previous North African megacities, Algiers is an influential North African economic hub.
The city’s industrial powerhouse, the Rouiba-Reghaia industrial zone, is a center of heavy industries, where automotive assembly lines, chemical plants, and food processing units are operational.
This latter category is of particular importance as Algiers has emerged as the core of Algerian agribusiness in recent years.
A number of agrifood startups have set up shop in Algiers over the past five years. Roughly 120 small and medium businesses (SMEs) based in Algiers have managed to raise USD1.1 billion between 2017 and 2022, half which was invested after 2020. This indicates good prospects for the city’s agribusiness sector.