With a projected 12.4 million inhabitants in 2015, Lagos is set to become Africa's most populous city, ahead of Cairo's 11 million inhabitants. The projection was contained in a report released on Wednesday by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
The report urged African nations to prepare for massive urban population growth, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria.
According to UN-HABITAT, Cairo, home to 15 per cent of Egypt's population is presently ranked Africa's most populous city with 11.1 inhabitants, ahead of Lagos's current population of 10.9 million. However by 2020, Kinshasa's 12.7 million would also have overtaken Cairo's then 12.5 million population.
Also, Kinshasa will be the fastest-growing city in absolute terms, by no less than four million, a 46 per cent increase for its 2010 population of 8.7 million.
The report said Lagos was the second fastest with a projected 3.5 million addition, or a 33.8 per cent increase.
"Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Cairo, Abidjan, Kano and Addis Ababa will all see their populations increase by more than one million before 2020," it said.
With the average for the 10 proportionally fastest growing cities put at about 51 per cent, the report said, Abuja, Bamako, Luanda, Lubumbashi and Nairobi are projected to grow at rates between 47 peer cent and 50 per cent over the current decade. Similarly, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Mbuji_Mayi and Niamey are projected to grow between 50 per cent and 57 per cent.
Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN_HABITAT, said: "urbanisation is here to stay and within a few decades Africa will be predominantly urban.
"The issue now is for regional and national governments, local authorities and all other stakeholders to pull together to ensure the efficient management of urban agglomerations.
'Smart urban policies could help spread the benefits and lift the continent out of poverty.
The report, entitled "The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequalities and Urban Land Markets", highlighted some positive developments on urbanisation in the continent.
It noted the general reduction in the number of slum dwellers across Africa and the potential of urban corridors across the continent to drive growth, especially of land-locked countries.
However, the report warned that Africa would suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change and that accurate counting of slum dwellers is very difficult, because many poor people move between urban and rural locations in search of work.
Related stories:CNN does special on Lagos