The moderate cost of living in Kampala makes it one of the cheapest cities to live in the world and across Africa, according to the latest annual cost-of-living survey results released by Mercer, a global consulting firm in advancing health, wealth and careers.
According to the survey, which is carried out within 209 cities around the world, Kampala is ranked 183 in the world and 30 out 40 in Africa in 2019. Last year, Kampala emerged 193 in the world and 36 out of 41 in Africa. The rankings mean that the cost of living in Kampala rose slightly over the last twelve months, although it remains moderately cheap.
Africa’s most expensive city is Djamena in Chad, which is ranked number 11 worldwide in 2019, followed by Victoria in the Seychelles with global ranking of 14. Other expensive African cities are Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (number 3 in Africa and 22 worldwide), Libreville in Gabon (24 globally), Lagos in Nigeria (25 worldwide) and Luanda in Angola (26).
The world’s most expensive city is Hong Kong, which has come top for a second year running. It is followed in the top 10 by Tokyo (Japan), Singapore (Singapore), Seoul (South Korea), Zurich (Switzerland), Shanghai (China), Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Beijing (China), New York City (United States), and Shenzen (China).
Eight out of the top ten of the world’s most expensive cities are Asian cities, resulting from high costs for expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market.
This year, there is no African city in the top 10, unlike last year (2018) when Luanda (Angola) emerged the world’s most expensive city and Djamena (Chad) was in the eighth position. In 2017, Angola’s Luanda came top of the survey as the world’s most expensive city, although it was the only African city in the global top 10.
For the East African Community (EAC), the 2019 rankings show that Kampala is the cheapest city to live in out of the four cities graded. Top of the EAC list is Kenya’s Nairobi, which is ranked 97 globally and 19 in Africa. It is followed by Dar (171 globally and 26 in Africa) and Kigali (175 globally and 28 in Africa).
“Each Africa has its own unique economy and this is why multinationals need not approach their expatriate packages for Africa with one single strategy. Let’s look at it this way, a city like N’Djamena in Chad has been listed as the 11th most expensive city in the world, whereas Mali comes in at the 124th position in terms of cost of living,” said Yolanda Sedlmaier, the Principal Leader for Africa Mobility at Mercer, according to a statement from Mercer.
In a rapidly changing world, says Mercer, mobility programs have become a core component of multinational organizations’ global talent strategy.
“Organizations realize that to thrive they must embrace change, adapt to new technologies, and build emerging skills to attract, motivate, and enhance talent,” the statement adds.
Uganda is home to a United Nations (UN) Regional Service centre at the Entebbe International Airport, which is 32 kilometres from Kampala. The regional centre serves UN missions in a dozen African countries, including South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya.
Kampala is also home to a number of multinational and regional companies in the travel, service and hospitality sector such as international airlines, mobile telephone firms, banks, insurance companies, and hotels.
Mercer’s 25th annual Cost of Living Survey finds that a number of factors, including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices, contribute to the overall cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.
New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The survey includes over 500 cities throughout the world; this year’s ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.