Digital nomads are location-independent workers who use technology to perform their jobs while travelling the world. They are always searching for new locations to work, explore, experience and add to their lists of visited cities. They also love places where they can simultaneously explore, work remotely, and learn about the local culture and the local people.
Digital nomads require certain things to work efficiently aside from their laptops. Some of these things are stable internet, security, co-working hubs, charming cities, etc. The availability of these things will impact the quality of the nomad’s work.
For people trying to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, I curated a list of the best cities to work from in Africa. Although not exhaustive, the methodology for selection was based on internet ranking (Speed test Global Index, by Ookla, a mobile and broadband network intelligence firm), availability of co-working hubs, the existence of a tech ecosystem, and beautiful places to see.
The cities includes Nairobi, Kenya; Cape Town, South Africa; Cairo, Egypt; Marrakesh, Morocco; Kigali, Rwanda; Lagos, Nigeria; Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire and Accra, Ghana.
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is a leading African city hosting several prominent tech companies. Internet download speed in Kenya is 24.94 Mbps which is relatively fair compared to other African cities. With the entry of ICANN into Kenya, internet speed will get better with time in the coming months.
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Digital nomads in Kenya can get close to nature by seeing wildlife at any Kenyan safaris. The city also offers plenty of markets, bazaars and restaurants to visit. There are more than 87 co-working hubs in Nairobi, Kenya to choose from.
African citizens visiting can enter Kenya through a visa on arrival, and stay up to 30 days. However, other nationalities need to apply for a single entry visa, multiple entry visa or an East African Tourist Visa.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa offers digital nomads a lot to see in terms of culture, scenery and lifestyle. The city hosts more than 450 startups in the Silicon Valley of South Africa. The broadband internet in South Africa is one of the fastest on the continent with a median download speed of 46.05 Mbps.
Some beautiful places to see in Cape Town are the Wander Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the Table Mountain National park, a cruise along Chapman's Peak Drive, the Cape Town Museum and many more. More than 59 co-working hubs are available to work in Cape Town, South Africa.
Currently, there’s no South Africa digital nomad visa program. Although, a temporary residence visa can be acquired to stay in South Africa for more than 90 days.
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Cairo, an ancient Egyptian city, is emerging as a thriving digital nomad destination. Although technology is growing in the city, internet mobile signals are decent. The median download speed in Cairo, Egypt is 21.42 Mbps.
Blessed with a rich history and culture, digital nomads working from Cairo will be spoiled for places to visit. From the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Sphinx, to the Egyptian museum, the Al-Azhar Park and many more. There are more than 87 Coworking Spaces in Cairo.
Obtaining an Egyptian visa varies depending on the digital nomad’s nationality. Egypt issues visa-free to citizens of some countries, an electronic visa, a visa on arrival to others and a visa before travelling.
A digital nomad looking for a city bubbling with creativity, culture, art and commerce would do well considering Marrakech, Morocco. The city blessed with red sandstone walls, monuments and desert aesthetics has a relatively modest internet. As of Q4 2021, the speed score in Morocco was 67.26 on modern chipsets.
The beautiful places digital nomads can see in Marrakech, Morocco are the Bahia Palace, the Manara Garden, the Toubkal National Park, the traditional market of Jemaa el-Fnaa, etc. Digital nomads can check out available coworking hubs in Marrakech, Morocco.
Morocco offers visa-free entry to citizens of an impressive number of countries. But other citizens can process a Morocco Tourist Visa if they intend to stay for up to 90 days.
Kigali, Rwanda was announced the safest Africa city in Africa in 2020 by WEF. Digital nomads visiting can happily stroll along the park-line boulevards, valleys and distant hills. Rwanda's median download speed is 30 Mbps.
Some alluring places to see in Kigali are Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, National Volcano Park, Inema Art Centre, King's Palace Museum, Akagera National Park. There are more than 5 coworking hubs in Kigali, Rwanda.
Digital nomads visiting Rwanda can obtain any of the following visas depending on the class, reason and duration of their stay: Single entry visa, multiple entry visa, business, etc.
Lagos is the most populated city in Africa with over 20 million inhabitants. Aside from the traffic jams associated with the city, Lagos has a cosmopolitan nature, friendly locals and a thriving tech startup scene. The median download of fixed broadband in Lagos, Nigeria is 21.34 Mbps.
Although not a typical tourist destination, Lagos has some beautiful places to see. Some of these places are the Lekki conservation centre, Terra Kulture, Jhalobia Recreation Parks and Garden, Tarkwa Bay, the Nike Art Centre, etc. There are more than 108 coworking hubs in Lagos, Nigeria.
To visit Nigeria, digital nomads can obtain a tourist visa, business visa, temporary work visa permit or a visa subject to regularisation. These Nigerian visas allow the holders to stay in the country for up to 6 months.
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
A lesser-known choice, Abidjan is an efficient city with basic infrastructure (like good roads, less traffic and a stable power supply) to help digital nomads blend in seamlessly. Abidjan’s fastest internet median speed is 38.86 Mbps.
The best places digital nomads in Abidjan can go for sightseeing are the beach of Assinie-Mafia, The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, L’ile Flottante, Banco National park, etc. More than 10 co-working hubs are available in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire for digital nomads to work.
There are various types of visas in Cote d’Ivoire depending on the duration and of the digital nomad’s stay. A short-stay visa is valid for a maximum of 3 months, and a long-term visa is valid for one year.
Accra, the administrative capital of Ghana, is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in West Africa. Twitter’s announcement that it will set up its African headquarters in Accra solidifies the city’s position as a hotspot for tech-savvy foreigners and digital nomads. Accra’s median fixed broadband download speed is 22.74 Mbps.
Captivating places to visit in Accra are Kokrobite beach, Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, Legon Botanical gardens, Jamestown Cafe, etc. There are more than 28 co-working hubs in Accra.
Digital Nomads visiting Ghana can apply for a single re-entry visa or a multiple re-entry visa which is valid for 90 days and 180 days respectively from the date of issuance.
These cities are also worthy of mention on the lists: Port Louis, Mauritius; Tunis, Tunisia; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Kampala, Uganda; Victoria, Seychelles (they have a digital nomad visa) etc. These African cities are attractive and welcoming to foreigners. Their infrastructures make it easy for digital nomads to live and work there.