Nairobi falls sharply in global ranking of world’s best cities

A view of Nairobi skyline. PHOTO | SALATONNJAU

Nairobi’s ranking in a global survey of living conditions has dropped to the lowest position due to its slower pace of development than other cities.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey, which was released yesterday, ranks Kenya’s capital at position 125 in the list of 140 cities that are pleasant to live in from 120 last year

The EIU survey ranks cities based on categories such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, stability alongside culture and environment — the only category in which Nairobi has been performing well.

“Nairobi got a higher point score than last year but other cities around it increased by more,” Roisin Miller of EIU told the Business Daily.

The rankings offer a sneak preview of a country’s level of development and are used as a tool to guide companies setting shop in new countries and paying expatriates.

It also determines a city’s ability to attract and retain foreign investment, expatriates and tourists.
Nairobi’s low ranking could help multinationals justify high salaries and hardship allowances they pay staff stationed in the city.

“Companies pay a premium (usually a percentage of a salary) to employees who move to cities where living conditions are particularly difficult and there is excessive physical hardship or a notably unhealthy environment,” the poll says.

Nairobi dropped from position 120 last year after improving two places from position 122 in 2014 and 125 in 2011 — when the EIU survey was first launched.

The report shows that Kenya’s capital has remained in the bottom 20 of global cities with the best living conditions for six years in a row.

Nairobi dwellers continue to be saddled with challenges daily, including crime, poor roads, traffic jams, poor garbage disposal and unstable electricity supply — consigning the city to the tail end of the ranking.

“The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location, and allows for direct comparison between locations,” the report says.

In Africa, Kenya’s capital comes in at position five as the most pleasant city to live in ahead of Cairo.

Johannesburg is the best African city to live in at position 92 globally, followed by Pretoria, Tunis and Casablanca.

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