The African continent rarely tops the list of destinations for travellers looking to go to work and play. Here are 10 cities for digital nomads in Africa. Africa is rich in history and nowhere else in the world has been inhabited by man for as long, making their extensive, interesting — but difficult — history a unique draw to digital nomads.
In addition to the history, Africa offers such a wide range of climates, from the Sahara in the north to dense jungle, vast savannah and southern scrublands. Humans have shared the continent with Earth's largest mammals for millennia, and despite popular stereotypes, there are plenty of African destinations that are safe, welcoming and prime for the jet setting digital nomad.
Several factors go into making a city a great candidate for digital nomads. Every adventurer has their own priorities, requirements and wishes. These destinations were considered mostly because of their low cost of living, internet speeds and availability, safety, weather, entertainment and their unique customs, cuisine and history.
1. Marrakesh, Morocco
Many digital nomads in Africa are turning to Marrakesh in Morocco, the ancient Berber city to the northwest of the continent, and for good reason. Not only is the city absolutely stunning, with its red sandstone walls, monuments and desert-aesthetic, the internet is consistent but average and welcoming to foreigners and digital nomads. Safety should not be a big worry while travelling in Marrakesh but take precautions as scammers are known to prey on foreigners in the historic city. Digital nomads should expect to budget $1,700 to $1,800 a month to live comfortably. For longer-term or expat living in Marrakesh, $1,200 can be stretched for middle to upper-class lifestyles in the city centre.
Marrakesh has always been steeped in the arts, ever since its peak as an imperial city in the medieval era and hundreds of open-air markets and vendors deal with traditional jewellery and textiles. Musicians and storytellers perform their arts in the streets. Elaborate and intricate gardens and palaces dot the city's outskirts.
2. Kampala, Uganda
Not many have even heard of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, but the city is a great choice for digital nomads. Situated on the border of Lake Victoria, Kampala has slowly emerged as an underrated digital nomad hotspot because of its extremely cheap living costs and temperate climate. Safety is not a huge concern for foreigners and English is widely spoken, but the internet is average at best and poor in some parts of the city. Digital nomads can survive pretty well for fewer than $1,000 a month, even for as little as $600, making it a great choice for nomads with limited funds.
Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming. Digital nomads should also venture a bit out of the city to visit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a sanctuary for half of the world's population of mountain gorillas as well as colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and dozens of bird species.
3. Cairo, Egypt
The ancient Egyptian city of Cairo has emerged as a thriving digital nomad destination. Tech, among other industries, are rising in Cairo and the internet is decent and availability is widespread. Coworking spaces and internet cafes are increasingly abundant. Language can be a bit of a barrier so freshen up before you leave and the city is overall pretty safe. Cairo is by far one of the most affordable destinations on this list which really makes the city shine as a top choice. A budget of $800 a month is plenty to live pretty well on but then can be further reduced to $500 to $600 if nomads are willing to give up a few added comforts.
There is so much to do and see in Cairo that no list can ever be close to exhaustive. The Great Pyramids and The Great Sphinx at the Giza complex are among the most visited ruins in the world. The Egyptian Museum also has plenty to offer in regards to the country's storied history and there are plenty more museums, monuments and ruins to visit. The nightlife scene in Cairo is vibrant and there is plenty to see and do when the sunsets. Plus there is always the rest of Egypt to explore.
4. Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is not only the tech centre of Kenya, but the city is quickly becoming one of the continent's biggest players in the tech field. The fast internet speeds and availability in Nairobi place them near the top of this list. Its coworking spaces and network opportunities make them a great choice. Digital nomads in Nairobi should be careful travelling the city and avoid some of the more dangerous neighbourhoods. A month in Nairobi should run a digital nomad in the $1,100 to $1,300 range.
See the endangered black rhinos as well as giraffes, lions and zebras at the Nairobi National Park, a large game reserve that protects and breeds many of the continent's giant mammals. Venture further out of the city onto a Kenyan safari to see what the continent truly has to offer. While a chance to get close to nature and wildlife is one of Nairobi's biggest draws, the city also offers plenty of markets, bazaars and restaurants to visit.
For the digital nomad, there is plenty of choice in Nairobi with 61 coworking places listed at coworker.com. AXlr8 seems to be a popular choice.
5. Port Louis, Mauritius
The small, tropical island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar has become a booming destination for digital nomads and tech-savvy startups. The white sand beaches and crystal blue seas are a big draw to the island and the capital, Port Louis, has an above-average internet infrastructure. The city is very safe, easy to traverse and many on the island speak English and French. Port Louis is on the higher end for digital nomads with an expected monthly cost of living in the $1,800 to $2,000 range.
For digital nomads who want a destination on the coast, Port Louis and Mauritius is one of the best choices you can make in Africa. Watersports are huge and there is an abundance of activities for enthusiasts including snorkelling, diving, kayaking, parasailing and windsurfing. The south end of the island has plenty of opportunities for hiking and canyoning in the lush forests and mountain peaks. Mauritius also has a dedicated Digital Nomad Visa in place.
The coworker.com has listed a total of 6 coworking spaces on the island. International office operator Regus has places in Port Louis and in Ebene Cybercity.
6. Tunis, Tunesia
The capital of Tunisia, Tunis is an ancient city along the Mediterranean Sea with a unique blend of European and African cultures that cannot be found anywhere else. Tunis offers decent internet relative to the African continent but pales to most of Europe. Tunis has great weather and a wealth of activities for digital nomads. Tunis is also a great launching spot to and from anywhere else in Europe with flights to many of Europe's cities and ferries across the Mediterranean. The cost of living in Tunis is affordable and digital nomads can thrive in the city for around $1,000 a month.
There is plenty to do in and around Tunis and many activities of which tie to the city's African, Carthaginian and Roman histories. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is a resounding fortress worth visiting and many ruins, like the Baths of Antoninus, dot the interior and exterior of the city.
7. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is regarded as the best place in Africa to be a digital nomad. The second-largest city in South Africa has it all, a stunning setting, a great mix of cultures, the table mountain and great beaches nearby (beware of the sharks though). Not far from Cape Town you find some amazing wineries in Stellenbosch. The cost of living is higher than in most other places in Africa but still affordable with monthly outgoings of between $1400 – $1800 needed.
You will not be bored in Capetown from sunset kayaking, hiking, paragliding, mountain climbing, sailing, cage diving with the sharks, wine tours, safaris, and swimming with the penguins and seals. There are plenty of coworking spaces wifi friendly coffee shops. The work-life balance is perfect for the digital nomad. Tourists from most countries can stay on a 3-month visa which is extendable to 6 months.
Cape Town has plenty of coworking spaces with coworker.com listing a total of 51, popular ones are Workshop17 Kloof Street, Cape Town Office and Roam.Work, which includes a production studio for creating video content and podcast recording.
8. Pretoria, South Africa
Pretoria, 60 km north of Johannesburg is South African's administrative capital. It is also known as Jacaranda City due to its mauve blossomed tree-lined streets. The inner city is going through a transformation and Pretoria is becoming more cosmopolitan. Compared to Cape Town the cost of living accommodation wise is a lot cheaper. One-bedroom apartments you can rent here for around $350-$400 per month.
Pretoria is within a 75-minute drive from Johannesburg and there are plenty of nature and game reserves close by.
9. Taghazout, Morocco
Taghazout is a fishing village on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, located north of Agadir. Surfers love this city for the waves, with killer point a powerful point break. South of Taghazout is La Source where fresh water bubbles up from the rocks. Inland there is Paradise Valley where you can find a gorge with pools and waterfalls.
It is easy to reach as Agadir airport with many international connections is close by. The town itself has plenty of cafes, restaurants and surf shops on its main street. The cost of living is about $900-$1000 a month for a Digital Nomad.
10. Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos is the most populated city in Africa with 15 million inhabitants. It is a city with a cosmopolitan and chaotic nature with massive traffic jams to prove it. It has a thriving startup scene and English is spoken, which make it a dream for Digital Nomads.
There are plenty of beach resorts close by and Lagos is known for its international cuisine. Throw in its friendly locals and thriving music scene and Lagos will not disappoint.
Lagos Nigeria has plenty of coworking spaces with the coworker.com listing a total of 87.
As you can see there are plenty of choices for digital nomads in Africa to stay and explore. Make sure before you leave for your digital nomad lifestyle to have the right virtual company setup in place.