Expats find Kampala life better than Nairobi

In Summary

March 15–Expatriates find life in Kampala is better than in Nairobi, Kigali, Dar es Salaam and […]

Kampala was ranked 173 while Nairobi came in at 186 on the Mercer rankings.

Kampala was ranked 173rd while Nairobi came in at 186th in the latest Mercer rankings.

March 15–Expatriates find life in Kampala is better than in Nairobi, Kigali, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa according to the latest quality of living rankings published annually by New York-based international human resource consultancy firm, Mercer.

Skeptical Ugandans should remember that these rankings indicate differences in quality of living factors affecting expatriates in popular assignment destinations. Nairobi however, along with Johannesburg, remain by and large the cities of choice for regional business headquarters, while Addis Ababa still carries the day as Africa’s political centre.

The findings have nothing to do with your average Kampalan struggling with public transport, traffic jams and all the other headaches that this often dusty city can offer up. The survey mostly takes in the views of foreigners working abroad and a follows check-list of conditions. Other rankings have placed Lusaka at 150 and Lagos at 212.


Out of 231 cities with Vienna in Austria at the top and Baghdad at the bottom, Kampala is ranked at 173; Nairobi at 186; Kigali at 192; Dar es Salaam at 199 and Addis Ababa at 209.  However in terms of infrastructure, Singapore ranks first in the world followed by Frankfurt and Munich both in joint second place.


Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Career business said, “Economic instability, social unrest, and growing political upheaval all add to the complex challenge multinational companies face when analysing quality of living for their expatriate workforce.”

Five African cities managed to remain in the top 100 rankings with Port Louis in Mauritius topping the Africa chart at 84. Durban (87) ranked the highest for quality of living within South Africa, closely followed by Cape Town (94) and Johannesburg (96).

On the other extreme there is Brazzaville (224) in the Republic of the Congo, N’Djamena (226) in Chad, Khartoum (227) in Sudan and Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic formed the four lowest-ranked cities for quality of living within Africa.


Bonic said, “For multinationals and governments it is vital to have quality of living information that is accurate, detailed, and reliable. It not only enables these employers to compensate employees appropriately, but it also provides a planning benchmark and insights into the often-sensitive operational environment that surrounds their workforce.”

Slagin Parakatil, the Principal at Mercer and responsible for its quality of living research said, “The success of foreign assignments is influenced by issues such as ease of travel and communication, sanitation standards, personal safety, and access to public services.”

“Multinational companies need accurate and timely information to help calculate fair and consistent expatriate compensation – a real challenge in locations with a compromised quality of living,” he said.

Even with political and economic turbulence, Western European cities continue to enjoy some of the highest quality of living worldwide. Vienna has been at the top for the past eight years. Second this year is Zurich then followed respectively by, Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and a newcomer to the list, Basel (10). In 69th place, Prague is the highest ranking city in Central and Eastern Europe, followed by Ljubljana (76) and Budapest (78).

Mercer’s survey also includes a city infrastructure ranking that assesses each city’s supply of electricity, drinking water, telephone and mail services, and public transportation as well as traffic congestion and the range of international flights available from local airports.

In North America, Canadian cities take the top positions in the ranking. Vancouver (5) is again the region’s highest ranking city for quality of living. Toronto and Ottawa follow in 16th and 18th place respectively, whereas San Francisco (29) is the highest ranking US city, followed by Boston (35), Honolulu (36), New York (44), and Seattle (45).

High crime rates in Los Angeles (58) and Chicago (47) resulted in these cities dropping nine and four places respectively. Monterrey (110) is the highest ranking city in Mexico, while the country’s capital, Mexico City, stands in 128th position. In South America, Montevideo (79) ranks highest for quality of living, followed by Buenos Aires (93) and Santiago (95). La Paz (157) and Caracas (189) are the lowest ranking cities in the region.

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