10 of Africa's Tallest Buildings

NECOM House, Lagos, Nigeria | © Cynthia Okoroafor
NECOM House, Lagos, Nigeria | © Cynthia Okoroafor
Africa’s skyscrapers are predominantly constructed with a view to situate and promote commercial enterprises. Yet, they make the continent’s skylines more impressive and add to its historic and contemporary image of modernity. Due to an increase in commercial and recreational demands, more modern buildings are springing up, with most seeking to beat existing architectural records. As new constructions commence every other year, here are the ten tallest buildings on the continent presently.

The Carlton Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

Height: 732 feet (223 metres) | No. of floors: 50

The Carlton Centre has held onto the title of Africa’s tallest building since 1973, when it was completed. Its 50th floor is popularly known as the ‘Top of Africa’ and the entire building is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Johannesburg. The building replaced the old Carlton Hotel, which was demolished in the 1960s. The Carlton Centre houses a shopping mall, as well as offices, and there are proposed plans to reopen a hotel within the centre.

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Britam Tower, Nairobi, Kenya

Height: 660 feet (200 metres) | No. of floors: 31 (32 upon completion)

Britam Tower is just nearing completion, and it’s already the second tallest building in Africa. The building is set to serve as the headquarters of Britam Holdings Limited (former British-American Investment Company), but also be open to commercial usage.

Ponte City Apartments, Johannesburg, South Africa

Height: Approx. 568 feet (173 metres) | No. of floors: 55

Ponte City Apartments is the tallest residential building in Africa. Ponte used to be a choice residence in Johannesburg in the 1970s, however the consequences of the country’s apartheid stripped it, and its surroundings in Hillbrow, of its glamour. The cylindrical building has made appearances in blockbuster Hollywood movies such as Resident Evil and District 9.

UAP Old Mutual Tower, Nairobi, Kenya

Height: 535 feet (163 metres) | No. of floors: 33

UAP Tower is an office complex in the fastest growing commercial district of Upper Hill, which opened up its doors to tenants in July 2016. About a year after completion, UAP Tower took over the title of the tallest building in Nairobi from Rahimtulla Tower.

NECOM House, Lagos, Nigeria

Height: 520 feet (160 metres) | No. of floors: 32

NECOM House, also formerly known as NITEL Tower, in Marina, Lagos is the tallest building in West Africa. The building was completed in 1979 with the initial purpose of housing the Nigeria External Communications (NECOM) headquarters, but now serves general commercial uses. At the top of the building is a communications point that acts as a lighthouse for Lagos Harbour.

NECOM House, Lagos, Nigeria © Cynthia Okoroafor

PSPF Towers A and B, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Height: 502 feet (153 metres) | No. of floors: 35

The PSPF Commercial Twin Towers are the tallest buildings in Tanzania, and an architectural beauty. The identical buildings were completed in 2014, and cater largely to expatriates and other business people within proximity of its neighbourhood and beyond. Shop and eat out at the ground and mezzanine floors, and catch a view of the Indian Ocean from the 22nd to the 31st floor.

Pearl Dawn, Durban, South Africa

Height: 499 feet (152 metres) | No. of floors: 31

Pearl Dawn (or The Pearls of Umhlanga) is the fourth tallest building in South Africa. The prime residential location consists of tasteful self-serviced apartments within walking distance of the Indian Ocean.

Marble Tower, Johannesburg, South Africa

Height: 499 feet (152 metres) | No. of floors: 32

Marble Towers, which is located in the Central Business District of Johannesburg, is in fact partly constructed with marble. It primarily houses commercial outlets and features the largest electronic sign in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also known as Sanlam Centre.

South Africa Reserve Bank Building, Pretoria, South Africa

Height: 490 feet (150 metres) | No. of floors: 38

The South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) Building houses the most important bank in South Africa, which was the fourth central bank in the world to be located outside of Europe and the United Kingdom. The building was completed in 1986 and received the South African Property Owners Association’s Building Merit Award in 1988, as well as the South African Institute of Architects’ Merit Award in 1989.

Metlife Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

Height: 490 feet (150 metres) | No. of floors: 28

The Metlife Centre building is currently Cape Town’s tallest skyscraper. Its scenic views include the famous Table Mountain, Table Bay, and Robben Island. The building is also known as the Metropolitan Centre and is directly opposite the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).