…Lagos, Abuja feature in the list’s top 40
18 June 2015, News Wires – Nigeria’s commercial capital city, Lagos and the nation’s capital Abuja feature prominently in the latest list of the most expensive countries and cities for expatriates to work in.
Cities in hydrocarbons-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) shot up the list, with major oil towns in Africa and Texas also becoming pricier.
Russia’s currency woes on the back of an oil price slump and Western sanctions saw its major urban centres plunge down the list on the 21st Cost of Living Survey compiled by business consultancy Mercer, while a dull North Sea market did not stop Aberdeen becoming more costly.
Luanda, capital of oil-rich Angola, once again grabbed top spot in the list that compared prices of more than 200 items – including housing, transportation and food – in 207 cities against New York, and measured currency movements against the US dollar.
“Despite being recognised as a relatively inexpensive city, the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in (Angola) are available at a steep price,” Mercer said of a country with much of the pre-salt promise on which Brazil has delivered.
Also in Africa, the continent’s top crude producer – Nigeria – boasted two cities in the top 40, with Lagos climbing five places from last year to 20 and the capital Abuja hitting 35, up one place. Near-neighbour Ghana saw capital Accra soar from 118 to 62.
But these rises were nothing compared with cities in the UAE, as Dubai rocketed 44 spots to 23 and neighbour Abu Dhabi up from 68 to 33. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh shot from 111 to 71, major gas producer Qatar’s capital Doha rose from 158 to 99, while Kuwait City was up 30 places to 117.
Currency fluctuations were the major reason for cities either rising or falling year-on-year, and arguably no country was hardest hit in this respect than Russia, with a double-whammy of the slump in global oil prices and sanctions from the US and European union over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The capital Moscow slipped from ninth place to 50, while St Petersburg plummeted from 35 to a mere 152.
Caracas, capital of the country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world, was not even considered by Mercer due to Venezuela’s desperate financial situation, which has left shelves in shopping stores devoid of many basic commodities in a country reliant on crude sales for access to foreign currency.
Brazil’s oil capital of Rio de Janeiro remained steady at 67, down two from last year, but the major US oil-producing state of Texas became more expensive to live in – Houston rising from 143 to 92 and Dallas from 127 to 77.
Services centre London remained in 12th stop, with Oslo down from 20 to 38, Perth down from 37 to 48 and Calgary slipping from 125 to 146. Athletes looking to celebrate victories at the inaugural European Games in Baku are likely to find beers over-priced, with the Azerbaijan capital climbing from 46 to 33.
The top 10 was mainly occupied by Asian and European cities, with Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul joined by Zurich, Geneva and Bern. The Chadian capital of N’Djamena, having reached the heady heights of second last year, was down to a lowly 10th this time around.
Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek propped up the list, just ahead of Windhoek in Namibia, a country still searching for a break-through offshore discovery.