Kenyan children read about Australian internet speeds. WorldReader

It has been a long time coming, but more and more African countries and cities are starting to feature prominently on worldwide rankings, and for good reasons. The continent has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, including the fastest growing economy, Ethiopia, which has posted an average annual GDP growth rate of 9.7% over the last four years. Of the top twelve countries in terms of GDP growth rates, six are in Africa. And it is becoming clearer that Africa will be the engine of the world economy for much of this century.

When it comes countries with the cleanest air, Kenya, in East Africa, tops the pile. Not Switzerland. Not Finland. Not New Zealand. In fact, of the next 9 least toxic countries (Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon, Zambia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Congo), only two are not in Africa. That said, here’s a side note: I live in Nairobi, Kenya, and have often complained of the air quality here. Knowing that this is the best one can get around the world is no consolation, but a huge cause for worry about the rest of the world, especially the countries in the Middle East that were ranked worst.

As for average hygiene, Kigali has long been known to be one of the cleanest cities in the world. The Rwandese capital is cleaner than New York and London, and its residents are rather proud of it. They’ll tell you repeatedly if you happen to visit. The city is also the cleanest in Africa. This distinction is the result of a combination of initiatives, like a ban on plastic packaging, monthly communal cleanups and a general sense of responsibility among the residents, who don’t litter despite there being no legal fine for offenders.

Another recent ranking that left the rest of the world gasping concerns internet speeds. Kenya came out 21st, leaving the likes of Germany and Israel in the dust at 25th and 27th respectively, and Australia gasping where the dust has settled at 51st. New Zealand came in at 34th. The Akamai State of the Internet report for Q4 2016 put Kenya’s average internet speeds at 15.0Mbps. The fastest internet, at 26.1Mbps, can be accessed from South Korea.

Perhaps it is partly because of Kenya’s impressive internet speeds that its capital and largest city, Nairobi, has been ranked the 10th most dynamic city in the world by the JLL City Momentum Index, which identifies the “world’s most dynamic cities.” According to its website, the index “tracks the speed of change of a city’s economy and commercial real estate market” and incorporates 42 parameters in its model. Nairobi came ahead of New York, Beijing and Melbourne, as well as 121 other cities included in the list.

There are certainly other rankings that have African countries and cities at the top. Some are good, but some others aren’t very flattering, as in measures of corruption, violence and poverty, where the continent still features rather heavily. But it is encouraging to see that Africa can make a good showing in good rankings that have nothing to do with its pristine savannas and wildlife.

Mathew Otieno writes from Nairobi, Kenya

Zac Alstin

<strong>Zac Alstin</strong> is a writer, editor and stay-at-home dad to two marvellous children, in Adelaide, South Australia. His hobbies include martial arts, making things at home, and contemplating...