Cairo, Rabat and Casablanca, among other African cities, are competing to build the tallest tower in Africa.

In the 20th century, only a handful of major financial and commercial centres had tall skyscrapers, including Cairo, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. Since the 2000s, skyscrapers have been built in many other African cities, including Cairo, Rabat, Casablanca, Algiers, El Alamein, Durban, Cape Town, Maputo, Rabat, Abuja, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Alexandria, Harare, Abidjan, Luanda and Port Louis.

The tallest skyscraper is currently the Iconic Tower in Egypt, standing at 393.8 metres.

The Iconic Tower is a skyscraper in Cairo. Its total height is almost 400 metres. It has 77 floors, mainly for offices, and is one of 20 towers being built as part of the Egyptian capital’s central business district. Construction of the Iconic Tower officially began in May 2018. The architect for the project is Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners. The overall plan for the new Cairo development project, led by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, includes 20 skyscrapers in the complex surrounding the Iconic Tower.

The Iconic Tower was designed and inspired by the shape of a pharaonic obelisk, with the glass exterior representing the Shuti crown of the Egyptian god Amun. In 2023, the tower reached its maximum height of 394 metres, making it the tallest building in Africa.

At 250 metres high, the Mohammed VI Tower in Rabat is the tallest building in Morocco and the second tallest in Africa. Designed by Spanish architect Rafael de la Hoz and owned by Bank of Africa, the tower combines residential, hotel and office functions. In the architect’s own words, the building is intended to be a new symbol of Morocco and a demonstration of what the country is capable of.

Its height and location in an earthquake zone necessitated complex structural measures, such as a 65-metre-deep foundation with diaphragm walls and the incorporation of a shock absorber to absorb wind loads. The tower is located on the banks of the Bouregreg river, very close to another new building: the Grand Théâtre de Rabat, designed by the Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. You can visit it during our next Moroccan Architecture Trip, in Casablanca and Rabat.

The 114-storey, 540-metre-high Al Noor Tower, or Tower of Light, is to be built in Casablanca. The tower will be more than twice as high as the current tallest building in all of Africa, a title currently held by the Iconic Tower in Cairo.

It will be the tallest tower in Africa, according to project director Amede Santalo, who revealed that the skyscraper is expected to be more than half a kilometre high and that construction is due to start in June.

The Al Noor Tower, or Tower of Light in Arabic, bears a striking resemblance to Barad-dur, Sauron’s dark fortress depicted in The Lord of the Rings. The façade will be covered with motifs representing the 1,000 African languages, while its 114 storeys will coincide with the number of suras (chapters) in the Koran.