africa's tallest building
Bank of Africa Rendereing Image: Cabinet Hakim Benjelloun / Rafael de la Hoz

Two projects in North Africa – one in Kenya and one in Morocco – are in a race to claim the title of Africa’s tallest building, usurping the accolade from Johannesburg’s 45-year-old Carlton Centre. 

Construction is due to start on the Bank of Africa Tower in Morocco at the start of November and news outlets are touting this skyscraper as the soon-to-be “tallest building in Africa”. The only problem is that the Pinnacle Tower in Nairobi, which is currently under construction, has made the same claim. To add a further complications, late architect Zaha Hadid’s Nile Tower seems to be back on the cards after almost a decade of delays and a proposed project was announced for Kenya’s small town of Watamu in September which, if realised, could swoop in and take the title at a later date.

africa's tallest building
Bank of Africa Rendereing Image: Cabinet Hakim Benjelloun / Rafael de la Hoz

On October 4, Belgium-based construction company BESIX announced that they together with TGCC will begin construction on the Bank of Africa Tower in Morocco’s self-proclaimed Capital of Culture, Rabat. The tower, a mixed-use space designed by Spanish architect firm Rafael de la Hoz and Moroccan Hakim Benjelloun, will top-out at 250 metres and is scheduled for delivery on May 30, 2022. BESIX is the firm behind the World’s Tallest Building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as well as the impressive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

africa's tallest building
Bank of Africa Rendereing Image: Cabinet Hakim Benjelloun / Rafael de la Hoz

According to the The Skyscraper Center (part of the not-for-profit Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) which calls itself “the premier source for accurate, reliable information on tall buildings around the world”, Kenya’s Pinnacle Tower will top-out at 320 metres, a good 70 metres higher that the Bank of Africa Tower. But as the fact-checking website Africa Check notes, the building’s height has also been reported as 274 and 300 metres.

africa's tallest building
The Pinnacle Tower Rendering

The late architect Zaha Hadid’s 300 metre Nile Tower, which she designed with Patrik Shumacher, might actually come to fruition. The tower which was proposed for 2007 was put on the back burner largely due to the political instability caused by the Arab-Spring uprisings. As Forbes reported in September, the Nile Tower is now being used as a symbol that Egypt is back open for business. Diaa Tantawy who works for the developers was quoted by Forbes as saying, “It will change how the whole world sees Egypt. We are now strong, the leader of Africa and the Middle East, you can invest with us.”

africa's tallest building
Zaha Hadid’s Nile Tower Rendering

And then there is the proposed Palm Exotja in Watamu, located approximately 15 kilometers south of Malindi and 105 kilometers north of Mombasa, the town lies between Watamu Bay and the Blue Lagoon on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. This 61-storey mixed-use building by Italian architect Lorenzo Pagnini is 370 metre high, and if it get’s the green light would be taller than the Nile Tower, the Bank of Africa and Pinnacle Tower.

africa's tallest building
Palm Exotja Rendering

So, the only thing left to do is just wait and see. In the meantime Johannesburg’s Carlton Centre, which is 222,5 metres tall, can enjoy its last few years of fame and glory as Africa’s Tallest Building.

Read Zaha Hadid Architects Sound Wave Concert Hall next.