Cape Town: City Performance, Brand Strength and Reputation

Cape Town in South Africa: often referred to as the Mother City, Cape Town boasts a breath of fresh air, thanks to its abundant vistas and natural sites of scenic beauty, spread around the popular destination. But how attractive is Cape Town as a city for international talent, visitors or investors? How does it compare to other cities in Africa and beyond?

Let’s take a closer look at: 

  • Cape Town’s reputation and city brand strength
  • Its approach to innovation and sustainability
  • Livability: Cape Town’s appeal for digital nomads and locals
  • How sought-after is Cape Town as a place of study?

With thanks to our friends and knowledge partners Bloom Consulting, 2thinknow and Resonance Consulting for supporting our city profiles by contributing latest research insights and benchmarking data.

Cape Town’s reputation and city brand strength

Starting with the IPSOS Top Cities Report, Cape Town ranks 39th overall, just behind Seoul (due to a lower percentage in the character work, otherwise the two are equal). Cape Town’s strongest reputational pillar is as a destination for visitors, closely followed by its appeal as place to live.

Cape Town ranks 134th in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, performing most strongly in grow (83rd) and weakest in retain (152nd). Here there clearly is room for improvement.

Kearney’s Global Cities Index ranks Cape Town 73rd, while the most recent Global Financial Centres Index ranks it 80th, altogether not part of the global elite of cities.

Innovation and sustainability

The Sustainable Cities Index (2018) ranks Cape Town at a meager 97th position overall, performing overall unsatisfactory across the sub-indexes people (98th), planet (95th) and profit (88th).

Cape Town ranks 289th out of 500 cities in the Innovation Cities Index by Australia-based research firm 2thinknow, behind Riga, the Latvian capital (287th) and Charlottesville in the US (288th) 162 city indicators are taken into consideration for this specific study.

Livability: is Cape Town a good place to live?

Cape Town rates 78th according to the World Happiness Report (2020) in terms of Future Life Evaluation (reporting on expected future rather than current life evaluation). The city ranks 65th in terms of Positive Affect and 89th in terms of Negative Affect – though only 130th in Current Life Evaluation. The study is based on how a city’s inhabitants currently evaluate their lives, on average.

The Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking reports Cape Town 95th, just ahead of Johannesburg (96th) and Panama City (97th).

Cape Town ranks well overall according to the Nomad List, with improvable performances in safety and happiness, though top performances in LGBTQ+ friendly and walkability.

How popular online, and as destination to study?

The D2 Digital City Index by Bloom Consulting (Africa 2018) ranks Cape Town  1st in terms of volume of searches, followed by Johannesburg and Cairo. Bearing in mind searches for talent, Cape Town receives the greatest volume in study (62%), well above searches related to work (11%) and live (27%).

That said, the University of Cape Town jointly ranks 220th in the QS World University Rankings 2021, which features 1,029 of the most prestigious universities in the world based on metrics such as a university’s reputation among academics and employers.

Last updated in June 2020.

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