A Wave of 'New Cities' Are Poised to Transform Africa - For the Worse?

Jane Lumumba issues a warning about the self-contained cities being comprehensively planned and built from scratch across the continent. Will they benefit international investors and government leaders to the detriment of local residents?

May 3, 2013, 11:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Lumumba, a Nairobi-based urban practitioner, examines the 'New City' projects being planned for the periphery of several older African cities, which are being designed as "relatively self-contained communities" that will "meet their own residential, commercial, industrial and retail needs." 

"Nairobi will soon welcome Konza, already being hailed as Africa’s Silicon Valley, and Tatu City, a $2.8 billion USD project located just off the region’s new Thika Super-Highway. Just outside of Accra, Appolonia, nicknamed the “City of Light,” is a planned, mixed-use city that broke ground last year and is conceptualized as a 'work-live-play' community. Lagos is eyeing the construction of Eko Atlantic, a city for 400,000 built on land reclaimed from the ocean. And Lusaka, Zambia is welcoming Roma Park, a residential and commercial development being built on 118 hectares of greenfield."

"What is worrying is that there is little recognition of place, economy, context and even poverty in these cities," observes Lumumba. "This begs several questions. To whom do these cities belong? Who is planning them? Are they inclusive cities, or simply profit-driven businesses?"

The story of Angola's Nova Cidade de Kilamba, a new city built by a state-owned Chinese investment company that largely sits empty, is a cautionary tale.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013 in Next City

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