Town planning experts have expressed different opinions on emerging ‘New Cities’ in Africa. This is coming as critics warn that many of these new developments will only serve a tiny elite, exacerbating an already deep divide between the haves and have-nots.
“They are essentially designed for people with money,” said a Professor of City Planning at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Vanessa Watson. She described many of the plans as unsustainable “urban fantasies” that ignore the reality of African cities, where most people are still poor and live informally.
“What many of these new cities are doing will result in the exclusion and the forced removal of those kind of informal areas, which quite often are on well-located land,” says Watson. In some cases, entire settlements have been relocated and large plots of land have been cleared to make way for the proposed projects.
Critics also bemoan a lack of adequate research to gauge the impact of some new developments on the local environment and economies.
But others see these new developments as having the potential to reshape Africa’s urban future. “Our objective is to provide the basic infrastructure, planning and necessary management framework in creating satellite cities that reverses the current trend of unplanned development and urban congestion in most of Africa’s growing cities,” says Tim Beighton, of Rendeavour, which is developing several new cities in Africa.
Eko Atlantic, for example, is a multi-billion dollar residential and business development that will be located on Victoria Island in Lagos, along its upmarket Bar Beach coastline.
The ambitious project is being built on 10 square kilometres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. Eko Atlantic is expected to provide upscale accommodation for 250,000 people and employment opportunities for a further 150,000.
Hope City is a $10 billion high-tech hub that will be built outside Accra, aiming to turn Ghana into a major ICT player. The planned hub, which is hoped will house 25,000 residents and create jobs for 50,000 people, will be made up of six towers of different dimensions, including a 75-story, 270 meter-high building that is expected to be the highest in Africa