Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Chinese Ghost Cities Rising In Darkest Africa

When you discover a Chinese-built ghost city in the middle of Angola, you may suspect that something very odd is going on.
Perched in an isolated spot some 30km (18 miles) outside Angola's capital, Luanda, Nova Cidade de Kilamba is a brand-new mixed residential development of 750 eight-storey apartment buildings, a dozen schools and more than 100 retail units.

Designed to house up to half a million people when complete, Kilamba has been built by the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) in under three years at a reported cost of $3.5bn (£2.2bn).

Spanning 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres), the development is the largest of several new "satellite cities" being constructed by Chinese firms around Angola, and it is believed to be one of the largest new-build projects on the continent.

The jewel in Angola's post-war reconstruction crown, Kilamba is the star of glossy government promotional videos which show smiling families enjoying a new style of living away from the dust and confusion of central Luanda where millions live in sprawling slums.

But the people in these films are only actors, and despite all the hype, nearly a year since the first batch of 2,800 apartments went on sale, only 220 have been sold.

The place is eerily quiet, voices bouncing off all the fresh concrete and wide-open tarred roads.

There are hardly any cars and even fewer people, just dozens of repetitive rows of multi-coloured apartment buildings, their shutters sealed and their balconies empty.

Only a handful of the commercial units are occupied, mostly by utility companies, but there are no actual shops on site, and so - with the exception of a new hypermarket located at one entrance - there is nowhere to buy food.

After driving around for nearly 15 minutes and seeing no-one apart from Chinese labourers, many of whom appear to live in containers next to the site, I came across a tiny pocket of life at a school.

The people looking after the lawns cannot afford to stay here. It opened six months ago, bussing in its pupils in from outlying areas because there are no children living on site to attend. _BBC
'Ghost town' in Angola
Sure enough, the Chinese ghost city built in Africa is the result of a crafty trade. A Chinese company built the deserted city in exchange for Angolan oil, owned by the Angolan government. But since people living on $2 a day cannot afford $200,000 apartments, the Angolan government gets stuck with a city of high rise apartments which may begin to crumble within the next 10 or 15 years -- if the state of Chinese construction in China is any guide.

Watch and see how many other oil and mineral rich African governments fall for this scam...

No comments: