Why is China constructing ghost cities in Africa?

By IndepthAfrica
In Angola
Jul 4th, 2012
0 Comments
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It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 – but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa’s first ‘ghost town’.

Constructed on the outskirts of Angola’s capital city Luanda, Nova Cidade de Kilamba has 750 eight-storey blocks of flats, a dozen schools and more than 100 shop units.

But, crucially, it has no residents, and many of the nearby slum-dwellers cannot afford the £75,000 price-tag to move in.

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Empty: It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 - but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa's first 'ghost town'Empty: It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 – but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa’s first ‘ghost town’

 

Empty: It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 - but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa's first 'ghost town'
Empty: It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 - but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa's first 'ghost town'

Huge: Kilamba is the largest of several ‘satellite cities’ being built by Chinese firms in Angola, and believed to be one of the biggest new-build projects in Africa

Slum: The new development is a world away from the slums of LuandaSlum: The new development is a world away from the slums of Luanda

This has sparked fears the £2.2billion project could lay abandoned for years to come.

Sebastiao Antonio, 17, who travels on a bus from an outlying area for three hours a day to get to one of the opened schools, told the BBC: ‘I really like this place.

‘It’s got car parking, places for us to have games like football, basketball and handball. It’s very quiet, much calmer than the other city, there’s no criminality.’

But when asked if his family would move there, he said: ‘No way, we can’t afford this. It’s impossible. And there is no work for my parents here.’

Handful: Chinese workers were the only people seen on the streets of the cityHandful: Chinese workers were the only people seen on the streets of the city

 

Heralded: The new flats were supposed to mark a new era for Angola, but many have failed to sellHeralded: The new flats were supposed to mark a new era for Angola, but many have failed to sell

Kilamba street sweeper Jack Franciso, 32, added: ‘Yes, it’s a nice place for sure but to live here you need a lot of money. People like us don’t have money like that.’

He has a point. How can someone who earns an average £1.30 per day afford luxury flats that range from £75,000 to £130,000.

It seems it’s a question state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation, which built the 12,355 acres development in three years in exchange for oil, has not asked.

And it now means the city is at risk of turning into the European ghost towns seen across Ireland and Spain.

Built during the property boom, they were built for people who never move in – leaving those who did with a worthless property they cannot sell.

Hopeful: But the sellers remain optimistic that sales will pick upHopeful: But the sellers remain optimistic that sales will pick up

 

Alone: A single jogger runs past empty apartment blocks in Sesena, where 30,000 people were due to liveLoneliness of the long-distance ruuner: A jogger in the shadows runs past empty apartment blocks in Sesena, a 45-minute drive south of Madrid, Spain, where 30,000 people were due to live but is still almost empty

Kilamba is the largest of several ‘satellite cities’ being built by Chinese firms in Angola, and believed to be one of the biggest new-build projects in Africa.

Real estate adverts show its citizens enjoying a stylish lifestyle away from the dust of the capital’s slums.

But the promotional material is misleading, as almost 12 months since the first batch of 2,800 flats went on sale, only 220 have been sold.

Hardly anyone has moved in, there are few shops and the only place to buy food is a supermarket at one entrance.

A handful of Chinese labourers, who live in containers next to the site, seem to be the only people walking the deserted streets.

Phantom: Landscaped areas, which were due to be constructed on, lie vacant on the outskirts of ghost town Sesena as the Spanish housing crisis continues to take its holdBarren plains: Landscaped areas, which were due to be built on, lie vacant on the outskirts of ghost town Sesena as the Spanish housing crisis continues to take its hold

 

Enlarge   Ghost estate: Auctioneers say the properties are now more likely to fetch 200,000 euros than the stated asking price of 800,000 euros Chaos: Ireland also has its fair share of ghost estates, this one featuring beautiful thatched cottages

But despite the perception that flat prices were too high, real estate agency Delta Imobiliaria, in charge of selling the flats, said the real problem was in accessing bank credit.

Paulo Cascao, general manager, told the BBC: ‘The prices are correct for the quality of the apartments and for all the conditions that the city can offer.

‘The sales are going slowly due to the difficulty in obtaining mortgages.’ He also revealed a section of the flats would be designated social housing, for people on low incomes to pay rent at low prices.

This is seen as a response to critics who say the government needs to focus on building low-cost housing for the ‘majority of the population’ who live in shacks with no water, electricity or sanitation.Daily Mail

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