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It’s Hard Not to Notice the New Planned Cities Cropping Up everywhere you Look in Africa Today

A paper claims the urban growth rate in Africa is the fastest globally. Others even project that Africa will be the only continent experiencing population growth by the end of this century, and 13 of the 20 largest urban areas will be in Africa. All these savoury forecasts are coming while the continent has only two cities on that list. And it’s okay to either believe them or not. But an interesting emerging pattern is that people are beginning to build new cities in Africa. Well, not just cities – ‘smart’ cities. These cities always promise to be some form of paradise, not plagued by the challenges existing ones face. But these projects all seem to have the same Achilles heel – they might not be necessary. In 2010, a project in Lagos, Nigeria, called the Eko Atlantic City, promised to house 250,000 people on land reclaimed from the sea. But twelve years later, the city is still empty. Kenya’s Konza Tecnocity promised to be the biggest smart city in the sub-Saharan region. But thirteen years after conception, it’s the same as Eko Atlantic – empty. There’s HOPE City in Ghana, Wakanda city in Ethiopia (inspired by the Black Panther movie), Kigali Innovation City in Rwanda, and Senegal’s Akon City — all promising to solve the problems of poverty and economic stagnation in their respective countries through innovative tech. None has made any tangible progress.