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African nations announce ambitious plans to build ‘smart eco-cities’

An African nation has released details of a hugely ambitious project in which it intends to build a 'smart eco-city' from scratch that will cater for 137,000 residents and 500,000 commuters. The innovative project is being developed in Nigeria - and the new 'smart eco-city' will be located just outside the Nigerian capital of Abuja which is just a short drive from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

However, this incredibly audacious and innovative architectural project is just one in a series of brand new 'smart cities' being developed by privately funded foreign entities that have zero reliance on government infrastructure. 'Smart eco-cities' are being erected by the foreign investors all over Africa - with projects already beginning in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, Ghana and Zambia.

But undoubtedly, the project that has generated most exposure is the large-scale development of 'Centenary City' in Nigeria. Reports have estimated that the cost of the ambitious real estate development of the Centenary City will amass $18.6bn. These ventures offers thousands of Africans the opportunity to live in comfort 'off the grid' - and would subsequently insulate from the chaos that characterizes so many of the continent's major cities.

Abu-Dhabi based Eagle Hills are behind the project at Centenary City - Eagle Hills are in a public-private partnership with the Federal Capital Territory, and the construction of this new 'smart eco-city in Abuja will ensure that it has its own free-trade zone, liberal banking and tax regulations. Construction works have already begun on hotel and residential space at the new development.

The entire city is designed to include efficient transportation, biomimetic water and waste management, and finance, commerce, science, sports, medical and cultural facilities. It will be independent of Abuja, thanks to its own 500MW gas-fired power station. It is scheduled to be operational and occupied by 2024.

However, the project has been plagued by scandal and controversy since its inception - and that resulted in a public hearing by the committee of the Nigerian House of Representatives into alleged corruption. There have been accusations that the corporate lawyers behind the development were given special waivers in relation to federal regulations, and it is now before the courts.

However, the development of these cities has been welcomed in Africa, and the continent recognizes it has to embrace technology, innovation and change. The new cities have been categorized into three types of new cities in Africa. They will range from self-sufficient satellite cities like Centenary City, to tech hubs like Konza Technology Park in Kenya - and finally dormitory cities for ports and trading such as the development of King City in Ghana.