There’s a terrific article by Louise Redvers on the BBC site about Kilamba, a sprawling ghost town in Angola that was built by firms from China.
Nova Cidade de Kilamba, to give it its full name, is no small project – it consists of 750 eight-storey apartment buildings, a dozen schools and more than 100 retail units, and is described by Redver as “the jewel in Angola’s post-war reconstruction crown.” There’s just one problem: barely anybody in Angola can afford to move there.
An estimated two-thirds of Angolans live on less than $2 a day, meaning the apartments at Kilamba, which are priced online at between $120,000 and $200,000, will forever be beyond their means. As Elias Isaac, country director at the Angolan Office of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), told Redver:
“There is no middle class in Angola, just the very poor and the very rich, and so there is no-one to buy these sorts of houses. The government needs to start giving priority to building low-cost housing because a great majority of the population live in shacks with no water, electricity or sanitation.”
The Angolan government, however, seems determined to make Kilamba work – even if only 220 of the first batch of 2,800 apartments have sold.
While government promotional videos show smiling families enjoying a lifestyle just 30km away from the dusty slums of Angola’s capital Luanda, Kilamba remains eerily quiet, with just a handful of people inhabiting its 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres). Many of those are Chinese laborers.
It all seems like a criminally wasteful use of money by the government, which built Kilamba through the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) in under three years, at a reported cost of $3.5bn. The town is essentially paid for – Angola is rich in oil, after all – but whether it will ever be full is another question.
Anyway, make sure you read the full article, and check out some more pics below: