A SEA CHANGE

Nigeria 2015 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: EKO ATLANTIC

The Lagos State Government, in cooperation with private sector partners, has set out on an ambitious project to reclaim land from the Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a new city.

On the Nigerian shores of the Atlantic Ocean, an urban development project of unseen magnitude in Africa is slowly but steadily picking up the pace. In a fight against nature, the Lagos State Government has partnered with a wide variety of private sector investors, contractors, planners, and engineers to reclaim land that was once part of Nigeria's megacity from the sea. An integral part of the quest to provide Lagos with much-needed residential and office space, a virtually new city will arise on the land that was subdued by the raging sea in the past 100 years.

Equaling the size of Manhattan at 10 sqkm, Eko Atlantic will be a new home to 250,000 people and the workplace for another 150,000. Consisting of nine different districts, it will boast large-scale residential, commercial, financial and tourist developments, such as a 2-km spectacular central boulevard, which will be reminiscent of New York's Fifth Avenue.

Eko Atlantic will have its own privately run state-of-the-art transport, water, sewage, and power systems, and will, therefore, be immune to some of the problems that regularly scourge Lagos, such as power blackouts and impassable traffic. As such, the city will help to offset the current pressure on the infrastructure and housing of adjacent Victoria Island in particular, and Lagos in general.

Not only will the new city go a long way in reducing the office space and housing deficit, and alleviate pressure on Lagos' infrastructure, but it will also serve the purpose of protecting Lagos against the recurrent flooding that has been problematic for the coastal city in the past, and posed an increasing threat to its financial center located on Victoria Island. By erecting the Great Wall of Lagos, an 8-km long, 18-m high sea defense revetment consisting of 100,000 concrete blocks weighing 5 tons each, erosion of the coastline has been halted, and the city has been safeguarded from future flooding.

Eko Atlantic will deploy an eco-friendly infrastructure, and eco-friendly materials and technologies are being utilized during construction of the city. This has received worldwide recognition, as evidenced by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which described Eko Atlantic as: “An environmentally conscious city, built with nature to restore an original coastline and to protect Victoria Island, Lagos, from the severe risk of ocean surge and flooding."

A joint venture project between the Lagos State Government and South Energyx Limited, a subsidiary of the Chagoury Group, the multibillion-dollar investment that is needed to realize the dream of a new metropolis on the Atlantic coast is provided solely by private investors, such as First Bank, Access Bank, GT Bank, First City Monument Bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, and KBC Bank, and a growing number of private investors. Opportunities for investment into prime grade properties in the new business center of Lagos are available for investors who are willing to capitalize on Nigeria's projected annual GDP growth rates of 7%. Demand for property is high, and in the last quarter of 2013, land was selling for $1,250 per sqm in the city.

Reiterating the importance of the project for the future of Lagos, Governor of Lagos State Babatunde Fashola said that, “a new city will emerge from the reclaimed portion of land. And we expect that not less than 1,200 high-rise buildings will spring up there. That is the future that we seek for Lagos State. It will be a place that will be bustling with activities." Opening its first residential buildings in 2016, it is expected that Eko Atlantic will enhance the economic status of Lagos and propel the city toward becoming a stronger financial hub for the whole of West Africa, allowing Nigeria to firmly key into the new investment horizon that is Africa.