Eko Atlantic City: the emergence of Africa’s new financial haven
Peter Adeyeye, Lagos Community Manager
Lagos, 11 January 2016
In terms of raising a 21st century model city with a blend of first-class architectural design, adept urban planning, self-sustaining power generation, and a keen consideration for environmental sustainability, the Eko Atlantic City (EAC) stands as one of the leading urban development projects in Africa. Situated on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5 kilometre long sea wall, the EAC typifies a modern city with state-of-the-art urban design, self-sustaining power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads, and 110,000 trees.
The idea of reclaiming some portion of the Atlantic Ocean to build a model city came as an intervention effort by the state government in 2003 to permanently solve the coastal flooding problem in Lagos Bar Beach along Victoria Island. A feasibility study was undertaken between 2003 and 2005 among international experts who suggested plans for a massive sea revetment enclosing a new city as a permanent solution to flooding in the area. The project was awarded to South Energyx Nigeria Limited – a subsidiary of the Nigeria-based Chagoury Group of companies – working in strategic partnership with the Lagos State Government and supported by the Nigerian federal government.
EAC also known as Eko Atlantic Economic City (EAEC) has been tipped to become the financial headquarters of Nigeria and perhaps of West Africa. The project is designed to cover ten districts: Harbour Lights, Business District, Marina District, Downtown, Eko Island, Avenues, Four Bridges, Eko Drive, East Side Marina and Ocean Front which will combine financial, commercial, residential, and tourist development hubs. The business district with towering skyscrapers will cover 700,000 square metres and will be a point of attraction to multinationals and private investors. At the heart of the district will be the Eko Atlantic Financial Centre. Other features of the city includes a massive shopping mall (that will be the largest in West Africa), an international school, world-class hospital, and other 21st century amenities that makes the city suitable to live, work, and play. EAC is planned to attract 250,000 inhabitants with 150,000 more commuting in each day. In order to avert future ocean surges, the plan include the construction of an 8.5km-length sea revetment known as the ‘Great Wall of Lagos’ which will also prevent coastal flooding in the environment around EAC.
The actualization of this project is significant for the city’s long term development plan. Besides placing Lagos as a leading financial hub on a global scale, it also promises to empower its residents through the numerous economic opportunities it will open. It is already estimated that the EAC will generate 150,000 new jobs that will include skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled employment. This will ostensibly empower the citizenry while reducing urban poverty.
There has been significant progress in construction, and work been done on the site already. Office space will be available for leasing later this year. However there are concerns about the impact of land reclamation and dredging activities on communities in the surrounding area. It is also thought that this development work will lead to the death of some aquatic wildlife. It is advisable that the main stakeholders involved in this project provide alternative housing schemes for people that are displaced by the construction activities. They should also be given priority consideration for various employment opportunities from the city.
Photo credit: Jollof Malt