CONSTRUCTION SOUTH AFRICA

Construction begins on South Africa’s new $7.4bn smart city

Construction has begun on the new $7.4 billion (R84 billion ZAR) new city in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, owned by Hong Kong listed Shanghai Zendai, with development of 300 residential units underway.

Plans to build a new city were unveiled last year in April by founder Zikhang Dai and some of the roads were reportedly already underway.

Shanghai Zendai acquired 1600 hectares of land in Modderfontein in 2013 from explosives and chemicals company AECI which sold it for R1.06 billion.

Chinese companies have been building roads and infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa for years. The project will be among the largest real estate deals by a Chinese firm in South Africa.

Zendai South Africa chief operating officer Du Wendui said the development was a 10 to 15 year project, and there would be scepticism about its success, based on artists’ impression of it as the new Manhattan of Africa.

“The project will be market driven, and depending on what our clients or developers want, the sky is the limit. Twenty years ago, nobody would have imagined that Sandton would look like it does today with its multiple skyscrapers,” he was quoted as saying.

Plans for the city include a central business district, churches, a library, hospital and medical facilities, a sports and international conference centre, schools, and low-cost housing, among others.

Dai Zhikang said in 2013 that the project would transform the property into a “New York of Africa”.

“It will become the future capital for the whole of Africa,” he said.

The new city is also being built with technology in mind, with PCCW Global, the Hong Kong-based operating division of telecom company, HKT, set to provide technology and telecommunications services for the project.

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