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Why has China built a ghost town in Angola?

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It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 500,000 – but eery footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa’s first ‘ghost town’.

Constructed on the outskirts of Angola’s capital city Luanda, Nova Cidade de Kilamba has 750 eight-storey blocks of flats, a dozen schools and more than 100 shop units.

But, crucially, it has no residents, and many of the nearby slum-dwellers cannot afford the £75,000 price-tag to move in.

This has sparked fears the £2.2billion project could lay abandoned for years to come.

Sebastiao Antonio, 17, who travels on a bus from an outlying area for three hours a day to get to one of the opened schools, told the BBC: ‘I really like this place.

‘It’s got car parking, places for us to have games like football, basketball and handball. It’s very quiet, much calmer than the other city, there’s no criminality.’

But when asked if his family would move there, he said: ‘No way, we can’t afford this. It’s impossible. And there is no work for my parents here.’

Kilamba street sweeper Jack Franciso, 32, added: ‘Yes, it’s a nice place for sure but to live here you need a lot of money. People like us don’t have money like that.’

He has a point. How can someone who earns an average £1.30 per day afford luxury flats that range from £75,000 to £130,000.

It seems it’s a question state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation, which built the 12,355 acres development in three years in exchange for oil, has not asked.

And it now means the city is at risk of turning into the European ghost towns seen across Ireland and Spain.

Built during the property boom, they were built for people who never move in – leaving those who did with a worthless property they cannot sell.

Kilamba is the largest of several ‘satellite cities’ being built by Chinese firms in Angola, and believed to be one of the biggest new-build projects in Africa.

Real estate adverts show its citizens enjoying a stylish lifestyle away from the dust of the capital’s slums.

But the promotional material is misleading, as almost 12 months since the first batch of 2,800 flats went on sale, only 220 have been sold.

Hardly anyone has moved in, there are few shops and the only place to buy food is a supermarket at one entrance.

A handful of Chinese labourers, who live in containers next to the site, seem to be the only people walking the deserted streets.

But despite the perception that flat prices were too high, real estate agency Delta Imobiliaria, in charge of selling the flats, said the real problem was in accessing bank credit.

Paulo Cascao, general manager, told the BBC: ‘The prices are correct for the quality of the apartments and for all the conditions that the city can offer.

‘The sales are going slowly due to the difficulty in obtaining mortgages.’ He also revealed a section of the flats would be designated social housing, for people on low incomes to pay rent at low prices.

This is seen as a response to critics who say the government needs to focus on building low-cost housing for the ‘majority of the population’ who live in shacks with no water, electricity or sanitation.


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