Construction of “New York of Africa” has begun

Construction has started on a new Chinese-financed city in Modderfontein, Gauteng, Hong Kong-listed property development group Shanghai Zendai has previously outlined ambitious plans for the development of a ZAR 84bn 22 km2 “city” on the sprawling Modderfontein property the company bought from South African chemicals group AECI for ZAR 1bn in November 2013.

Work on the first set of 300 residential units and some of the roads is reportedly already under way. Zendai South Africa chief operating officer Du Wendui said the development is 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.

Zendai’s chairperson 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.

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