Media frenzy over Angola’s Chinese-built ‘ghost town’

International media has recently been in a frenzy over the ‘ghost town’ built in Angola by the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) just 30km outside the capital city of Luanda.

Nova Cidade de Kilamba (meaning Kilamba New City) is a residential development of 750 eight-storey apartment buildings with a dozen schools, and more than 100 retail units. The US$3.5 billion development, which was built in just three years, covers 5,000 hectares and, according to reports, will be able to house about half a million people when fully completed.

According to the BBC News, nearly a year has passed since the first batch of 2,800 apartments went on sale, and only 220 have been sold. So why is this new city not attracting residents?

Critics say the property prices are way out of the affordability range of the majority of Angolans, where two thirds of the population are estimated to live on less that $2 a day. The Kilamba apartments are being advertised online between $120,000 and $200,000.

Although the apartments may be unaffordable to the majority of Angolans, the developers might find a market among the many expats and foreigners working in Angola. In this year’s Mercer’s Cost of Living survey, Luanda is ranked as the second most expensive place for expatriates to live in the world. Last year Luanda – for the second year running – occupied the top position. A major reason for this is the sky-high rates charged for acceptable and secure accommodation.