The rapid urbanisation across Africa is worsening the pressure on employment, transport and housing among other amenities in many cities.
To mitigate these crises, cities are increasingly embracing the concept of work- and-live gated communities that create jobs by setting up industrial villages while housing employees in the same locality.
One such mega development is Alaro, in the outskirts of Lagos. Citizen TV’s Patrick Igunza was in Nigeria to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for a project that is a replica of Tatu City in Kiambu County.
Through his Kenyan-based company Insta Products, Dhiren Chandaria manufactures ready-to-use high protein foods for malnourished children under emergency feeding programmes by various humanitarian organisations.
He is now in Lagos to set up a state of the art facility for a similar purpose.
Chandaria is investing Ksh.1.8billion in this factory and according to him, this is going be the only one of its kind in the world.
He hopes to expand Insta-Products’ geographical footprints, but most importantly, targets to impact more lives.
INVESTORS FLOCKING TO LAGOS
“I think I am already the lowest cost producer in the world so this way I get to more and more kids. No business will ever satisfy me like this,” he says.
When asked how many countries he is supplying currently with the factory in Kenya, Chandaria says about 18 which sees the company put over 800,000 children on Insta-Products therapeutic foods.
“I’ve run businesses in many places in the world, nothing comes close to this, its in the law, you have your permits in seven days, lifetime corporate tax, free , lifetime dividend tax free, all these are amazing incentives and the honours is now on me to bring the bottom of the pyramid up,” he adds.
Chandaria is one among many global investors flocking to Lagos in search of new business opportunities. They are all scrambling for a piece of Alaro City, a new modern city in the wider Lekki Free-Zone area.
The city is a brainchild of Rendeavour Africa.
Through a public private partnership, Alaro City is designed to create modern spaces for industrial, logistics, housing and leisure locations, complemented by commercial complexes, homes, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, entertainment and 150 hectares of parks and open areas.
KENYA’S TATU CITY
“The success of this project and the resulting prosperity of this neighbourhood will demonstrate to the people of this city, opportunity for them to live a better life,” Frank Mosier, Chairman of Rendeavour Africa says.
Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State adds: “The project will not only open up this corridor, but will also transform its economic landscape, by providing jobs, reducing poverty and contributing significantly to the social economic development of our state.”
Alaro is no doubt a city in the making, being modelled around the work, live play concept and according to the developer it will be occupying 2000 hectares of land.
So big is the new city that Victoria Island which stretches for about 800 hectares can go into Alaro city two and a half times.
Alaro City borrows its concept from a similar project in Kenya: Tatu City.
This is because Kenya and Nigeria have several things in common, chief among them, unplanned developments, rapid urbanisation, never ending traffic gridlocks and acute housing shortages.
JOBS CLOSER TO PEOPLE
According to Alurogba Orimalade, Chairman of Niesv, they aren’t just creating a city full of houses, it will be close to airport and sea port services as well as the Dangote refinery.
“That’s a whole new ball game. There are people who’ll be there for years without ever wanting to come to this part of Lagos,” he added.
Gbenga Ladejobi, COO of Rendeavour Nigeria added that the project is putting jobs close to where the houses are to avoid people from commuting too far.
Concepts such as Alaro and Tatu City are seen as potential solutions to emerging Africa’s challenges triggered by rapid urbanization.
Alaro becomes the latest city under Rendeavour.
The company is constructing six other modern cities across 5 countries in sub- saharan Africa. Each development attracts at least USD250million (Ksh.25billion) from Rendeavour.
PROGRESS AT TATU CITY
But as Alaro City starts to take shape, Citizen TV sought to establish the progress at Tatu City close to a decade since its launch.
Things are looking up despite the many legal and political battles that Tatu has had to confront.
So far, 20 kilometres of the total 120 kilometres of roads have been tarmacked, Electricity is on large supply and so is water.
Housing developments designed to suit different income levels are equally under construction with Kijani Ridge as one of the highlight residential developments.
Tatu’s industrial park is 87 percent sold with 34 companies already on board, these include Dormans Coffee, which has relocated its operation to Tatu City.
Then there is Hunkey, Selenite, Africa Logistics properties and freight forwarders among others.
Several schools are also in operation here including Nova Pioneer and Crawford International schools.
While the latter which opened in January is focused on grooming future leaders through an international education system, the former is a privately run institution that teaches local curriculum.
Nova Pioneer, which also operates in South Africa, sits on 20 acres of land adjacent to Kijani Ridge, the first residential development at Tatu City.
“To have Nova Pioneer open their flagship campus at Tatu City is testament to the hard work from all involved,” Nick Langford, country head for Rendeavour said.
Having such institutions established in Tatu cements the city’s developer’s aspiration to see the project come to fruition.
When asked about the legal hiccups, Stephen Jennings, CEO Rendeavour said: “We would be a bit further, but if you are to build something big, if you are going to create a lot of value, inevitably you’ll always attract some unwarranted attention.”
The desired implementation of Tatu City has been hampered by the several litigations that have been witnessed here over the years.
But with many of those cases have already been dispensed with the developer Rendeavour holds that this is a project that was pre-conditioned for take off and nothing can easily stand in its way.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
“You have to go through this phase from saying you are going to build a city, towards obviously you are building a city.
“And in that earlier stage you are vulnerable because you have valuable land but its not clear what you are contributing to the community and at some stage you cross that threshold and its clear to everyone you are creating tens of thousands of jobs, you creating billions of shillings in investments, you are educating thousands of school children in the new schools.
“You are putting in hundreds of millions of infrastructure and when people go so site and see that with their eyes it is a revelation to them,” Mr. Jennings added.
The new city will host 150,000 residents and much more daily visitors. With the mix use approach, the project by all means augurs well with the government’s Big Four Agenda around manufacturing, universal healthcare, housing and food security.
With the much needed support from both national and county governments’ agencies the project realisation could fast, more reassuring and even arguably cheaper to investors.
All in all with Tatu, just like Alaro City, comes a new way of living and working, commuting and everything in between.