Angola’s Chinese Built Ghost Town

China seems to have taken a symptom of their real-estate bubble with them in their continued investment in Africa. Over the last three years, state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (中国中信集团公司) has built Nova Cidade de Kilamba (Kilamba New City), a $3.5 billion housing development 18 miles outside of Angola’s capital of Luanda. Today, Xinhua reported optimistically on the city’s construction:

A giant new Chinese-built satellite city has sprung up on an isolated spot some 30km outside Angola’s capital, Kuanda [sic].

In a promotional video made by Angolan government, this city has been titled as the “jewelin Angola’s post-war reconstruction crown.” People will enjoy a new life style, different from the dust and confusion of central Luanda where millions live in sprawling slums.

[…]He Wenping, director of African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told a journalist with Global Times, “China has constructed many economic housings and infrastructure projects for African countries, including roads and bridges, which are beneficial to all African people, and serve as a base for African economic growth.”

Built by the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) in three year at a cost of US$3.5billion, this Angola residential project has completed 750 eight-storey apartment buildings, a dozen schools and more than 100 retail units.

The Xinhua article was released to refute BBC’s recent coverage of Kilamba, showing the new development to be similar to Chinese “ghost cities” like Ordos – a massive and luxurious development that is too far-removed and far too expensive for locals to move into. The BBC reports:

The place is eerily quiet, voices bouncing off all the fresh concrete and wide-open tarred roads.

There are hardly any cars and even fewer people, just dozens of repetitive rows of multi-coloured apartment buildings, their shutters sealed and their balconies empty.

Only a handful of the commercial units are occupied, mostly by utility companies, but there are no actual shops on site, and so – with the exception of a new hypermarket located at one entrance – there is nowhere to buy food.

[…]Apartments at Kilamba are being advertised online costing between $120,000 and $200,000 – well out of reach of the estimated two-thirds of Angolans who live on less than $2 a day.

The BBC piece, which provides more of the political and economic context surrounding the “ghost city”, came a day after their release of video footage from the vacant streets of Kilamba. The following YouTube video contrasts the Angolan government’s promotional video of the city-to-be with the BBC’s documentation of the empty buildings and plazas:

Also see Business Insider’s gallery of photos from Kilamba, or an architectural concept animation of a development in Angola from YouKu.

For more on investment in Africa, China’s relationship with Angola, and the Chinese housing bubble, see prior CDT coverage of the topics.


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