SEPTEMBER 24, BY CHUKA UROKO
Eko Atlantic City, an emerging splendour from the ‘ashes’ of the Atlantic Ocean in Victoria Island, Lagos, is increasingly receiving interest and attracting attention from across the world with high profile visitors calling to catch a glimpse of the city that promises to change the Victoria Island skyline for good.
The city, an ambitious development variously described as tomorrow’s Lagos, Africa’s Dubai, etc, will be sitting on ten million square metres of reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean and is anticipated to be the largest economic hub in West Africa.
A joint venture project between South Energyx Limited and Lagos State government, the city will be a new gateway to Africa and is designed to protect the Lagos natural coastline from erosion and also to relieve pressure on the over-stretched resources of the state, generating space and opportunity.
About 250,000 people will find a home in the city, working in its offices, shops, retail development and services. About 150,000 others will be commuting to the city daily. Each of the ten districts planned for the city will have mixed use plots, making it a lively, vibrant place by day and night. All the elements of modern city life will be conveniently located including workspace, shops, services, schools, cultural and recreation areas and places for religious worship.
According to its promoters, the city will be a focus for accelerated economic development in West Africa which today is home to over 300 million people.
Earlier this year, the city played host to Michel Sleiman, the Lebanese President, who was in the city to see what his countrymen are doing since the promoters of this project are from Lebanon.
According to Sleiman, he was happy coming to Africa because the continent is important to him, stressing that he was impressed with what he saw at the Eko Atlantic City.
Similarly, last Tuesday, Nicole Bricq, French Minister of Foreign Trade, visited the city with a large entourage of French nationals and applauded its promoters after a picturesque presentation of the city design and construction milestones already attained.
Bricq, who was on an official visit to Abuja and Lagos from September 15-17, met with some Nigerian ministers including Sarah Ochekpe of Water Resources, Olusegun Aganga of Trade and Investment, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Finance.
She was part of a programme of meetings, business to business, set up by the Franco-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) with the assistance of the French agency in charge of the international development of SMEs and UBIFRANCE.
President Goodluck Jonathan and former US president, Bill Clinton were also visitors to the city not too long ago. The two high-profile visitors, who were at the city for the ‘dedication’ ceremony of the five million square metres of land reclaimed from the sea for the development of the city, were impressed by the wonders of engineering technology on that project.
A visibly excited President Jonathan said, “Cities are good,” disclosing that the Federal Government was also planning to build new cities, including the Centenary City in Abuja. “Government will be building cities around the airports beginning with Lagos and Abuja. So, in the next three years, the country will be expecting three new cities including the Eko Atlantic City,” he enthused.
For Clinton, “The Eko Atlantic project is one that holds a lot of hope for millions of people around the world; I am convinced that five years from now, many around the world will be coming to see this great wall.”
He added that the project was also a strong proof of Nigeria as a 21st century country, pointing out that the city’s protective wall would act as a barrier against ocean surge disasters as witnessed in recent times around the world, which were possible because such places were not prepared.