AFRICANGLOBE – The overhaul of Victoria Island and the Lekki Peninsula mark another milestone for Lagos’s urban renewal.
Members of Lagos’s elite rubbed shoulders with Lebanese investors to inaugurate 500 of the planned 900ha of reclaimed land for Eko Atlantic City on 21 February.
Traditional chiefs waved their opa oba (staff of office) at any mention of Bola Tinubu, the governor of Lagos in 2003 who called his friends Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury to solve the recurrent problem of flooding.
The southernmost point of Lagos’s Victoria Island was in danger of being breached.
The solution is Africa’s largest land reclamation project, taking up the original contours of Victoria Island before 100 years of erosion pared it back to Bar Beach.
When finished it will be 7km long and 1.5km deep, with a state-of-the-art sea wall.
The principal aim of Eko Atlantic City is to make money. South Energyx, the holding company owned by the Chagourys, is fielding applications for plots.
“The idea is to make this the Wall Street of Nigeria”, says David Frame, the managing director of South Energyx.
“The banks want to be next to one another to ease communication.” High-end residential and commercial zones are etched out onto a city plan.
That is not the only major development. Follow Ozumba Mbadiwe Road past the Lagos Oriental Hotel and you will hit the Lekki toll gate that opens onto the Lekki-Epe Expressway.
The past two years have seen frenetic building in the Lekki Phase One area that lies immediately east of the toll gates.
Beyond Phase One, estates are mushrooming off every side road of the expressway.
“These will mostly be for the rich”, says Charles Inyang of Monument Group, a property company. He explains that a two-bedroom unit in Lekki Phase One costs N25m ($160,000) on average.
“But if we could sort out the mortgage market here, there are huge possibilities.”
Monument is developing houses beyond the second toll gate that should sell at N10-N15m.
“Rents on Lagos mainland for a family house are N300,000-N500,000. If the payments were stretched out 20-25 years, that would allow millions of families access to Lekki and elsewhere.”
Speaking at the Eko Atlantic City launch, President Goodluck Jonathan spelled out a new partnership with the World Bank to create a US-style Fannie Mae mortgage provider.
If this is successful, expect boom times for builders ahead.
By: Nicholas Norbrook