The trend of cities within cities is global, but in Lagos these mini cities are taking form largely on coasts and artificial islands. And their purpose goes beyond luring investors and boosting housing.
Like in many other developed and emerging economies around the world, a new trend is evolving in Lagos: that of modern, cosmopolitan cities within cities. In Lagos, however, this trend has a distinguishing feature: water. These communities are iconic islands and coastal cities within the Lagos metropolis itself. But as much as these artificial islands and coastal cities might seem just a way to boost housing and woo investors with striking skylines and luxurious residential properties, there is a more practical benefit. They protect the city from incessant ocean surge and land erosion.
Eko Atlantic, a grandiose project under development and an intended antidote to the recent recession, is arguably the main project among such land reclamation cases. The project came about directly from the need to protect Lagos from rising waters after the city experienced extreme storms between 2005 and 2007. It is being built by dredging and then filling 10sqkm worth of land. When completed, it is expected to host 250,000 residents and another 150,000 commuters every day, corresponding to a mid-sized European city. It will also be the headquarters of an energy city and a trade center. The barrier created around the city will also protect Victoria Island, Lagos’s main business and financial center, from the Atlantic Ocean. Another example of a Lagos man-made island, one that is already home to a high number of the continent’s wealthiest individuals, is Banana Island just off the foreshore of Ikoyi. Other plans to create water cities in the Lagos metropolis are under development, and they include Diamond Island, Imperial City, Gracefield Island, and Orange Island. Diamond Island is a new mixed-use development in Ilubirin Foreshore Estate, also in Ikoyi. The island is being built by reclaiming over 200ha of land, with Phase II of the reclamation due to commence soon. Residents on Diamond Island will enjoy a central power system providing 24/7 electricity supply—a luxury that currently only Banana Island and the President’s residence enjoy—a central water system, and a central sewage system. Additional amenities include a shopping mall, innovative security systems, and well-paved roads, boulevards, and sidewalks. In late 2017, work commenced on the USD300-million development of the Imperial International Business City (IIBC), a joint venture between the Elegushi Royal Family and a private developer, Channeldrill Resources Limited. Because of its smart technology and unique features, IIBC is considered the first eco-friendly smart business city in Africa. Also, Channeldrill Resources’ CEO Femi Akioye is confident that dredging of 2.5m above sea level would guarantee the city to be flood-free for the next 75 years. The project is expected to be completed in 2021. Gracefield Island, also known as The Phoenix, is a joint venture between Gravitas Investments Limited and Lagos state government, though it is 100% privately funded. It involves reclamation of 100ha of land and development of a new metropolis, again offering prime live-work-play developments and amenities and the perks enjoyed by the Nigerian elite. Finally, another fruit-named island is emerging as a new water city. Orange Island involves the reclamation of 150ha of land 1km off the mainland of Lekki. Phase I will accommodate 25,000 residents once delivered. When dredging started in 2014, project completion was estimated for five years on, in 2019. The project is another PPP between the Lagos state government and the developer, Orange Island Development Company. Needless to say, Orange Island will offer all the various perks of its competitor live-work-play communities, including a marina, yacht club, and commercial park. Lagos’s skyline is rapidly changing, and the city is gaining a bigger space on the global map of megacities full of iconic structures and smart technology. Moreover, these new water cities indicate stronger cooperation between governments and the private sector through PPPs that tackle environmental challenges, as well as to meet the growing housing demands of a booming population.