Emerging ‘megalopolis’ in Africa to house 500m people, host mega millions

By the turn of 2100, an emerging megalopolis in Africa, which will be the world’s first, will be housing half a billion people and playing host to mega millions. This will be a 1,000km-long city spanning five countries, starting from Abidjan in Ivory Coast and ending in Lagos, Nigeria.

This novel human settlement is a group of metropolitan areas or megaregion perceived as a continuous urban area through common systems of transport, economy, resources, ecology and so on

It is also a term used to refer to a very large city; a thickly populated region centering in a metropolis or embracing several metropolises; It is a region of super cities connected by urban sprawl.

Katie Davis of The Sun Newspaper, New York, says that with a horizon full of skyscrapers and a motorway set to span the length of five countries, Africa is fast becoming home to the world’s first megalopolis.

Africa, according to her, is in the midst of a demographic revolution as its population continues to surge, adding that more and more high-rise towers, offices, shopping complexes and hotels are popping up along the five countries’ coastlines, making the boundaries, increasingly, blurred.

From Abidjan in Ivory Coast to Lagos in Nigeria the megalopolis stretches through the countries of Ghana, Togo and Benin. Davis says “the world is now watching on as the first-ever megalopolis evolves, and as its infrastructure keeps expanding, so will its population.”

By 2100, the UN predicts its population will almost quadruple to a staggering four billion, representing 40 per cent of the world’s total. Even in the near future, the population of the mega region is set to surge to 51 million by 2035.

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African Development Bank chiefs have already raised and earmarked a whopping £12.6 billion to create a new motorway along the Gulf of Guinea from Abidjan to Lagos. The road will be up to six lanes wide and will be toll-gate free as drivers will have chips placed in their license plate, according to Lydie Ehouman, a transportation economist at the bank.

The evolving megalopolis will see minor cities transformed into major ones as intrigued citizens migrate to the coastal region. Experts say that it could be at the forefront of an economic boom for the continent.

Davis says that one city along the route set to undergo a facelift is Accra, the capital of Ghana, adding that authorities in the country have unveiled a shining project worth almost £1 billion to bolster its tourism levels.

The super-region will see facilities such as flash hotels, offices and shopping plazas take shape along 248 acres around the waterfront. Architects from Adjaye Associates hope to morph the city into a “world-class tourism enclave.”

Other designers involved in the remolding are said to be eyeing up methods that have been used for hundreds of years for their builds. Materials such as concrete and steel are set to be shunned for ones naturally available, such as clay and stone.

Global affairs writer Howard French believes the zone is on course to become “the largest zone of continuous, dense habitation on earth,” saying, “this stretch has come to be seen by many experts as the world’s most rapidly urbanising region, a ‘megalopolis’ in the making.”

“Abidjan, with 8.3 million people, will be almost as large as New York City is today and the story of the region’s small cities is equally dramatic.

“They are either becoming major urban centres in their own right, or – as with places like Oyo in Nigeria, Takoradi in Ghana, and Bingerville in Ivory Coast – they are gradually being absorbed by bigger cities. Meanwhile, newborn cities are popping into existence in settings that were all but barren a generation ago,” Davis said.

She said, however, that behind the glitz and glamour, experts fear the general population could get left behind as projects will pander to the wants of the wealthy; communication may stall between countries, meaning new rail lines and roads needed may not make it off blueprints.

Alain Bertaud, a senior fellow at the Marron Institute at New York University, told Mr French that the best thing that could happen to west Africa would be if someone could convince these countries to seriously consider the experience of Asia.

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