Governments and technology firms all over the world are aggressively pursuing initiatives and projects that will transform their respective cities in an attempt to make them ‘smarter’. However, a Chinese investment firm is set to change the ‘smart city’ landscape once again with its announcement that it plans to develop a new ‘smart city’ in Africa.
Shanghai Zendai aims to create a commercial hub in South Africa that would rival the world’s biggest cities such as London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong. It has been disclosed that the investment firm has acquired 1,600 hectares of a land in an area which is located in close proximity to that of the business district of Sandton in Johannesburg, which is also close to the city’s international airport.
The new ‘smart city’ will be a commercial district that will be home to 30,000 to 50,000 housing units that can be utilized for a series of different enterprise purposes. It has been suggested that the Shanghai-based investment firm plans to have shopping facilities, educational, sporting and educational facilities as well as a theme park incorporated in the new ‘smart city’ in South Africa.
Analysts have claimed that the creation of this new commercial hub will assist other Chinese firms in investing in South Africa. Shanghai Zendai is confident it can take advantage of smart technologies and be a frontrunner in terms of developing and constructing ‘smart cities’. The purpose of smart cities is to incorporate technology to functions like administering and improving city services.
CEO of Shanghai Zendai in the African region said they aimed to take advantage of revolutionary technology that can rescue congestion, pollution and energy consumption. In addition to this, the CEO claimed his company’s primary objective was to create a smart city that is using more than world-class information and information technology.
Hong Kong-based conglomerate PCCW Global will provide the technology required for the project. The timeline estimated for the project is 15-20 years, and it has been reported that the firm plans to invest around $7.2 billion into the program in an attempt to accelerate the commencement of the construction project.
When Shanghai Zendai purchased the land area in 2013 from AECI for R1.06 billion, it represented the single largest direct investment in South Africa. The AECI has expressed its hope that the investment by the Chinese firm will lead to multiple job creation - and economic prosperity.
China has been a big infrastructure developer in Africa—South Africa especially. The smart city project is a big statement from Chinese businesses that they are committed to developing the region further and will help them test technologies they can continue using in the domestic property market.