It would be interesting to delve into where Eko Atlantic City stands in the grand scheme of things. How does it compare to its neighbours? Beginning with the context of the subject matter; Lagos has four urban and cosmopolitan centres. These are: Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki, in no particular order. These centres feature commercial and residential mixes in various proportions. Lagos Island and Victoria Island are more commercial (Relatively speaking) than Ikoyi and Lekki. However, centres are not simply a function of affluence, supply, demand, value and other property related attributes. More importantly centres are a reflection of urban processes and services.
Accordingly, one should not perceive Eko Atlantic City as merely an economic annex or a competitive new realm or alternative. Fundamentally, Eko Atlantic City does not contain the same attributes (processes and services) as any of its neighbouring centres. When we look at the subject of urban consolidation, density, growth and even investment, it is important to note that the production of these qualities is a reflection on the inbuilt processes of any environment.
The Limitation of High Rise growth in Lagos
If we explored the topic of 'High Rise' utilization in Lagos for example, we find some interesting observations.
Anthony Nkem Ede of Convenant University, identified some key parameters that inhibit the proliferation of the High Rise Typology. Some of these include: poor high rise construction regulation and maintenance, self generation of power and water, lack of domestic expertise for high rise buildings, external fire fighting poor response and a lack of structural integrity checks.
Eko Atlantic City essentially addresses all these inhibitors. The video above highlights just how efficient and widespread services will be within the city. Services will be modern, subterranean, efficient and accessible to all developments within the city. Therefore inefficiencies in service provision will not amplify the cost of new builds or the ongoing costs of existing ones. Furthermore the maintenance and protection of such buildings will be more easily be attainable, through more coherent, thorough and applied regulations and services.
Organization & Confidence
This is not only a factor on operation, but also a factor on investment. Investment is hinged on sustainability and confidence. Eko Atlantic City presents a climate that generates confidence and efficiency. Ongoing costs will be lower, but growth will also be higher. Additionally, in Eko Atlantic City we see better organization. Improved organization with the formation of identifiable and modern companies such as Eko Development Company, South Energyx, Eko Pearl Nigeria and Satellite Oil & Gas International Limited. These companies are modern entities with International affiliates, consultants and expertise. Therefore not only is the possibility of growth, more easily attainable in Eko Atlantic City, but the skilled workforce required to deliver such complex projects are widely available.
As mentioned previously, one of the key problems that has stalled the growth of the high rise typology in Lagos is infrastructural in nature. Even by African standards, Nigeria is recognized as having an abysmal electrical consumption rate per capita (National Kwh per capita). Nigeria also has a low percentage of urban piped water access, particularly trailing behind all other countries in the list above, with the exception of Angola.
Where Lagos and Nigeria are doing quite well, is however in economic terms. The growth rate of Nigeria is well above global and African averages and ahead of that of Kenya, Angola, South Africa and Egypt for the projected period of 2015-2019. The ROI is also quite high in Nigeria and one of the key elements of this can be found in rental yields. The prime yield in Lagos for example, is only significantly lower than Luanda in the list above. Lagos is the economic heartbeat of Nigeria, but it should be noted that as a percentage of national population, other centres in Africa such as Luanda, Cairo, Abidjan and Nairobi are more crucial centres for their respective countries. Therefore these cities represent a disproportionate manifestation of their respective nation's urban output.
One cannot or should not have an intellectual discussion about high rise proliferation, without considering the physical aspects. In real terms, Lagos needs high rise constructions. It has the highest density among the major Metropolitan areas in Africa, according to many list. In this list above that we compiled, it trails only slightly behind Abidjan. Urban density is high and thus land prices are extremely costly in many places. High rises are necessitated by its physical reality.
Naturally, Lagos trails behind the South Africa centres due to their enhanced infrastructural systems and the ease of conducting business in Africa's most industrialized nation. However, it is a little puzzling that Lagos trails behind the East African centres of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. One explanation could be found in the historical significance of these two centres, another appropriate finding however lies in the improved service provisions of these East African cities and also in the structural framework of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania).
The Unit TItles Act of 2008 (Tanzania) is more comprehensive and less restrictive than Nigeria's Land Use Act (2004), i.e. the LUA. These acts, effectively allow individual owners to own part of a building (unit). This can also be described as a strata title. Giving ownership to multiple owners, allows the synthesis of service provision and fuels the growth of dense developments, via multiple investors. The difference between Tanzania and Nigeria however, is in the level of restrictiveness. For example in Tanzania the entitlement of unit ownership can also extend to common areas within a building (such as lifts, lobbies, driveways), whereas in Nigeria, owners are not entitled to interest over these areas. Consequently we see a market in Tanzania that is easier to invest in and operate in and this is to an extent a factor in dense urban growth.
Historical Legacy and Future Anticipation
When considering the historical legacy of Lagos; as perhaps the only notable city in Africa to "Abandon" the imprint of its traditional CBD - the lack of structure and organization in Lagos is amplified even further. Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki do not have a history of commercial organization and direction and thus, this also restricts the growth of densification. The Lagos State Government itself has zoned many areas of these communities and in such areas, development is restricted to 15 Floors or even below. Other Africa centres do have parallel urban districts to rival their historic centres, such as Westlands in Nairobi or Sandton in Johannesburg. However these areas have not emerged to the detriment of the historical cores, as is the case in Lagos.
Lagos is a city that is restricted by its past; the failure to consolidate on the gains of Lagos Island, but it is also hanging in the balance of the Eko Atlantic phenomenon. Densification is heading the way of Eko Atlantic City and it is believed that a lot of investors are anticipating the area as the prime choice for future expansion.
Eko Atlantic City offers everything that is restricted in Lagos Island, Victoria Island and other centres. It also offers improved organization and infrastructural provision. It will be Lagos's immediate answer to urban densification. Within 10 years, we project that Lagos should rise to the top 3 in Africa in High Rise frequency.
Written by T.Adeniyi for Blackborderbuild.com