Now, Nigeria wants to follow suit with the building of a Centenary City, as one of the signposts of its centenary anniversary, due in January 2014, but whose celebration kicks off this month. We will come to this later, but first let us take a brief tour of these five outstanding special cities and see what they look like.
We are very familiar with Dubai. Nigerian traders and other businesspersons troop to Dubai daily for business and pleasure. Studies carried out on small-scale traders in Nigeria by analysts show that we spend a minimum of about $158.4 million (N24.7bn) annually on importation of fabrics and textiles from Dubai alone.
Although Dubai’s economy had the oil and gas industry as its backbone, revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 7 percent of the emirate’s revenues. As of 2009, India was Dubai’s largest trade partner. Deira, Dubai’s twin across the Dubai creek, were important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city’s banking and financial centres were headquartered in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route in the 1970s through 1980s.
Dubai Internet combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such as Hewlett-Packard, EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sky News and AP.
The government’s decision to diversify from a trade-based, oil-reliant economy to one that is service and tourism-oriented made property more valuable, resulting in the property appreciation from 2004–2006. A longer-term assessment of Dubai’s property market, however, showed depreciation; some properties lost as much as 64 percent of their value from 2001 to November 2008.
Tourism is a huge source of revenue for Dubai. It is an important part of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate.
One of Monaco’s main sources of income is tourism. The rich storms this state of a little over 34,000 population often for leisure. Each year, many foreigners are attracted to its casino (which citizens are prohibited from) and pleasant climate.
In 2001, a major new construction project extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbour. The principality has successfully sought to diversify its economic base into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries, such as cosmetics and biothermics.
Monaco is renowned for casino industry. The Blancs opened Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo in 1858, and the casino benefitted from the tourist traffic, the newly built French railway system created. Due to the combination of the casino and the railroads, Monaco finally recovered from the previous half century of economic slump, and the principality’s success attracted other businesses.
This writer was in Monaco in June last year and witnessed the beauty, pump and pageantry that Monte Carlo, Monaco’s principal city depicts. Hotel de Paris, Hotel Hermitage and the Monte Carlo Casino - an axis of fun, situate in the heart of bubbling Monte Carlo. Yours sincerely was in Monte Carlo to report Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, the 12th in the series. Monaco, officially called the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city state, small in size but big in beauty and opulence. It is strategically located on the French Riviera in Western Europe, bordered by France on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original four Asian Tigers. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, and most business-friendly. Tourism forms a large part of the economy, and 10.2 million tourists visited the country in 2007.
Shenzhen is a major manufacturing centre in China. The city was described as constructing “one high-rise a day and one boulevard every three days” in the 1990s, The Shenzhen’s rapidly growing skyline is regarded as one of the best in the world. It currently has 26 buildings at over 200 meters tall, including the Shun High Square (the eighth tallest building in the world).
Shenzhen is home to some of China’s most successful quality brand high-tech companies, such as BYD, Dingoo, G’five, Hasee, and Huawei, JXD, Konka, Netac, Skyworth, Tencent, etc. Taiwan’s largest company Hon Hai Group (Foxconn) has a manufacturing plant based in Shenzhen. Many foreign high-tech companies have their operations in the Science and Technology Park in Nanshan District or outside the core districts where labour and land are much cheaper.
Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Centre is a super large public construction with multi-functions of hosting business activities, celebrations, conferences, conventions, entertainment events, exhibitions, restaurants and all kinds of shows.
Shenzhen has robust industrial zones. Songdo
Songdo International Business District (SIBD) is a new smart city built from scratch on 1,500 acres (610ha) of reclaimed land along the Incheon’s waterfront, 65 kilometres West of Seoul, South Korea, and connected to Incheon International Airport by a 12.3-kilometre reinforced concrete highway bridge called Incheon Bridge. Along with Yeonjong and Cheongna, it is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
Built on 1,500 acres of land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea off Incheon, about 56 kilometres from the South’s capital Seoul, Songdo International Business District is the largest private real estate development in history. By its completion date in 2015, the district is planned to contain 80,000 apartments, 50,000,000 square feet (4,600,000 m2) of office space and 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 m2) of retail space.
These cities come with enterprise and jobs in their thousands. In Monaco for instance, a very expensive principality, taxi drivers, who move tourists in and out of Monaco from Nice in France, and from other neighbouring countries like Italy and others in Europe, live outside Monaco. Thousands of other labour hands who work in Monaco’s tourism industry. Most of them live outside Monaco. Many live in Nice. They include hotel waiters, chefs, boat handlers etc.
The Government of Gabon is building, in partnership with OLAM International, the Nkok Special Economic Zone, in the heart of the estuary in Gabon. This writer was part of the facility tour of the project, and other points of economic development, which drew 45 journalists from across the globe. “The Nkok Special Economic Zone is a true cornerstone of enlightened cooperation between OLAM and the Gabonese Republic aimed to give the country an economic instrument of choice, which will ensure healthy competitive business,” said Gagan Gupta, director general, OLAM Gabon SA.
The Nkok Special Economic Zone is part of Gabon’s ex nihilo land policy, with the construction of an economic urban complex which is modern, integrated and multimodal – building houses, road infrastructure and leisure facilities. Due to its single tax status, the economic zone will ensure a stable and competitive economic climate and it is expected to attract US$1 billion of investment; and furthermore, because it aims to transform Gabon’s natural resources locally, it is an economic instrument which can be used to highlight the country’s natural wealth, sideline the export of raw materials and empower the forestry sector to become an innovative industry and technology, said Gupta.
Nigeria is joining the club of special city builders. It wants to build a Centenary City as part of programmes lined up to celebrate its 100 years of existence, due January 2014.
Nigeria’s centenary city, to be sited two kilometres from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, will create 55,000 jobs, host 500,000 visitors daily and will have a residential population of 100,000. The city, according to Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), is conceived to focus attention of the investing world on Nigeria in a way that has never been done before.
“By the end of its planned five-year development cycle, this innovative and vibrant city would have created 50,000 construction jobs and 5000 permanent well-paying jobs. The city is planned for a residential population of about 100,000 people, but to host about 500,000 visitors daily,” said Anyim.
Anyim, who was speaking at the presentation of the centenary project concept document recently in Lagos, said the city, which will be 100 percent private sector investment, shall promote world-class multinational and domestic businesses in a master planned environment that gives meaning to life, energy for work and pleasure for play, while permanently contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth, diversity and greatness into the next centenary.