Zendai to build 'New York of Africa'

Developer plans to turn Johannesburg suburb into financial hub in HK$61b project

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 5:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 5:47pm

Shanghai Zendai Property plans to transform a Johannesburg suburb into the "New York of Africa" with an 80 billion rand (HK$61 billion) investment over the next 15 years, chairman Dai Zhikang said.

The Hong Kong-based developer will build a financial hub, as many as 35,000 houses, an educational centre and a sport stadium in the 1,600 hectares of land it bought from AECI in Modderfontein.

The area, now used for manufacturing, is about 15 kilometres east of Sandton, the city's main financial centre, and the same distance west of OR Tambo International Airport, Africa's biggest airport.

"It will become the future capital of the whole of Africa," Dai said yesterday. "This will be on par with cities like New York in America or Hong Kong in the Far East."

The development, which is yet to be named, would become a hub for Chinese firms investing in sub-Saharan Africa, Dai said.

While Johannesburg already offered a base for companies investing in Africa, the city had not got enough space to cater for the growing demand for offices and homes, he said.

Shanghai Zendai paid AECI 1.06 billion rand for the land, it said.

The area is home to an explosives factory that opened in 1896 to support the gold-mining industry. It included a wetlands area that would be protected and could be the equivalent of Central Park in New York, Dai said.

Shanghai Zendai would invest its own money in the project and work with other developers, he said.

Once completed, the city will provide jobs for 100,000 people and house about 100,000 more.

"Those cities we just mentioned they were there for 100 years," Dai said. "We're talking about the next 100 years."