Renaissance Plans Congo City Bigger Than Kenya’s $5 Billion Tatu City

Renaissance Partners, the investment unit of Moscow-based Renaissance Group, plans to build a 6,400- acre city in the Democratic Republic of Congo as it seeks to benefit from Africa’s urbanization.The Russian firm is working on a master plan for the new urban center after securing the land outside Lubumbashi, the country’s second-largest city, Arnold Meyer, Renaissance Partners’ managing director in charge of real estate in Africa, said in an interview in London. Renaissance is considering similar projects in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda, he said.

“The West has peaked in terms of economic growth and the new markets are in Africa,” Meyer, 39, said. “And the main drivers of this growth in Africa are going to be cities.”Renaissance’s Lubumbashi project will be more than double the size of Tatu City, the $5 billion center that the Russian firm is building from scratch outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The Moscow firm, headed by Stephen Jennings, plans to take advantage of Africa’s economic growth and emergence of a growing urban middle class demanding better infrastructure.

In Nairobi, where the population has been increasing about 4 percent a year over the last decade, one in four residents lacks access to piped water and about 40 percent of people use open-pit toilets, according to Kenya’s statistics agency. Tatu City, a 2,500-acre site about nine miles north of the capital, will eventually have 62,000 residents and include a stadium, technology park, hospital, shops, office towers and playgrounds, the firm said in October, when it started the project. The Nairobi Stock Exchange is in talks with Renaissance about relocating there, Meyer said.

Tatu Construction Schedule

“We’ve had two meetings with the stock exchange, and we have another presentation in two weeks,” Meyer said. “We created a zone which would be ideal for them.”Renaissance is now installing electricity and water lines in Tatu, which will function as an independent municipality, and expects the first buildings to be erected by the end of 2013, Meyer said. The firm will sign an agreement with Kenya’s government next week to include Tatu in the country’s Vision 2030 plan, designed to boost infrastructure.Renaissance is in a legal dispute with a local partner over the ownership of coffee lands north of Tatu, some of which Meyer says could be used as an extension of the city. The dispute hasn’t affected the Tatu development itself, he said.

The firm is also working on the design of two projects of about 2,500 acres each outside Accra and Takoradi in Ghana, Meyer said. It is considering buying land near Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil harbor, as well as near Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, he said.“In 1980, you had 400 million people on the continent,” Meyer said. “Last year they went through the 1 billion barrier. And in another 30 years, that doubles to 2 billion. Imagine the combined energy.”

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