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Belas, Angola

Nova Cidade de Kilamba

This sprawling, multi-colored housing development in Angola was funded by Chinese oil and is now almost completely empty. 

Like some of the sprawling modern ghost towns in China proper, Angola’s newly built housing development Nova Cidade de Kilamba, funded by China in exchange for oil, is an untouched settlement that is sold as a socially conscious residential development, but is far too expensive and remote for the society to take advantage of it.  

Established in the early 2010s, Nova Cidade de Kilamba (Kilamba New City) was meant to fulfill some of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ campaign promise to create a million new homes in an effort to take some of the poverty and pressure off of the over-crowded slums that dominate the country’s capitol city of Luanda. Using credit given to the country from a Chinese governmental agency who accepted Angolan oil as repayment, over 700, eight-story apartment blocks were created, right along with schools and limited commercial space. Each of the blocks was painted a primary color, giving the city a strangely upbeat rainbow look.

While the ambitious project seemed like a good idea at the time, the creators failed to account for the lack of an Angolan middle class able to afford such rentals. With many Angolans living off of no more than $2 a day, the apartments, which cost between $120,000 - $200,000, are simply out of reach. This being the case, only around 20,000 tenants have moved into the project and only one of the schools has opened, and that has to be filled by bussing kids in from other areas.

Despite the troubling lack of tenants, Nova Cidade de Kilamba does seem to be receiving some support from the Angolan government who plans on opening a portion of the apartments to low income housing, estimating that the population could double or more in coming years. Lets hope they have better luck than China’s ghost cities.