If you are a first-time visitor, nothing can prepare you for the sheer magnitude of Lagos. Africa’s largest mega-city is teeming with over 21 million people. The city produces a third of Nigeria’s GDP, which in turn surpassed South Africa last year to become the continent’s largest economy. Up to 4,000 economic migrants arrive every day, amidst tumultuous streets and impenetrable traffic jams.
Amongst this pandemonium, though, the Lagos state government is definitely thinking big. Developers have been making progress of late on the long-awaited Eko Atlantic – a sprawling, multi-billion dollar business hub along the city’s renowned Bar Beach coast. The government plan involves reclaiming ten square kilometers of land from the Atlantic Ocean, and building enough infrastructure to house over 400,000 residents and workers. When completed, Eko will also play a valuable environmental role as a man-made barrier to prevent further erosion of Lagos’ coastline. The mega-project’s developers claim that its first residential building will be available for move-in as early as 2016. However, in a city where the government cannot complete a light rail project even after borrowing US$ 1 billion from the World Bank, skepticism toward this aggressive timeline is rife. And amidst the already vast wealth disparity gap in Lagos, many are asking whether any of Eko’s proclaimed benefits will reach the millions of impoverished residents in the project’s surrounding slums.