At the end of the fifteenth century the Portuguese arrived in Africa. Shortly thereafter, in 1575, they discovered Luanda and began to spread throughout the west coast. Hundreds of years later, in the nineteenth century, the Portuguese, more than ever strong in numbers, consolidated their colonial empire within the borders of Angola. It lasted until 1975 – the year when the country reclaimed its independence.
That, however, was not the end of the inner turmoil: after the centuries of occupation, Angolans found themselves once again in a state of conflict. Struggling to reestablish a unified government, it took the country another 27 years to heal the old wounds of colonial terror.
In 2002, the peace was finally restored. For the first time in its history, Angola was given a real opportunity to engage in change. The country began to gradually rebuild its infrastructure, relying heavily on its rich oil resources and foreign loans. The development boom was followed by the creation of numerous new jobs, which in turn fostered the rise of the middle socioeconomic class, whose members had managed to lift themselves out of poverty.
To many Angolans, the promise of oil meant a chance for greater mobility, but it was the middle class who most vigorously demanded better living conditions. In response to that, in 2008 President Jose Eduardo dos Santos pledged to build one million homes. His announcement caught the attention of leading investors from China, who decided to turn the Angolan housing crisis into a mutually beneficial business opportunity.
$3.5 billion construction project
The $3.5 billion construction project began in 2008, and by 2012 over 700 residential buildings were ready to accommodate Luandans. During those years, China’s then Vice-President Xi Jinping did not hesitate to visit the construction site. In November 2010, he came to Kilamba in order to establish the official strategic partnership between Angola and China. The joint agreement emphasises infrastructure and urban construction as the key sectors for continuing the successful cooperation between the two rapidly growing countries.
Kilamba relies on its own power generator, completely autonomous from other electricity sites in the country. To provide all residents with access to the cleanest water, CITIC made sure to develop a high-tech hydraulic system, distributing the finest water to all apartments. In addition to that, there are numerous drinking water supply stations scattered throughout the new city complex available at the residents’ convenience. In order to keep Kilamba clean, there is a comprehensive sewage system, along with an efficient water treatment plant. It is also equipped with a road that leads straight into Luanda as well as several other roads around the city. A notable difference is that these roads are equipped with traffic lights and unlike many other African countries, drivers will stop at a red light to let pedestrians pass.
To promote local manufacturing, they offered advantages to the manufacturing sector through tax reliefs. All materials used in the construction were made by local factories in Angola.
It is now a city in its own right with municipal buildings, roads and traffic management, schools, hospitals, commercial spaces, playgrounds, gyms, parks, stadiums, public transportation and everything else you’d expect to find in a well developed urban area.
A prime example of Sino-Angolan partnership at work
More than 13000 jobs created
While many doubted the country’s economic potential, China seized the opportunity to work with Angolans. The vision of Kilamba, shared between Chinese and Angolan planners and engineers, began to materialise as the negotiations between the countries reached their peak. By 2011, roughly 50 Chinese state-owned firms and 400 small-to-medium enterprises were involved in the development. In the meantime, local workers were recruited. They underwent comprehensive off and on-job training in order to join their Chinese colleagues on site. The Kilamba project also allowed a lot of job creation in the city, with 7000 young graduates, 1500 security agents and 5000 cleaning agents further increasing economic development.
over 700 residential buildings
Angola is the first African country to undertake such a huge project in such a short amount of time.There are currently over 700 residential buildings in the Kilamba area, including multiple-story apartment blocks and a handful of single-family homes. It is important to note that the master plan of the city was designed by a Chinese Institution but according to Angolan specifications, such as a living area of 110 meters instead of the usual 100 meters to accommodate African families which usually consist of 6 to 7 members. Finished in 2012, the complex was immediately available to Luanda’s citizens ready to move out from the crouded capital. Convinced by the increasing demand for Kilamba apartments, the president relaxed the strict mortgage regulations, previously preventing the majority of Angolans from acquiring properties. The new legislation allowed for the sales to rise, and by the end of September 2013 all Kilamba apartments were sold out.
Kilamba is home to more than 70,000 Angolans
Organised and peaceful, life at Kilamba is very different from that in the overpopulated capital. Free from noise and pollution, the residents describe it as safe and clean. The location was a very important factor because it needed to be close to Luanda, the capital city, but far away from the congestion, as well as close to water, electricity and good land. Thanks to numerous schools and kindergartens, parents consider the new city a great place to start a family and raise their children. A number of on-site playgrounds, shops and restaurants makes the life of the busy parents easier. For those looking to take their career to the next level, Kilamba’s two professional centers offer consulting services and courses in areas ranging from foreign languages to business to IT.
Today, Kilamba is home to more than 70,000 Angolans, and according to the official estimates, the population of the complex is bound to surpass 200,000 in the incoming months. They have begun phase two of the project which involves a lot more development and hope to accommodate 500,000 upon completion.