As the first morning of the Future Cities conference wrapped up, discussion focused on the economic and environmental advantages of large-scale extra-governmental development projects. Arnold Meyer, head of Real Estate Africa at Renaissance Group, the morning’s penultimate speaker, claimed that these mega-developments could “leap-frog” existing cities in terms of social, economic, and environmental conditions. David Frame, managing director of the massive Eko Atlantic project in Lagos, spoke during the following panel about how by “reclaiming” and stabilizing a stretch of land on Victoria Island, they are radically improving the business environment, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and thereby substantially improving the standard of living of Lagos.
These speakers championed large-scale top-down development models, with little resistance from the discussion moderator or conference attendees. What, one might ask, happens to the existing cities? What are the repercussions of increasing the rich/ poor divide?