Sub Saharan Africa has experienced an upward surge in the area of technology startups and businesses. Major players include Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania Ghana and Kenya which currently are using technology to power different areas of the economy from agriculture to healthcare and trading. This provides jobs, eases operations and is attracting foreign investment. Among the “tech” developments in the region, is the ambitious journey to create massive tech hubs to act as a central space, driving the respective economies upward. While Kenya currently constructs their Konza Technology City (tagged “Africa’s Silicon Savannah,”) and and Lagos, Nigeria constructs its Financial Hub Ghana has set plans to build Hope City, a $10 billion high-tech hub aiming to be the tallest building in Africa and to lead ICT in West Africa.
Hope City : Ghana’s Technopolis
March 2013, John Mahama, the Ghanaian president launched Hope City ICT project. A plan to make Ghana, a breeding ground for world-class innovation. Construction was set to start by June , 2013 and span 3 years. This initiative was fostered by Ghanaian businessman Roland Agambire, head of local technology group RLG Communications. The project was said to have had the support of several international partners including Microsoft.
The hub’s sustainable facilities will include an assembly plant for various tech products, business offices, an IT university and a hospital, as well as housing and recreation spaces, including restaurants, theaters and sports centers.
According to CNN, Agambire, 39, whose company has acquired the land where the technopolis will be built says
“What is lacking in the African continent is a place where you can have well-designed products, backed with concrete research and proper hardware and software developers to be able to create infrastructure for the telecoms industry,” .
“So the inspiration behind Hope City is to have an iconic ICT park where ICT players from all over the world can converge to design, fabricate and export software and everything arising from this country,” he adds.
With the support of the Ghanaian Government, it aims to create thousands of jobs and help turn technology into one of the country’s main economic drivers.
Behold Africa’s Tallest building
Designed by Italian firm Architect OBR, the technopolis will be made up of six towers of different dimensions, including a 75-story, 270 meter-high building that is expected to be the highest in Africa.
Hope City will be developed in an area of about 1.5 million square meters, located some 30 minutes west of Accra’s city center.
OBR co-founder Paolo Brescia says,
“This place is designed to keep people together,” he adds. “We developed this idea, not as a campus, where you have buildings which are dedicated to single functions, but as a city which is developed in a vertical way so that everything could be interconnected.”
For Agambire, “Hope City will be one of the biggest dreams that Africa has ever seen.”
Is Hope City dead ?
In 2015. Two years after the lavish launch party thrown at the Nation Stadium (which hosted America R&B singer, Chris brown) to mark the commencement of plans to build Hope City. Just weeks after the ground breaking, the proposed site for the project was moved to a different location and the project’s Italian architects had gone back to the drawing board to redesign their blueprints, two moves reported to have been necessities, which set the project backward.
Roland Agambire has been reported to be caught up in high-profile scandals. In the past two years, Agambire’s AGAMS Holdings — of which RLG is a subsidiary — has also been implicated in controversies surrounding the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency. After investigations, AGAMS subsidiaries were ordered to repay an amount in excess of 55 million cedis (about $14 million at the 2015 exchange rate).
“We are committed to making those payments, and we are paying and the controversies would have no impact on the future of Hope City” Agambire said.
The economic downturn in Ghana which has led to a steep slide in the value of the Ghanaian cedi, has made some question whether such an ambitious project will even get off the ground.
While many question the fulfillment of Agambire’s Hope City, he remains unfazed.
Time is also on the mind of RLG’s Agambire, who noted that “it doesn’t take a day or a moment to change people’s minds. It takes centuries and time.” He expressed confidence that Hope City would ultimately prove the skeptics wrong.
“Once they begin to feel the change by being part of it,” he said, “the same people will tell you, Yes, we believe it.’”