The fascinating phenomena of ghost towns has well and truly captured the modern online imagination. They tend to be towns built in remote locations that through a quirk of fate or economics have become depopulated and eventually abandoned, leaving nature to reclaim them. However the newer version is the ghost city, a place built ready for tens of thousands to move into, but which instead sit eerily empty waiting for their inhabitants. One such ghost city is Nova Cidade de Kilamba (Kilamba New City), in Angola. This colourful, contemporary city of primary-coloured tower blocks was built by China in exchange for oil in the early 2010s, but film and photographs show its optimistically painted buildings and immaculate streets still empty years later.
The city was built on the instruction of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had pledged to build new homes to replace the slums surrounding the country’s capital of Luanda. Over 700 apartment blocks of eight floors each were built and went on sale priced between $100,000 and $200,000 – but as the average wage of many Angolans is just $2 per day, and with problems accessing mortgages for large portions of the population too, the city sat empty, waiting for the noise and bustle of residents to fill it.
It wasn’t until 2013 that the president took further action, launching a state-backed mortgage scheme to help middle class Angolans access credit to buy their own homes and prompt price drops in the empty city… resulting in days-long queues of applicants for the more affordable homes. Today the city is becoming decidedly less ghostly, with plans for a further 10,000 new rainbow apartments announced this summer.