Appolonia City – A carefully planned neighbourhood with good infrastructure
Inside a house in Kasoa, one of Ghana’s urban development spillovers from Accra, there is an image of the country’s growing middle class. The sofas are lavish, the curtains are purple and flamboyant; the walls are creamy and the floor is sparkling with Italian marble tiles.
“We are free and can call this house our own,” Mrs Diana Asamoah says cheerfully, talking like anyone who has ever moved from a rented house with an overbearing landlord, to a house of her own, she adds, “I can do whatever I want.”
But a step outside, the impression of serenity and harmony dissolves. The scene around Ms Asamoah’s house is chaotic. Bricks and mortar are rising left and right. Many of the houses look half-completed but abandoned.
The sprawling neighbourhood has only one tarred road and many dusty ones, no sewer, no central water supply and the power supply suffers seizures. In short, the neigbourhood has the appearance of a middle-class shanty town.
It is these ills of urban sprawl and its lack of planning and lack of infrastructure that Appolonia City, arguably the country’s only satellite city, hopes to cure.
Appolonia is a 941-hectare mixed-use, mixed-income urban development, nestled in the lush plains of northern Accra.
Spread across 2,325 acres of land carefully planned for mixed use with designated residential, commercial and light industrial areas, complemented by schools, hospitals and a recreational park, the new development is located between Oyibi and Afienya.
With its first phase already started and the entire project expected to be completed in 10 years, Appolonia is expected to become a city the size of Tema Community one to 12 and home to 88,000 residents and 30,000 visitors.
Its designer and owner, Rendeavour, the largest pan-African urban land developer, is bubbling with optimism that the one of its kind city would create a live-work-play social and economic hub that reduces the pressures of urbanisation on Accra.
“By this, we are trying to cut down the journey time that people travel through the city centre every morning to work and back. If we can create jobs here and other activity notes here, people don’t have to travel those long distances,” the CEO of Appolonia City, Mr Bright Owusu-Amofah, said.
“We can assure our clients that when you buy from Appolonia, you have a peace of mind. It is titled and the infrastructure is world-class and there is security they can trust,” he said.
Rendeavour is investing more than $250 million in infrastructure, including roads, water, sewerage and power at Appolonia City. With the provision of modern facilities, Mr Owusu-Amofah said the area, would become the country’s contemporary urban oasis.
To obtain an address in Appolonia City, the options available include acquiring a house at its 400 two bedroom and three-bedroom semi-detached and detached turnkey homes, buying land at Nova Ridge to build your dream house or making an entry through the Appolonia Business Park (ABP) which was launched last year.
The park is open for a wide range of businesses including warehousing, manufacturing and distribution. There are also spaces for health facilities, shopping centres, schools and places of worship.
No city thrives without the aura of fun and entertainment and in the case of Appolonia, Ghana’s first-ever Water Park is in the offing, according to Mr Owusu-Amofah.
“The Amusement Park is the first of its kind. In Greater Accra, if you want to go somewhere with your family, there is no place to go. But that will change.
“ Appolonia is just about 30 minutes from Accra and it is just a walking distance if you acquire a property here. It has a multiplying effect which would create jobs and opportunities,” he added, as we drove past the artist impression of the park erected at the site.
Apart from the Amusement Park, each residential community will have its own clubhouse equipped with lounges, swimming pools and playgrounds.
From the site plan, it is obvious that Appolonia would probably have the biggest planned residential green zones in the country. Right from the main gate, one is greeted with captivating landscaping and sidewalks.
About 25 per cent of the development has been reserved for greening, open areas and parks which the Appolonia City CEO said” brings a lot of quality.”
“If you look at Accra now, in most cases, there is no greenery. Apart from old areas like Cantonments, there are no green spaces in East Legon, Achimota, because those areas were not properly planned. We have planned this properly and these areas would remain green. It adds to the beauty of the environment.”
Apart from the tarred roads, all utility lines are underground. There are no poles or wires hanging around except the pylons that lead to the city’s dedicated 60 KVA substation.
Appolonia is probably the only privately financed development in Ghana where even before the first house was sold there is a standing substation; and $4 million was invested in this substation.
It is a feat Mr Owusu-Amofah could not resist boasting about.
“The 60 KVA substation was built to guarantee the quality of power. We are also talking to a number of companies to generate renewable energy from solar, so the city would not be totally at the mercy of the national grid.
That aside, waste generated from the industrial park also holds potential for electricity generation.
“We are building a huge water storage tank for the development to discourage the use of plastic water tanks from springing up all over the place,” Mr Owusu-Amofah said of the two utilities.
With prices that many consider rather on the higher side, Mr Owusu-Amofah said affordability was a relative term but was quick to add that Appolonia would not be a city for only the rich.
“Because we are developing a city, we can’t have a city of only rich people or the middle-class people. We have products for various income groups.
“We are doing two feasibility projects where we are looking to come up with homes that would cost about $ 35,000.
“The owners will be in the community and benefit from the same infrastructure and amenities. we just launched a new 10-year mortgage plan with Ghana Home loans, which allows land buyers to start building their dream homes with just a 20 per cent deposit” he added.
Making a case for potential home owners to invest in the city, he said, the cost of building in an unplanned area where there were no amenities, and its cumulative cost impact in the long term, could be the same as acquiring a property in Appolonia.
Protecting an image
For some people, houses built by real estate companies are better avoided because of the frustration of dealing with poorly designed drains, cracked walls and other defects that add up to the cost of living in estate houses.
But with Rendevour’s footprints already in Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Owusu-Amofah asserted that the company’s work would speak for itself. “We are an international brand. We are active in a number of countries, so for us, the brand is very important. We would not like to do anything that affects us negatively.
“A lot of the developers in Ghana do about 20 acres which is small, so they can get away with a lot of things. You develop the 20 acres, sell it and move on to the next project, but we are doing almost 2,400 acres, so if we start off and don’t deliver, it will affect everything,” he said.