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Building the Abuja dream

The brand new city in the middle of Nigeria has grown faster than expected. Now it is time to return to the master plan

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, minister,
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

"It is the fastest growing city in the world, and the most successful planned capital city," claims Abuja's supremo, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), head of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), and a key member of the economic management team driving reform. The city and its surrounding satellites are now home to an estimated eight million people growing at 15% a year. However, the speed of its growth has exceeded the control of its planners and given rise to a series of other problems: too many people have come too quickly, and in the process, many of the rules of the original master plan were ignored.

El-Rufai has pledged to return to the original plan, and there is evidence throughout the city that he has stuck to it. Bulldozers are knocking down illegally constructed buildings on land reserved for sewers and water; in one central market, the government has just evicted 70% of the shops; across the city, commercial properties are being forced to revert back to the residences they were originally supposed to be.

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