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African soil. “Rather than being initiators of this process, African governments are the recipients,” writes Martyn Davies, director of the China Africa Network. “China is carving out designated SEZs across the continent. These zones are positioned to become Africa’s new economic growth nodes.”  In the case of Lekki, it is the China Civil Engineering Corporation which initiated the project. The Chinese developers hold a 60% majority stake in the Lekki Free Zone Development Company (LFZDC), which has a 50-year lease on the site. The other 40% is in the hands of the Lagos State government.   UKRAINIAN MAYONNAISE Almost before we’ve reached a halt, our exuberant guide jumps out of his red Nissan Petrol SUV. “Here,” he signals, crossing the yellow sand to the lake’s edge. “This is the heart of Lekki.” He points to the still-vacant spots where buildings are set to rise in the coming decade: the exhibition centre over here, the offices there, houses behind it. “It is going to be a masterpiece,” he announces confidently.   Omodele Phil Doherty is a talkative business developer for the Lekki Free Zone. It is his job to show potential investors the countless possibilities of the area. “We want to attract investors, bankers and realtors from all over the world. It is not going to be a Chinese city. Not that there would be something wrong with that, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves. It is going to be very international.”  As we continue our tour of the zone, we see blue industrial land on the Lekki peninsula is waiting to be developed.  Behind the entrance gate, there is still little to be seen of this prosperous future. Currently, half of the Lekki Free Zone consists of untouched nature, the other half of vast, empty stretches of yellow sand, poised for development.  Construction of the Lekki Deep Sea Port, a key in the development of the free trade zone, is due to start in July this year – at least that’s the plan. Controversy over government funding endangers the progress. The Lekki Free Trade Zone might one day be the centre for a prosperous “Made in Africa” industry. At least, that is the hope. Plans to export this particular part of China’s development model have existed for some years. The strategic rationale behind the idea is that overseas SEZs would offer “safe havens” for Chinese companies. By moving production abroad, these companies would be less susceptible to protectionist trade policies against products “made in China”.   Furthermore, the model could help underdeveloped countries mirror China’s own economic successes. To that end, in 2006 the Chinese government announced plans to establish around 50 overseas trade and cooperation zones. Three to five of those would be located in Africa. There are currently zones in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Mauritius.  It is important to understand the implications of such a move. These African SEZs represent a Chinese development plan, initiated by the Chinese government, executed by Chinese companies and planned by Chinese urbanists – but on 245 African Union building, designed in China, made by China, paid by China China Civel Engeneering and Construction Company is ready to start building, Lekki Free Trade Zone, Nigeria Welcome to Lekki Free Trade Zone, a small piece of China in Nigeria


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