In his epic 1976 anthem "Go Slow," Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti described the traffic in his hometown of Lagos, casting it as a metaphor for Nigeria's spiritual standstill. "Then your head start to ache because car crush they for your head," he sang. "Lorry they for your front, tipper they for your back, motorcycle they for your left, taxi-moto they for your right."

It's a far cry from this vision of the city put forth by the developers of a new seafront business and residential district for Lagos called Eko Atlantic: "It will be a masterpiece of urban planning ... with its wide boulevards [and] tree-lined avenues with views over the marina and waterway, dynamic waterfront [and] traffic that flows."
If it seems there is a gulf between the two, there is — literally. Eko Atlantic is an artificial island, just offshore, being created entirely from scratch, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor. It will be 7 km wide, extend about 2 km out to sea and house 250,000 residents, with offices for 150,000 commuters. A scale model at the offices of its developers, South Energyx Nigeria, features gin-clear canals, giant malls, three marinas, trams, the island's own power station and a sail-shaped 55-story skyscraper that will be the new headquarters for a Nigerian bank. David Frame, South Energyx Nigeria's managing director, calls Eko Atlantic "the new face of Africa." Onno Ruhl, country head for the World Bank, goes even further, calling it the future Hong Kong of Africa. But plans for Lagos' renovation don't end offshore. Eko Atlantic is the centerpiece of a city redevelopment strategy whose ambition is simple and astonishing: take one of the world's worst cities and make it one of the best. "This is a real attempt to prove Lagos can be an economic powerhouse and a gateway to Africa," declares Frame. Ruhl says, "It's an amazing thing, not least because it actually looks like it will happen."

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