South Africa’s first smart city showing no progress — photos

Progress on South Africa’s smart city set to be erected between the Lanseria International Airport and Blair Athol Golf Estate is slow. So slow that it appears nothing has been done.

MyBroadband took a trip to the area to photograph the progress. However, besides an informal settlement, we could only see open grassland.

During his 2020 state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the new smart city would be a “truly post-apartheid city” that 350,000 to 500,000 people will call home.

“A new smart city is taking shape in Lanseria, which 350,000 to 500,000 people will call home within the next decade,” he said.

“It will not only be smart and 5G-ready but will be a leading benchmark for green infrastructure continental and internationally.”

Plans for the city first surfaced in 2007, with construction expected to take 25 years once developers break ground in the area.

However, three years after Ramaphosa’s address and 16 years after the plans first surfaced, it appears that nothing has been done.

We drove along Ashenti Road between the entrance to Lanseria International Airport and the Blair Athol Golf Estate, taking pictures of the area along the route.

The route is marked on the Google Maps screenshot below.

About halfway along the route sits an informal settlement with spaza shops, other small businesses, and some housing.

It will be interesting to learn the settlement’s fate should construction ever begin in the area.

A photograph of the informal settlement — which sits a few metres away from Ashenti Road — is included below.

The other side of the road comprises open grassland, like most of the rest of the area. There are also several electricity pylons strewn across the property.

The City of Johannesburg adopted the provincial government’s plan for the Lanseria smart city in May 2021. The city is to be built surrounding Lanseria International Airport, north of Johannesburg,

The plan is to build a smart city that is innovative, sustainable, green, and designed to “interface with nature” to ensure minimal environmental impact.

This includes implementing rainwater harvesting and solar power generation to minimise the city’s carbon footprint.

Plans firmly focused on minimising the need for residents to commute using cars. The intention is for residents and workers to commute on foot, by cycling, or, if need be, by public transport.

To achieve this, the plan is to design buildings to optimise vertical integration.

This involves concentrating retail businesses at ground level, a few office levels in the middle, and residential apartments, penthouses and hotels higher up in the buildings.

The city will be built on “smart” technology and systems to benefit all residents, companies, businesses, and visitors using up-to-date infrastructure for cell phones, Wi-Fi, information networks and high-speed broadband.

MyBroadband asked the Office of the President and Crosspoint Property for comment, but they had not responded by the time of publication.

Crosspoint is the property investment group packaging various projects for the Lanseria smart city development.

Photographs of the area where the Lanseria smart city is set to be built are provided below.

Ashenti Road with the Lanseria International Airport in the distance

An informal settlement in the middle of the area set to be developed for the Lanseria smart city
A better view of the informal settlement
Smart City site nearer to the Blair Athol Golf Estate

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South Africa’s first smart city showing no progress — photos