Juba reshaped as a rhinoceros.

With a view to changing the country’s image, especially for visitors who arrive by air, the South Sudanese authorities have come up with an original and daring solution: remodelling the towns in the shape of jungle animals.

The semi-autonomous region of South Sudan is currently holding talks with businesses to carry out the project. The idea is that Juba, the capital, would take on the form of a rhinoceros and Wau, the second-largest city, would assume the shape of a giraffe.

"It’s a very innovative project," says Daniel Wani, South Sudan's deputy minister for housing and urban development. “It would be very easy for future generations to understand what we were thinking, what we wanted to put in place. We are planning today, but thinking of the future.”

"The project is expected to cost more than a million dollars"

Alan Boswell is a journalist in Juba. He has covered this story for the press agency, Bloomberg. He also keeps a blog.

This is definitely one of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever covered. South Sudan is planning to literally re-build its city centres from scratch…into the shape of some of the safari animals the rest of the world comes to these parts to chase around in open-roofed vehicles.

The multi-decade project is estimated to cost over $10 billion (the government’s annual budget this year was less than $2 billion). These new urban centres will be owned initially by the private companies who finance the construction, under a public-private partnership model that is currently all the rage here in the wider region.

The plan is certainly going to make some groan out loud, but it might also win a number of tacit admirers, if not outright converts, for sheer ambition’s sake.

 

"Rhino City", in relation to the current city of Juba.

The city of Wau transformed into a giraffe shape.