Reuters

South Sudan tries to estimate the costs of building Ramciel.

The infant nation of South Sudan has a big construction project in mind. Officials are hoping to build a brand new city to act as its capital. The cost of the project was recently estimated at $940 million.

South Sudan already has a capital, of sorts. Juba had long been the regional center of government before Sudan split into two countries last July. But because of Juba's hectic and crowded urban form, the new government decided it needed a new city to play the capital. Last September, a new site was selected in Ramciel, near the geographic center of the country.

The project will be built by the Korea Land and Housing Corporation, the state builder of South Korea, which specializes in the "construction of new cities overseas."

$940 million sounds like a lot, but compared to some other brand new cities, it's pocket change. New Songdo City, the Kohn Pedersen Fox master-planned* sustainable city on the South Korean waterfront is expected to cost more than $30 billion to build. Masdar City, another city-from-scratch in Abu Dhabi designed by Foster + Partners, is expected to cost more than $20 billion by the time it's fully built sometime around 2025. And in Honduras, where economist Paul Romer is hoping to help create a charter city for nearly 10 million people, building such a "special development region" would likely run into the multiple billions as well.

Exactly when South Sudan's new capital will take shape remains uncertain. The costs of building the project are one hurdle, though officials say that some as-yet-unnamed donors will handle the financing. Maybe more of a hindrance is the continued violence and tension between the now-separated Sudans. The oil-rich land of South Sudan has long been a point of contention between the two regions, though violence appeared to calm in the months following the formal split. But since April, tribal clashes in border areas have spread and caused hundreds of South Sudanese to flee.

The project remains a priority for the new nation, and the Korea Land and Housing Corporation estimates that the project will take five years to complete. When the project actually breaks ground, however, is less clear.

Photo credit: Petar Kujundzic / Reuters

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the design of New Songdo City to Foster + Partners.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  2. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.

  3. a photo of San Francisco tourists posing before the city's iconic skyline.
    Life

    Cities Don’t Have Souls. Why Do We Battle For Them?

    What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change.

  4. A man checks a route on his phone while in a car.
    Equity

    Conversations With D.C. Uber Drivers Reveal Stress and Debt

    A new report from Georgetown University reveals wage and other challenges faced by Uber drivers in Washington, D.C., yet many say they plan to keep driving.

  5. A photo of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris.
    Design

    Amid Notre-Dame’s Destruction, There’s Hope for Restoration

    Flames consumed the roof and spire of the 13th-century cathedral in Paris. The good news: Gothic architecture is built to handle this kind of disaster.