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Zanzibar is undergoing an infrastructure overhaul on a scale not witnessed since independence, with plans to turn the archipelago famed for its pristine beaches and narrow-alleyed old towns into a megalopolis- How we made it in Africa

The Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar aims high with plans for a 28-story, 96-meter-tall apartment tower named Burj Zanzibar, designed in hybrid timber technology that its developers say will make it the first timber structure of its kind in the world.

The project, expected to be completed at the end of 2026, will be in Fumba Town, an eco-town developed by German-led engineering firm CPS. “Burj Zanzibar promotes the use of timber for construction and contributes to the development of the local value chain using widely available timber resources in Tanzania,” says the project’s Dutch-born architect, Leander Moons, to Forbes Africa.

When complete, it’s expected to overtake the 86.6-meter Ascent Tower in Milwaukee, US, recently certified as the world’s tallest timber hybrid building. The project will be executed by specialists from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, South Africa, Tanzania, and the US.

However, the new concept does come with its challenges, being the first of its kind on the continent. Yet the popularity and fast growth of Fumba Town as an investment opportunity is a possible indication of the increasing demand for more sustainable solutions that also benefit local communities.

Tanzania’s top skyscraper is the 157-meter Ports Authority building in Dar es Salaam.

The luxury development boom is seen as a bid by Zanzibar’s President Hussein Ali Mwinyi to recalibrate the island’s economic model.

A Bloomberg report indicates Zanzibar is touting a $2 billion plan to woo start-ups and shipping, explore for energy and to process seaweed as it seeks to diversify from tourism and boost its blue economy.

This is part of a five-year plan and the government will hire advisors for the financing and debt needed to fund almost two dozen wide-ranging projects with an estimated value of $ 2.4 billion.

New wealth is streaming in from the Middle East (Zanzibar was ruled by the Sultans of Oman from 1698 to 1963) and overseas investors are expected to prop up the archipelago’s real estate sector.

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