Replicating China's urban model in Africa has its challenges, but with limited developable space in Addis Ababa -- the capital is surrounded by protected farmland
-- Wang believes high-rise living, such as Tsehay Real Estate's $60 million Poli Lotus development, is inevitable.
Theodros Amdeberhan, an Ethiopian lawyer, last year bought a three-bedroom, fifth-floor apartment here for about 3.5 million birr ($127,000). "Local developers never deliver on time," says Amdeberhan. The complex opened in 2016, and so far 70% of lots have sold. "When Mr Wang offered me a good price, I didn't hesitate," he says.
With red lanterns swaying over its entrance, the palm-tree peppered compound of 13 towers could easily be in Shenzhen, Chongqing or the suburbs of Shanghai. It's the sort of Chinese-ification that permeates much of Addis.
Cars chug through the city on smooth Chinese roads
, Chinese cranes
lift the skyline, sewing machines
hum in Chinese factories in Chinese-owned industrial parks, tourists arrive at the Chinese-upgraded airport
and commuters ride modern Chinese trains to work
Simply put, Addis Ababa is becoming the city that China built -- but at what diplomatic and economic cost?
A city without addresses
Located 2,355 meters above sea level, Addis Ababa is one of the highest capitals in the world. Officials say 2.7 million people call it home, but that's based on a census from 2007
. The real number is surely far bigger. Few buildings here have addresses, so taxi drivers operate by landmarks. And because Ethiopia was never colonized, barring a brief Italian occupation between 1936 and 1941
, Addis lacks the European infrastructure that underpins many African metropolises. "It was never planned to be a city," says Alexandra Thorer, an architect who lived in Addis as a child, and wrote her thesis on the city's urbanization.