Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Carlton Centre, the shame of Africa?

The Carlton Centre - a 50-floors, 223 meters tall skyscraper in the CBD area of Johannesburg - is considered as an object of pride in South Africa. I remember a cheerful man who emphatically uttered "Top of Africa!" at us, as we were about to enter the skyscraper last November. For good reason, as this is the tallest building in whole of the continent of Africa.

Some of the photos I clicked on 7-Nov-09. More here, here, and here

I, however, am of a different opinion, especially after having seen both Dubai and Cairo last December. Buildings (much) taller than the Carlton Centre are commonplace in Dubai - a tiny emirate of UAE. And here we are talking of a large continent with 53 countries, with an area ~7,400 times the area of Dubai (the emirate). The grimness of the situation becomes more clear when one realizes that the Cairo Tower - a mere 187 meter tall tower in Cairo - counts among the tallest structures in Africa, and that the Carlton Centre doesn't count among the 100 tallest buildings in the world.

I would rather call Carlton Centre the shame of Africa, or a reminder for Africa - an engineering and symbolic achievement for sure, but a stark reminder of what all still needs to be done. African people should be proud of it, but whenever they look at this skyscraper, they should also remind themselves that their billion-strong continent has just one of these megastructures...

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