Mwiya Musokotwane on Nkwashi and The Future of an Intercontinental Africa
Nkwashi is a private charter city that is currently being built in Zambia to house around 100,000 residents on completion. Our guest on the show today is Mwiya Musokotwane, the co-founder and CEO of Thebe Investment Management, a Zambian private investment firm that is the developer of Nkwashi. He is here to talk about this project and the challenges and aspirations involved specifically, as well as those more broadly positioned in an African context. We look at questions of what it means to create a private city, getting an economy started and the key factors that need to be addressed for Africa's economic future. Mwiya gives us some insight into the timeline of building Nkwashi and why building a charter city takes longer in developing economies. We discuss financing and the ways that the project has been laid out to pay for itself over the next ten or so years. The conversation also covers skills development, talent attraction and culture building and we look at how cities and companies both do this as well as the clear differences. Mwiya makes a strong argument for the role of institutions and networks in establishing the overarching culture of a city, something that he has very certain aspirations about for Nkwashi. The conversation also covers the focus on technology as Nkwashi's main industry and attraction, and we unpack the mercantile model that is planned. Listeners can look forward to hearing about a future city, some great perspectives on African economies and the challenges that face a project of this size. Mwiya also explains what he admires about Singapore and the lessons he has learned from their example, so tune in to hear all this and more!
Key Points From This Episode:
• An introduction to Nkwashi, a private city and satellite to Lusaka.
• The basics and timeline of building a satellite city in Africa.
• The housing and service deficit in Zambia and how Nkwashi offsets this.
• Financing a costly venture of this type; commercial sales and payment plans for units.
• Mwiya’s background in research and economics and how these skills inform his current work.
• A preferable model for talent attraction and development: training from a junior level.
• The construction of Nkwashi and the division of labor between internal and external sources.
• Comparing the development of a culture within a team and a city.
• The values that Mwiya wants to promote in Nkwashi, dynamism, openness and more!
• The central role of institutions and networks in growing a city's culture.
• Reasons to focus on technology as the anchoring tenet in Nkwashi; wage arbitrage and the global economy.
• Benefits of mercantilism and placing Nkwashi within the context of the larger Zambian economy.
• Interfacing with the Zambian government; what Nkwashi's relationship will look like.
• Why Augustus would build a good charter city!
• The evolution of Mwiya's philosophy towards city development and urban planning.
• Mwiya's appreciation for Singapore and the points that impress him most.
• The constraints of capital and talent access in Zambia and Africa.
• Challenges specific to Africa and the dangers of special economic zones.
• A critique of Silicon Valley's city-building project; positives and negatives.
• The projected growth of urban populations in Africa and the potential impacts of this.
• Mwiya's thoughts on getting African countries to a state of 7% GDP growth.
• Chinese involvement in Africa and the infrastructure that is being built.
• Mwiya's work schedule and the different modes he works in throughout the week.