The City Of Boughzoul – Algerian Model Low-Carbon City

Writtn by Moshe Terdiman

On December 7, 2010, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the leading public environment fund dedicated to developing countries, unveiled a groundbreaking project in the planned city of Boughzoul in Algeria that will be built with an innovative clean energy focus designed to integrate climate change responses into urban development plans.[1]

The aim of the new city Boughzoul is not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to use that model for all future city developments in Algeria. Boughzoul aims to be a low-carbon city that doesn’t contribute to overall greenhouse gas emissions. In order to achieve these aims, the GEF, together with the UNEP, are going to invest $8.2 million, with another $22 million added from other sources to help introduce best practices on renewable energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency during the construction of the city. These will include the construction of zero-carbon buildings, streetlights using LED and photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, and a Center of Excellence for Technology Transfer. When construction of Boughzoul is completed, the cumulative net greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 3.4 million tons. When completed, Boughzoul will be an administrative and business center with a population of over 400,000 and its own airport.[2]

Apparently, Boughzoul was chosen as the site for the Algerian model low-carbon city because of its strategic location. It is located 200 km inland south of the capital city of Algiers, and it is linking northern Algeria to southern Algeria. It is also considered as a passageway to the eastern and western parts of the country. Moreover, already integrated inside the city are construction, agriculture, industry, and renewable energy projects, what makes it a suitable city to serve as the alternative economic capital of the country instead of Algiers. In addition, already in the 1970s, Houari Boumédienne, the then Algerian President (1965 – 1978), announced his wish to make Boughzoul the capital of Algeria instead of Algiers, but nothing has come out of it.[3] 

The construction of the new city Boughzoul is part of the Algerian government’s attempt to confront the challenge of urbanization while being aware of the need to build cities with the smallest energy and emissions footprints possible. Indeed, according to the CIA World Factbook, in 2010, the urban population in Algeria constituted 66% of a total population of 34,994,937 inhabitants and the rate of urbanization was 2.3%.[4]

It should be mentioned that Boughzoul is not the only initiative aimed at developing low-carbon cities in the Arab world. The first initiative is Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates. This project was initiated in 2006 and its first phase will be habitable by 2015. It is also a home to Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which was opened in 2009 and focuses on research on clean energy.    

The Algerian government not only hopes that other new cities in Algeria will follow Boughzoul’s footsteps to low-carbon development but also that other countries throughout the developing world, and especially in Africa, will adopt this model.


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