Planning animal-shaped communities

The government of Southern Sudan has plans to create new cities in the shape of animals. The picture at the top of the news story of a city planned in the shape of a rhino is fascinating.

But there are some problems with this plan:

The $10.1 billion multi-decade project to re-create Southern Sudan’s 10 state capitals into elaborately-shaped dream towns may sound Dubai-esque — only Southern Sudan is no Dubai.

Actually, it is one of the poorest places on earth.

The undeveloped region — which lacks any paved roads outside its three main cities — is part of Africa’s largest nation, Sudan, which is ruled by the Khartoum government South Sudanese fought against for most of the past half century in two long civil wars.

But Southern Sudan expects to achieve independence next year through a January secession referendum promised in a 2005 peace deal that granted the war-torn region self-rule until the vote.

Even without the unique city designs, the multi-billion dollar price tag alone was sure to turn heads. Southern Sudan’s total budget for 2010 is less than $2 billion, 98 percent of which comes from the oil revenues it hopes will fund its postwar re-construction.

If Dubai can construct islands in the shape of palms, can a currently non-existent government build cities in the shape of giraffes? It sounds like there are a lot of hurdles to clear before these development plans become reality.