For many African countries, a change of country name was part of the whole process of gaining complete independence from their colonisers. Countries such as Ghana, Tanzania, Burundi went through a renaming right after they gained independence.
Whiles many countries went through the name changing process, a few countries went through changing and relocation of their capital cities. Many countries already had capital cities that were industrial and had all the seats of government in one central place.
The cost of relocating, planning and rebuilding a capital city could also cost millions. Here are the African countries that decided to take new capital cities regardless of all the challenges.
Dodoma – Tanzania
After gaining independence in 1961, the Tanzanian government invited a Canadian firm to help replan the then capital Dar Es Salaam, but the plan did not succeed and was cancelled in 1972. Dodoma was a small market town initially established in 1903 by the Dutch. The government chose Dodoma town to be developed as the capital city due to its location in the centre of the country. It also provided an area viable for development. The estimated amount to recreate a capital city was £186 million ($244 million) and was supposed to be completed in 10 years, but to date, the city is still being constructed. In 2016, the current president John Magufuli announced that the government would be operating from the new capital before he leaves office in 2020 to mark the finalisation of the move.
Abuja – Nigeria
On December 12, 1991, Abuja became the capital of Nigeria 32 years after its independence in 1960. The first capital of Nigeria was Lagos, but the city soon became too congested and was facing multiple problems due to its rapid development. In the 1960s, the plan was then made to construct a new capital city for the country in the inner parts of the country that could deal with development over the years. In 1976, General Murtala Mohammed announced the final decision to move the capital city to Lagos. Construction of the new city started in the late 70s and was completed in the late 80s. The city was inspired by the plan used to construct Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.
Gaborone – Botswana
The rebuilding of Gaborone into a proper city began in the 1960s and was completed within three years. Shortly after independence in 1966, the new planned city was officially made the capital city. The town was chosen as the new capital city because it has no major tribal affiliation. The town was established in 1888 and named after its founder Kgosi Gaborone who ruled over the Batlokwa people, but the town was destroyed after suffering from the apartheid in South Africa. It is now noted as one of the most beautiful and well-planned cities of Africa
In 1975, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda named Lilongwe as the new Capital City of Malawi 11 years after it gained independence in 1964. Lilongwe existed as one of the oldest settlements in Malawi. The British colonial government made it their administrative centre, and it was officially recognised as a town in 1947. The last government offices were formally moved to Lilongwe in 2005 which marked the end of the move from Zomba.
Yamoussoukro- Ivory Coast
At the time of independence in 1960, Abidjan was the capital city. The city thrived and developed fast until President Felix Houphouet-Biogny announced his plans to build and establish a new capital city. The city was built in the birthplace of the president and officially made the Capital City 1983.