Johannesburg – China’s Shanghai Zendai Property plans to break ground next year on an $8bn new city development near Johannesburg, its chair said on Wednesday.

The 1 600 hectare “Modderfontein New City” will include offices, a light industry park, housing for 100 000 people, schools and entertainment centres and is expected to take at least 15 years to complete.

The R84bn development will see R3bn in infrastructure spending in the next three years.

Initial construction will focus on schools and houses, Shanghai Zendai chair Zhikang Dai told a news conference in Johannesburg.

The development will be 7km from Sandton and 8km from O.R. Tambo International Airport’s. It is also near Alexandra.

The project is described as an international residential community and may attract some of the estimated 300 000 Chinese nationals in South Africa.

However, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said she hoped local residents would benefit from both jobs and housing.

Shanghai Zendai last year agreed to pay SA commercial explosives firm AECI around R1bn for the land.

While Chinese companies have been building roads and infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa for years, Shanghai Zendai’s project will be among the largest real estate deals by a Chinese firm in SA.