We met with Mr. Stéphane Poupinel, Managing Director of the real estate division of Medine Ltd. He tells us about the Uniciti project, an intelligent city of 823 acres, a true “Knowledge Hub” that is developing around the knowledge economy.
Education at the heart of the Uniciti project
If all Smart Cities in Mauritius are mainly oriented around the motto “Live, Work, Play”, Uniciti adds the notion of learning. “Live, Work, Enjoy & Learn” are the four components that sum up the Medine group’s Smart City. The latter will eventually extend between Bambous, Cascavelle and Flic en Flac.
Among its existing or ongoing projects, Uniciti has a residential offer, a business park, recreational facilities, including a large-scale sports complex with an Olympic swimming pool, tennis courts, football, basketball and rugby pitches, a medical centre, a clubhouse as well as a cultural and artistic centre, a place of conviviality to encourage meetings and exchanges. All these facilities form a visionary approach to Medine. By creating the Uniciti Education Hub, the group is giving a driving force to the development of the city by investing in the knowledge economy, in order to boost the Mauritian economy.
“Higher education means research and that includes an international, dynamic and innovative ecosystem. This will be a real plus for the companies that choose Uniciti. They will be closer to innovation in the fields of the future,” explains Stéphane Poupinel.
This strategic orientation of Medine towards education and more particularly higher education started as early as 2012 by welcoming several well-known institutions: VATEL, SUPINFO, and since 2015, the ICSIA project. The International Campus for Sustainable and Innovative Africa brings together prestigious French schools and universities such as ESSEC, ESCP Europe, the University Panthéon-Assas Paris II for law, the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture (ENSA) de Nantes. The Uniciti Education hub also includes a branch campus of Middlesex University. The world-famous English institution opened a branch in Uniciti in September, occupying an area of 2.5 hectares.
All the 1700 students currently enrolled in the Uniciti Education hub benefit from services and infrastructures such as student accommodation. 130 students are already taking advantage of this service out of the 144 beds in the residences. There is also a state-of-the-art sports centre and a university restaurant.
The prestigious international institutions that make up Uniciti offer a choice of courses. Thus, the faculties of law, engineering and architecture installed since 2015 within ICSIA will soon be joined by schools of medicine, business, gastronomy and translation-interpreting.
The Medine Group’s ambition is to reach the 5,000-student mark, 75% of whom are foreigners, mainly Africans, and 25% Mauritians by 2025 for higher education alone.
A Smart City that respects the environment and promotes social diversity
This large-scale educational project relies on the local and international expertise of architects, town planners and landscape architects to develop the various areas in an environmentally friendly manner. 26 km of bicycle and pedestrian paths will soon criss-cross Uniciti, allowing everyone to enjoy a 15-hectare green lung. The entire city will be equipped with an ecological system of rainwater evacuation through natural drains (Sustainable Urban Drainage System). The city has been planned in terms of ecological corridors and the buildings have been designed according to a “Green by design” strategy, respecting the natural parameters so that the constructions are economical.
“Technology is put at the service of people, not the other way around. New technologies are used as a means to make the city greener and to promote social ties “says Stéphane Poupinel.
At the heart of the project remains a desire for social diversity. The residential offer will provide a range of housing solutions to suit all budgets, including middle class housing. Through its cultural and artistic centre and all the other components annexed, the city will promote a true culture of living together with several communities, including a population of students from all parts of Africa and the world.
Medine has started a fundraising exercise with local and international companies for the sponsorship of students from disadvantaged backgrounds from Mauritius and all over Africa. The group has sponsored some 20 students in this program.
One ambition: to attract Mauritian and international excellence
The project includes universities of excellence from different countries around the world, with the ambition of becoming a true “Education Hub for Africa” and Medine does not intend to stop there.
With real estate investments estimated at Rs 35 billion over time, the group is fully confident that such a project will help boost the Mauritian economy and encourage the establishment of various local and foreign companies.
“In addition to a Business Park that companies can use to create office space adapted to their needs, the directors of these companies will have a whole range of solutions for their personal well-being and that of their families, including an educational offer for their children, leisure and sports areas and various residential offers. In addition, everyone will be able to move around Uniciti in complete safety and in an idyllic setting”, adds Stéphane Poupinel.
Moreover, the project is “Smart” from conception to execution, and wishes to be and remain “demand-driven” to adapt to the needs of its future 30,000 inhabitants.
A city built little by little
Uniciti is no longer a dream, but a reality with Cascavelle Shopping Village, a Business Park, a school hub, a nursery, primary and secondary schools. Let us not forget the 1700 students who already benefit from the offer of tertiary institutions.
A large-scale project in full swing, Uniciti has already made a name for itself by enabling the Board of Investment (BOI) of Mauritius to win theUnited Nations Awards for Promoting Investment in the Sustainable Development Goals. The organization selected Uniciti to represent Mauritius at UNCTAD’s Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission held in Geneva on November 20. Thanks to this award, Mauritius is rightfully on the world map of sustainable development!