The Guardian, March 23th, 2015,
By: Tunde Alao
INVESTMENT opportunities abound in the real estate sector of the sub-Sahara Africa (SSA), but it will take concerted collaboration among professionals in the built environment to unearth, realtors have said.
Many of the speakers at the just concluded International Real Estate Show for Professionals, known in France as Le marche international des professionnels de l’immobilier (MIPIM), said in spite of several challenges plaguing the region, there are myriad of opportunities in the real estate sector.
Identified as hot spots for real estate investment are Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, but of concern to the professionals were issues resolving around boundaries’ limitations.
But, a panel moderator, Mr. Akin Olawore, Principal Partner, Akin Olawore and Company, said that there should be no boundaries between these regions if the business will take place in a more general term.
The experts harped on the potentials of the Sub-Saharan real estate market and recognized the need for synergy among professionals to tap into the existing opportunities. MIPIM showcased very large investments that can be done successfully in Africa.
It was stated that the costs of products, high returns and environmental conditions were just a few of the specific focus of the panel and were concluded by considering more concrete acts to solve its generic problems.
RICS’ President, Louise Brooke-Smith spoke more about the collaborative approach towards influencing professional standards in the SSA National professional bodies.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert. Politically, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara (excluding Sudan, even though Sudan sits in the Eastern portion of the Sahara desert) with growing middle class – about 34percent more than a decade before. This is according to African Economic Outlook.
Besides, it was stated that increasing level of domestic consumption rose from $1.15tr in 2012 to US$1.4tr in 2014, according to Africa Ascendant Report 2014.
According to RICS’ boss, one of such investments is embedded in the on-going Eko-Atlantic City project in Lagos.
“For a lot of people that were here today it was pretty eye opening to see the scale and ambition of the project and I think that Eko Atlantic should almost become a marketing tool for the potential of real estate in the country because it is such an outstanding example, said Mark Bradford, Chairman of JLL for Sub-Saharan Africa, who described the project as the “pinnacle reality of ambition on the continent and definitely something that more people should get to learn about”.
Eko Atlantic’s developers say that 90 per cent of the infrastructure, will be completed by the end of 2015.
Speaking to a well-attended workshop session addressing real estate development in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ronald Chagoury Jr. the Vice Chairman of South Energyx Nigeria Limited, the promoters of Eko Atlantic, said it was now time for international companies to take a much closer look at investment potential in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria.
According to Chagoury, if one can just get over some of the perception issues for Nigeria and look at the market as it actually is, one will automatically have an advantage over everyone else. “Nigeria is now the continent’s largest economy and has a rapidly growing population. We have a need for everything. The key ingredients for success are being present, consistency and quality”, he said.
In his presentation titled: “Sub-Saharan Africa – Let There Be Light”, Chagoury explained that the real-estate sector was desperately short of housing, stating that there is a shortage of 16 million homes in Nigeria with a shortfall of five million homes in Lagos alone.
It was stated at the workshop that Eko Atlantic would cover a total ten million square metres of land reclaimed from the sea that will become home to 250,000 residents with 150,000 commuters.
The workshop was designed as an interactive ‘How to’ toolkit for anyone looking at the region: investors, developers, brokers, consultants, service firms and hotel and tourism operators.
Also, Mr. John Okonkwo, the Managing Director of Projects Ducain Forbes Ltd., while extolling the initiative behind the project said, it was one of the few times he has seen people focused on the positives of Sub-Saharan African other than all the normal issues of conflict, corruption and fraud, who observed that there is no doubt that the international momentum now is in Africa’s favour’. ‘
“Eko Atlantic is in part showcasing what is possible in Africa. It showcases that very large ticket investments can be done successfully at an international quality standard in Africa’, said Okonkwo.