Africa’s real estate sector, which has traditionally lagged behind other more mature markets, is catching the attention of participants at leading global real estate events. PwC, in its report, Real Estate: Building the future of Africa, estimates there is a shortfall of 17 million housing units in Nigeria alone, with a funding requirement of US$363 billion. Among major attractions on the continent are projects such as new high rise hotels and office buildings, residential homes and apartments, as well as the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos State.
The key global real estate events held this year so far are Expo Real in Munich, Germany and Property Invest in the United Kingdom. For the first time ever, a delegation from sub-Saharan Africa participated in this year’s edition of Expo Real. Also, Eko Atlantic City, alongside other major operators in Nigeria’s real estate sector, participated actively in Property Invest, which took place October 9-10, 2015.
An indication of this new focus on Africa was the high interest in growth opportunities available on the continent that piqued the interest of investors at the 2015 Real Estate Unite Conference held in Lagos. Rapid urbanization of Africa’s population and new technologies driving changes in lifestyle will combine to alter the population pattern in many African countries, experts say.
These factors will lead to the creation of new cities that will be a place to live and work for the majority of the world’s population, including Africa, says Mark Bradford, chairman, JLL’s Sub-Saharan Africa business, a financial and professional services firm specializing in commercial real estate services and investment management. The trend globally is to build efficient and flexible cities because the rate of urbanization is not going to slow down. “What we do now and going forward needs to be well thought out. Building a city that can accommodate change is about the infrastructure that is put in the city to make it work. For instance, if you are lucky enough to live and work in Eko Atlantic City, traffic in Lagos will not be a problem,” he said.
Eko Atlantic City has participated in a number of these on-going real estate events globally and locally, showcasing its mega city project. Mr. Ronald Chagoury Jr, Vice Chairman, South Energyx Nigeria Limited (developers of Eko Atlantic City), at a plenary at the Real Estate Unite event, highlighted some of the unique features of the new city. One of the most significant features of the Eko Atlantic City, he says, is the Great Wall that protects the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island and Lekki Phase 1 from the devastating surges of the Atlantic Ocean. The Great Wall is designed to withstand the most severe tidal surges forecast over the next 1,000 years.
Opportunities in novel projects such as the Eko Atlantic City and others across Africa will deepen investment opportunities in the real estate sector of the continent.