Africa’s growth cities attract increased foreign real estate investment

An increased numbers of international investors are investigating opportunities in African real estate markets, attracted by the continent’s startling economic and demographic growth prospects, it is claimed.

According to a new Africa Report 2015 from international real estate firm Knight Frank, the population of Africa will quadruple to over four billion by 2100, with nearly one billion of these people in Nigeria alone.

It argues that could be the single most important demographic trend that will shape the world over the course of this century and by 2100 nearly 40% of the world’s population will live in Africa, with the large majority of these being in the continent’s fast growing cities.

Nigeria is now the largest economy in Africa with GDP estimated at $594.3 billion, followed by South Africa at $341.2 billion and overall Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world’s most rapidly developing economic regions, and it is projected that 13 of 20 fastest growing global economies over the next five years will be in Africa.

According to the report Luanda in Angola has one of the highest prime office rents in the world at US$150 per square meter per month, driven by demand from the oil and gas sector, and an extreme lack of availability.

Luanda’s population is forecast to increase by more than 70% from 2010 to 2025 period, while Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Lusaka are expected to double. ‘Allied to strong economic growth, this is creating increased demand for good quality real estate of all types,’ the report says.

It also points out that the retail sector has seen a huge increase in activity as a result of the rise of the urban middle class and the expansion of South African retailers such as Shoprite and Pick n Pay into the rest of Africa. Modern shopping malls are a relatively new concept in much of Africa, but a spate of new malls has been developed in key cities such as Accra and Nairobi.
‘The growth of Africa’s cities and economies will do much to define the global socio-economic landscape over the coming decades,’ said Matthew Colbourne, Knight Frank international research associate.

‘These major long term trends are driving the construction of high quality real estate across the continent. The most visible demonstration of this is the rise of the modern shopping centre concept in cities such as Nairobi, Lagos and Accra, but there are development opportunities in all property sectors,’ he explained.

‘Large volumes of good quality commercial and residential property are needed to support the continuing African growth story, presenting excellent opportunities for global funds looking to diversify or enter into African markets,’ he added.
The report also points out that Africa’s growth potential has led to a notable increase in activity involving overseas investors and South African funds over the last two years. For example, Chinese investors’ involvement in large scale development and infrastructure projects across Africa has been particularly eye-catching.

However, the Knight Frank report also identifies nine South African based funds that have raised significant volumes of capital to invest in real estate projects across the Sub-Saharan region. These investors will develop a wave of modern investable assets that will do much to improve the size and maturity of African property investment markets over the next few years.

‘We have seen rising interest in Africa from an increasingly diverse range of international investors, developers and occupiers in recent years. The inflow of investment from China into Africa has been well publicised, but there is also growing activity involving investors from elsewhere, including the rest of Asia and the Middle East,’ said Peter Welborn, head of Africa at Knight Frank.

‘Meanwhile, an increasingly significant flow of capital has emerged from South Africa into other African markets. While many African countries remain challenging places in which to do business, there are high growth opportunities across Africa for those able to those able to navigate their way through the markets,’ he added.