Real estate to continue driving Africa’s growth

DEMAND for high quality office and residential accommodation have the potential to mitigate impacts of lower commodity prices being experienced by African countries such as Zambia, Standard Bank head of real estate finance Gerhard Zeelie has said.
Mr Zeelie said a growing consumer middle-class powered by rapid urbanisation and shifting demographic trends is driving both property demand and growth opportunities in the real estate industry across Africa.
Standard Bank, which trades as Stanbic Zambia, through its mortgage lending, has financed shopping malls such as Manda Hill, Arcades and East Park in Lusaka.
On the Copperbelt, Stanbic financed Jacaranda and Kafubu malls in Ndola and Kitwe’s Mukuba mall.
Mr Zeelie said supply has continued to be outstripped by demand for high-quality retail, office and residential space in Africa.
“International and local developers are looking to increase their exposure across markets in Africa and for opportunities to establish a strong retail foothold in cities where little or no formal retail existed,” Mr Zeelie said.
He said economic growth and ongoing investments in infrastructure are opening up previously inaccessible markets.
“Some of the key African countries that are realising opportunities for real estate investment include Nigeria,
Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia. Although lower commodity prices haves impacted on growth forecasts for some of these countries, real estate can continue to drive growth potential,” Mr Zeelie said.
He, however, said real estate investments in African markets are not without risk and advised investors to take a long-term view on a market’s macro-economic outlook, rather than viewing short-term cyclical shocks in isolation.
“Some of the risks are unpredictable regulatory changes, complex legal regimes, volatile local currencies, and limitations on investment timeframes and exit strategies,” he said.
He suggests that investing in Africa is by no means a one-size approach since each market has its own specific dynamics and opportunities.
“Investors often make the mistake of regarding Africa as a uniform landscape but, it is critical to identify the countries and sectors that offer the best opportunities and match them with their own expertise,” Mr Zeelie said.

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