Corporate real estate, retail investment, REITs in focus as WAPI summit berths in Nigeria
by CHUKA UROKO
November 21, 2017 | 1:35 am| | | Start Conversation
When investors, developers, corporate and retail tenants, service providers, government representatives, financiers, and mortgage providers gather for the West African Property Investment (WAPI) Summit in Lagos later this month, corporate real estate and retail investment will be at the centre of discussion.
WAPI, an initiative of African Property Investment (API) in South Africa, is holding for the first time in Nigeria in three years and will also be focusing on the capital market to see how more local capital can come into real estate from the capital market. This will be leading to discussion on real estate investment trusts (REITs); how pension fund can get into real estate and also how insurance companies can invest in real estate.
According to the organizers and sponsors of the summit, discussion on corporate real estate services which is all about providing strategic advice to large and multinational companies, and large/corporate Nigerian clients, has become critical because of the nature of modern day corporate clients.
“We see that for the corporates, real estate represents the largest cost they make. So, getting their real estate strategy right is actually key in the success of their business. Most people spend more than 50 percent of their day in their work-place and so, having the right environment and amenities can improve the productivity of their staff. That is the kind of service we can provide and we will be talking about that at the summit”, explained Bolaji Edu, Broll Nigeria’s CEO, in an interview.
Broll Nigeria, a subsidiary of Broll Property Group in South Africa, will be playing a leading role at the summit as a major sponsor. Gavin Cox, the company’ Head of Retail Management and Leasing in Nigeria, will be speaking on retail investment on the basis of shopping mall versus high-street retail.
“Compared to other countries, Nigeria has not developed much of high street retail. We will be discussing that to point out the benefits of retailers having presence in malls and also on the high street. You cannot put up a mall in every sub-market, but you can do so with high street retail”, Edu said.
He explained that the summit was an opportunity for all stakeholders in the market to come together and discuss the various issues in the real estate industry, more so as all the service providers, developers, financiers, advisers and all the stakeholders from South Africa, the rest of West Africa, Europe, Middle East and all over the world will be participating.
Nigeria is now at a turning point having just come out of a recession and the summit will be looking at the country’s real estate market in the next 10 years in terms of professionalism, transparency and the date available. It is hoped that all these are going to be a lot better than they were in the past 10 years. WAPI wants to be the premier platform for everyone to come together and discuss this.
In spite of the challenges Nigeria’s economy is passing through at the moment, the country remains an investment destination because of the opportunities it can offer. Edu pointed out that the stock of retail malls and commercial offices per GDP and even per capita in Nigeria is below what obtains in other countries. So, investors are still looking at retail and offices and how to have diverse portfolio.
“If you look at these diverse portfolio in those two sectors, you see that an investor can still invest in prime, Grade A office space that can attract multi-nationals. Investment can also be made in good, strong and quality Grade B office buildings which focus on the local market”, he said.
Nigeria is viewed as one of the fastest growing countries in the world by virtue of its population. It is projected that the country will grow from 180 million people at the moment to 400 million by 2050. So, the current housing deficit estimated at 17 million will be close to 40 million by 2050. Most of that deficit is going to come from medium to affordable housing. Investors are looking to come into that market.
Against that backdrop, at the WAPI summit, there will be a session that will be focusing on residential market. That session will be looking at key stakeholders including developers on the supply side and the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) on the housing finance side. Authorities of these companies will be available to discuss that.
Edu hinted that Broll, which has been the platinum sponsor of this summit since its inception in 2015, has always been keen to improve professionalism in the real estate industry, share best practice to their clients and to improve transparency as well.
“The best way for that to happen is for all the stakeholders to come together and discuss. This is why Broll is passionate about WAPI and happy to be the Platinum sponsor. We think this will be a great opportunity to bring people together and share ideas”, he said.
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