Real Estate

RIS UK: Narratives that changed perceptions, inspired investors confidence in economy

by CHUKA UROKO

October 24, 2017 | 1:40 am
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When Fine & Country West Africa, in collaboration with BusinessDay, decided to hold this year’s edition of the Refined Investor Series (RIS) in the UK, the aim was basically to present the best of Nigerian real estate to potential Nigerian Diaspora and international investors.

Already in its 6th edition, RIS is part of Fine & Country’s functions as a real estate marketing and advisory firm. The series became necessary because, from market experience, the company realized that a lot of people, for lack of information, fail to grab opportunities within their neighbourhood.

The series, which provides answers to who, where, when, what and why (5Ws) investments are made, is targeted at savvy investors, economic influencers, industry leaders, developers, and stakeholders who are interested in exploring, understanding and unlocking the opportunities that abound in this market.

But in all of this, many Diaspora Nigerian and international investors are left out because of certain myths and misconceptions about the real estate market in particular, and poor perception and understanding of the economy, its great potential and the huge opportunities it offers.

Before now, some of these Nigerians abroad thought Nigeria had nothing to offer them; they were scared of the perceived ‘fraudulent’ activities in the real estate investment market and the domestic economy and those were because they lacked basic, vital information and did not ask the right questions from the right people.

Unknown to them, the economy holds out hope and future bright enough for savvy investors to start taking position. “Though the economy is in the early stages of recovery from recession, available data shows that the it is in for good time and on sure growth path”, Frank Aigbogun, Publisher/CEO, BusinessDay, told the star-studded Diaspora Nigerian investors that attended RIS in London.

Due to the peace in the Niger Delta, Aigbogun explained, “oil production is at the OPEC limit of 1.8mbd for the first time in many years and you can add to that an additional 400,000 barrels daily in condensate;  data prepared by BusinessDay shows that Nigeria oil revenues reached $2.87bn in September this year and this should rise to just over $3bn for October”.

So much is now happening in the economy enough to encourage private capital inflow. The economy has seen both manufacturing and the real sector on the path of growth again. Expectedly, the property market is beginning to look up again. “In particular, Lagos which should rank among the top five economies in Africa by GDP, is ramping its infrastructure roll out at a faster pace and all of this is helping to prepare it for the property boom which should follow”, he said, telling the Diaspora investors that this is the time to take position in the economy.

Lagos, according to Ronald Chagoury, vice chairman, South Energyx Nigeria Limited,  is an investment destination not only in Nigeria, but also in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fundamentals are not only strong, but also compelling. “Lagos has the largest population in Nigeria with over 20million people; it is the country’s largest economy and the 5th  in Africa; it is Nigeria’s commercial, financial and industrial centre”, said Chagoury in his presentation at the London event.

Regarded as one of the fastest growing cities in the world, Lagos accounts for 40 percent of Nigeria’s real estate activity, and this is where South Energyx is developing the Eko Atlantic City—a mega private development stretching 10 million square meter of land reclaimed from the ocean.

Chagoury told the Diaspora investors that the city, located adjacent to Victoria Island,  offers both investment and residential opportunities. It is financial, commercial, and residential free zone that will be home to 300,000 residents with 200,000 commuting to the city on daily basis.

“The city’s world class infrastructure boasts 70MW of electricity expandable to 1.5GW power plant; 10,000 potable water per day expandable to 100,000 cubic metre”, he said, adding, “this is a smart city planning working in line with city wide fibre optic network; it has state-of-the-art sewage facility and an extensive underground storm water drainage”

He assured the investors of opportunities in the city  as private developers or service providers, revealing that the city is planning a  major mall with 108,000 square metres net leasable area; there will be provision for 5,000 car parking facility; high quality retail layout for great shopping experience,  and vast amenities for entertainment including food courts, cinema, playground, etc.

“There are other pockets of opportunities for those wishing to invest in real estate back home and there is quite a good number of them on offer”, Udo Okonjo, Vice Chair/CEO, Fine and Country,  told the gathering , stressing that Nigeria’s population, potential and location make it an investment destination that could not be ignored.

“Nigeria matters because of its location and, most importantly, its people”, she said, explaining that RIS held in London this year because they believed that  Nigeria needs all of its missing parts and these are the Nigerians in Diaspora, including entrepreneurs, professionals, etc blazing the trail all over the world.

Though there challenges for investors in the up-market locations in the country, David Mbah, Consultant, Sales (Commercial), at Fine and Country, revealed in his presentation that the low to mid-market locations remained strong, just as well priced and well finished products were still on demand even in the highbrow neighhourhoods.

According to him, the high vacancy rate in the up-market presents an opp ortunity for investors to either become more creative with their offerings or shift focus to the mid-level market, adding that there are three major factors to consider when re-focusing to the mid-market. These are location, price and size.

“Any investor that buys any of these ‘re-engineered’ developments is sure to enjoy high return on investment, and shorter pay-back period. This is due to the low capital and entry cost required”, he said, adding, “other opportunities for investors include buying plots of land in emerging locations with high return on investment on the outskirts of Lagos such as  Lekki free trade zone, Ibeju-Lekki, Langbasa, Ikorodu, among others”.

These were, indeed, great narratives and their impact was instantaneous. “Having attended the event, I was extremely impressed and convinced that investing in my homeland is the way to go; indeed Nigeria was showcased; Well done to Udo Okonjo and your exceptional team and sponsor’s for making us proud”, said Patricia Macpepple-jaja, one of the participants.

K.B. Davies, another participant agrees, saying, “it was a great event and awesome networking opportunity; it was inspiring to see the investment and business opportunities available in Nigeria, and meeting those at the forefront blazing the trail.  More so, the Eko Atlantic project is truly mind blowing. I foresee Lagos being the Dubai of Africa in as short as 20 years time; as was made evident on the night, and for anyone still in doubt, opportunity beckons and great success awaits; it is now time for us to go home”.

CHUKA UROKO


by CHUKA UROKO

October 24, 2017 | 1:40 am
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