Thursday, September 26, 2013

Actis $1.5bn investment in Nigeria, others’ property market targets middle class

Actis, a private equity company, will lead investment of as much as $1.5 billion in African commercial property to meet rising demand from international companies targeting a growing middle class, its officials have revealed.

The London-based company has a five-year plan to invest in projects including shopping centers, office towers and industrial parks in fast-growing economies such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
Kevin Teeroovengadum, director of Actis’ sub-Saharan Africa real estate unit, revealed recently in an interview in Johannesburg that the company is seeing a shift in interest from South African brands to European retailers.

Michael Chu’di Ejekam, Teeroovengadum’s counterpart in Nigeria, had noted in Lagos that African market is “huge, under-supplied and growing”, adding that there is a sharp demand-supply imbalance which they are trying to bridge.
“This is sub-Saharan Africa and in comparison with some other markets, it is one of the fastest growing in the entire world. Africa dominates the list of the fastest growing economies in the world”, Ejekam, who spoke in an interview with BusinessDay, said.
African Development Bank’s annual outlook also notes that Africa’s economy, excluding Libya and Somalia, is forecast to expand 4.5 percent in 2013 and 5.2 percent next year amid a rise in oil and mining projects and direct investment from foreign companies.
Teeroovengadum points out that Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, grew 6.6 percent in the first quarter while South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, expanded by an annualised 0.9 percent.
Actis has raised about $1.4 billion across seven Africa funds since 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company is also pursuing deals in South America and Southeast Asia in sectors including energy and technology.

McKinsey & Co. says in a 2010 report that Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, predicting that household expenditure in the continent is forecast to expand 63 percent to $1.4 trillion by 2020. Shantayanan Devarajan, World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, said in May last year that “this is a very good time for retailers to get a foothold in Africa.”
In Nigeria, Ejekam notes that within 8-kilometre radius of Ikeja City Mall in Lagos, household expenditure is about $18,000 per annum per household, adding that with about one million households within this radius, household expenditure per annum is about $18 billion. “For us as private equity investors, we find this very compelling”, he said.

This is the number of jobs the Federal Government is proposing to create on a yearly basis.
The Information Minister, Labran Maku said it is part of a deliberate policy to expand the Nigerian economy.
With an average official rate of unemployment put at about 18 million adults or about 23 percent of the adult population, it would take the Federal Government an average of 49 years to absorb all the unemployed even if the unemployment rate remains unchanged.
What this clearly shows is that the creation of jobs will have to go beyond what the Federal Government can do directly to enable the private sector also create jobs.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NDFF 2013 to Profile Nigerian Real Estate and Housing Finance sector as investment frontier

The 4th Nigeria Development and Finance Forum (NDFF) 2013 North America Conference will showcase the Nigerian Real Estate and Housing Finance sector as an important frontier of investment opportunities in Nigeria.

One of Nigeria’s leading experts on the sector, Roland Igbinoba, President/CEO, Pison Housing Company will make the lead presentation and will be supported by a panel consisting of senior policy and private sectors leader, with participants and delegates drawn from the real estate and housing finance sectors across the United States and Nigeria.

Official data from the office of the Honourable Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Amal Pepple, confirms Nigeria’s housing deficit of over 16 million. Lagos State, the commercial capital of Nigeria, accounts for 30 per cent of the housing deficit, according to a recent statement by Hon. Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, Commissioner for Housing, Lagos State.

A Presidential mandate has seen the introduction of policy reforms in the housing sector, which is being spearheaded by Ms. Pepple. She said recently that:
“Mr. President recently directed us to focus on land titling, housing finance, affordable housing, low-cost/social housing and urban regeneration and regional development. We intend to vigorously pursue the implementation of these initiatives over the next two years in order to achieve the targets we have set for ourselves.”

The framework for the establishment of a Federal institution for housing refinancing is being assisted by the World Bank, as confirmed by the Honourable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the Spring Meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington DC, in April.

Nigeria’s domestic mortgage market is currently valued at 445 billion U.S. dollars, yet with rapid rate of urbanization and positive demographic structure, housing finance is seen to be critical to support human and infrastructural development.

Mr. Igbinoba says: “My presentation will cover the investment opportunities in real estate in Nigeria, spanning from residential to commercial real estate. I will do this by comparing Nigeria to its peers in the region. This will show Nigeria as the destination for real estate investment by North American investors.”

Nigeria's property boom: only for the brave

(Reuters) - On one of the most exclusive streets in Nigeria's capital sits a crumbling mansion with an unwelcoming message painted at its entrance: "BEWARE! THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE".
The warning refers to a popular property scam. In the most elaborate version, robbers break into your house while you are away, change the locks, and then produce multiple copies of fake title deeds. Posing as estate agents, they show buyers around your house and sell as many copies of the deeds as possible. When you get back, your house belongs to six people.

This sort of deception epitomises the tricky nature of Nigeria's real estate business, but despite the risks, there are huge returns to be had in a market where around 16 million homes are needed just to meet current demand.
Navigating through opaque land laws, corruption, a lack of development expertise and financing, a dearth of mortgages and high building costs will take courage and influential local partners.
"There are sizeable challenges to overcome but in many ways Nigeria represents the perfect storm for real estate investment; huge population, rapid urbanisation and a growing middle-class," said Michael Chu'di Ejekam, Director of Nigerian Real Estate at Actis, a London-based private equity firm.
Actis has $5.2 billion under management, including two sub-Saharan Africa real estate equity funds totalling $434 million, which it says are attracting U.S. and European investors.

Nigeria's population of nearly 170 million is bigger than Russia's and its economy is growing at 6 percent, a combination which is producing a new wave of property buyers from bankers and airline staff to mobile phone and fast food shop owners.
"I see demand from the middle-class higher than ever before," said Deolu Dara, Associate Vice President at Nigeria-based Avante Property Asset Management, which manages several multi-million dollar residential projects in Lagos.
A successful real estate investment in Nigeria can earn an returns as high as 30-35 percent, while rental income yields in cities such as Lagos and Abuja can easily reach 10 percent, developers and estate agents say.

Property in Lagos, a heaving metropolis of around 20 million people, can be among the most expensive in the world with two-bedroom flats costing more than $1 million in upmarket areas.
However, the top-end range is dominated by well established players and developers should target middle-income workers in major cities, such Lagos, Abuja and the oil-hub Port Harcourt. The most popular units fall in a price bracket of 20-35 million naira, developers and estate agents say.

Nigeria's middle class make up around 23 percent of the population and earn around 80,000-100,000 naira per month, according to report by investment bank Renaissance Capital.
In smaller cities and rural areas, a lack of information about land and regulation is off-putting, while a violent Islamist insurgency has made the north of Nigeria unattractive, despite huge unmet demand in cities such as Kano and Kaduna.

The majority of Nigerians live in poverty in shanty towns or in basic concrete block and iron-roofed houses they have built themselves, but building mass housing for the poor is not a popular investment.
"If you know the market, the people, focus on middle class and cherry pick your deals, you can clean out," added Dara, who said Africa's biggest oil and gas industry is also driving demand. One foreign oil major bought 300 flats recently.
Nigeria's construction and real estate sectors are growing at more than 10 and 12 percent respectively, a boon for foreign and Nigerian construction firms, including UPDC (UACN.LG), Cappa D'Alberto (CAPALBE.LG) and Julius Berger (JBERGER.LG).

Yet, there is still not enough quality affordable housing because business is frustrated by widespread corruption, poor state infrastructure and a lack of expertise and financing.
Constructing a block of flats costs three times as much in Nigeria than in South Africa, builders say, and many developments are abandoned when projects run out of money or become slums because they are poorly built.

London-based estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL.N) ranks Nigeria 96th out of 97 on its transparency index, just in front of Sudan but behind six other African countries.
Having support from powerful politicians or business magnates will help to avoid terminal financial pitfalls.
"It's a business that requires local partners and local knowledge or you'll run into problems," Dara at Avante says.

Avante's chairman is Wale Tinubu, the head of oil and gas firm Oando (OANDO.LG) and a close relative of former Lagos state governor Bola Tinubu, who still wields influence there.
London-based Actis has given directorships to Nigerian energy firm Seven Energy and local conglomerate UAC (UACN.LG).

Once the supply challenges have been overcome, there remains a problem with that huge latent demand. No mortgages. Unless you are willing to pay a 25 percent interest rate.
The mortgage debt-to-GDP ratio in Nigeria is under 0.5 percent, compared with 72 percent in the U.S. and over 30 percent in Malaysia and South Africa, government figures show.

"In places like America you seem to be able to buy property without a stress but it just isn't like that here," said Ike Ejekam, 31, who is about to buy a newly-built two-bedroom apartment for 20 million naira in a gated community in the popular Lekki district on the Lagos peninsula.

Ejekam represents the new breed of buyers who expect well-built housing with all the modern conveniences. He works at a branch of a local bank and is using his life savings and funds borrowed from family members to buy his property outright.

"I don't like to think about mortgages because it scares me when I see how difficult it is for my friends to get a loan."

Nigerian banks don't like giving out mortgages because reliable information about buyers and land is scarce, while there is no secondary market to offset the risks.

The government says it is trying to fix this by securing a $300 million loan from the World Bank to establish a mortgage refinancing company, which should free up some bank lending.

A Federal Mortgage Bank was also launched this year, which government hopes will help build 500,000 new homes. The bank plans to float a 200 billion naira mortgage bond, the proceeds from which can be handed over to home buyers with the state guaranteeing against default for five years.
The government is also discussing passing legislation to create a secondary mortgage market and to improve land laws.

"With this sense of urgency we could have a significant improvement in the mortgage market by 2015," United Bank for Africa (UBA.LG) CEO Phillips Oduoza told Reuters.
This optimism is also being felt by developers as dozens of well-financed projects are underway, including the Eko Atlantic City - a multi-billion dollar project built from 9 square kilometres of land being reclaimed from the sea in Lagos.

The billionaire Chagoury brothers, who are of Lebanese descent, are leading the mega-project, which will feature parks, swimming pools and skyscrapers with floor-to-ceiling glass. Banks, including France's BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Belgium's KBC (KBC.BR) and several Nigerian lenders are on board.
In Abuja, UPDC has started its 228-unit 'Metro City', which consists of well-designed blocks with balconies built in palm-fringed private compounds. Privately owned Churchgate Group is building its ambitious $1 billion World Trade Centre, a series of skyscrapers housing offices, flats and upscale shops.
"Nigeria is a huge real estate opportunity," said Ejekam at Actis. "The story is getting out, slowly."
(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Lekki Gardens widens affordable luxury homes frontiers

The apprehension by most young families and other members of the growing middle class to own affordable cozy homes in a serene and high brow neighborhood seems set to be relieved by GT Rich Realtors, developers of Lekki Gardens.

Currently existing in four phases, all on the Lekki Epe Expressway of Lagos, Lekki Gardens is poised for a giant stride by providing over 1,000 luxury apartments for home owners and savvy investors.
The first phase of the estate comprising predominantly three bedroom duplexes and apartments blocks has been fully delivered to over 200 families who are currently reaping the benefit of tapping into the off plan scheme of the estate which kicked off sometime last year.
These proud home owners currently enjoy all the facilities of an uptown estate such as well paved inter-locked road network, water treatment plants, street lights, underground electrical wiring, over-night power supply and other facilities.

The second phase of the estate which is about five minutes away from Victoria Garden City (VGC), is currently fully subscribed with construction in top gear to deliver over 400 housing units of predominantly three bedroom duplexes and other house-types in time for subscribers to inhabit in the next few months.
Tucked behind the Lagos Business School, the third phase of the estate which is a mini-estate compared to the second phase and it  is expected to house over 150 families in three bedroom duplexes.
BusinessDay visit to the site revealed that construction was in top gear to meet delivery date. Roads, drainages were eagerly constructed and the lush green area of the estate was already mapped out while most houses were almost on decking level.

Construction at the fourth phase of the estate which is also on the Lekki-Epe axis is in top gear to deliver  residential apartments in the next nine months. “At the site, perimeter fencing and other infrastructure are currently being  completed,  while a  1.2km access road to the site has just been delivered to allow easy access to the site, Azuka Ugboh, the company’s media director, revealed to our reporter.
“Our  success stories have however,  been threatened by some  challenges which are affecting early delivery of the estates”, Ugboh said.

One of the major challenges we face is the doubt that has clouded the real estate sector in recent times, as clients fear that developers might not deliver on their promise, especially when it has do with off-plan sales.
However, at GT Rich we have been able to allay those fears by delivering the first phase in our series of Lekki Gardens.

“Also with the second phase fully subscribed, it is obvious our clients have a great deal of trust on us and that further informed our decision to see them as our partners rather than just clients,” he added.
“There is also the difficulty of the terrain on some of our projects because of the swampy nature of the Lekki environment; however, we have been able to tackle this by employing strategies that have helped us to dredge the areas,” Ugboh said, disclosing that they  construct their houses with raft foundation at some of the challenging sites to guard against future environment challenges

Friday, September 6, 2013

Nigeria’s farming reforms still face hurdles, say companies

Nigeria is reforming its farming sector to bolster production and draw investment but companies this week said more needs to be done to tackle entrenched corruption, poor infrastructure and rogue government agencies.

Nigeria’s annual economic summit focused on agriculture for the first time, in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to fixing Nigeria’s biggest employer. Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina, who has been praised by donors and businesses for his efforts, was keen to stress the success of reforms began two years ago.

He said subsidies used to reduced the cost of fertiliser for farmers were not longer managed by corrupt politicians but instead were given directly to farmers.He said food imports had fallen by 850 billion naira ($5.2 billion) and food production was up by 8 million tonnes, helping to create 2.2 million new jobs, Reuters reports.

The government wants to add 20 million tonnes of domestic food production by 2020 and rice, corn, sorghum, palm oil and cocoa have already increased, Adesina said. The world’s second-largest importer of rice, Nigeria aims to become self-sufficient by 2015 after introducing a 100 percent tax on polished rice imports this year, likely to mostly affect countries like India, Thailand and Brazil. Security sources and farmers have said one backlash has been a rise in smuggling of rice and sugar from neighbouring countries and into ports.

Higher cassava output has been used to make flour, reducing wheat imports mostly from the United States by almost 9 percent, Adesina who noted bank lending to agriculture had risen to 25 billion naira this year from just 3.5 billion in 2012
Duties on agricultural equipment have been scrapped and tax breaks given to companies willing to invest in both farming and industrial processes, as well.
The country’s reforms have drawn new foreign investors such food giant Cargill, seed company Syngenta and brewer SABMiller, while Dangote Sugar and others are investing more.
However, many companies asked to speak at the summit gave a less rosy picture, saying state and local governments still extort unofficial payments, while officials at ports and customs either worked around government policies or outright ignored them.
Confusing laws on land, much of which is owned or claimed by government officials, also mean it is difficult to expand. That has left 60 percent of Nigeria’s arable land fallow, farmers say.
“We’re still battling with the basics; visa processing times, port delays, access to credit, transport systems. Rhetoric is all we are getting. It’s time to walk the walk,” said Alan Jack, managing director of Shonga Farms, a mainly poultry and milk farming group which supplies the Lagos branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken, owned by Yum! Brands.
Jack said imported chicken from Brazil cost 135 naira per kilo, while a chick in Nigeria cost 180 naira, making government plans to emulate its South American rival unrealistic.
“Ports would scare the life out of anyone. It’s the worst thing about your system,” said Calvin Burgess, chief executive of Dominion Farms, a U.S.-owned firm looking to farm rice in Taraba state.
He said $10 million of agriculture equipment was delayed for almost a year because customs and other agencies sought bribes and noted Dominion had operated in Kenya for 10 years “without anything like these problems”.
The government says port reform is a key policy, but investors say progress is slow. Industry players were also critical of Nigeria’s dilapidated road network and
troubled power supply noting it is often more profitable to ship produce to the U.K. rather than transport it from Lagos in the south to the biggest northern city, Kano.
“We don’t benefit from any infrastructure put in place. We have to build our own roads and provide our own electricity,” said Gbenga Oyebode, chairman of palm oil firm Okomu Palm, said.
Nigeria is privatising much of its power sector, which should help improve electricity shortages that hurt the agriculture sector.
Nigeria’s reforms are needed to reduce reliance on a struggling oil sector and cut a $11 billion food import bill

Thursday, September 5, 2013

3Investor programme assures on 50% reduction in investment transaction cost

Real estate investors and consumers who subscribe to 3Investor Loyalty Programme, one of the newest products in the property market presently, have been assured of 50 percent reduction in their investment transaction cost and professional fees.

The product, according to its originator, also offers subscribers other opportunities such as access to about 30 percent discount on purchases from subscribed outlets such as malls, airlines, haulage, real estate events, current information on market conditions and new projects through a weekly newsletter.

Ruth Obih, MD/CEO, 3Invest Limited, owner and promoter of the programme, noted at its launching in Lagos recently that her company was concerned about the current transaction fees (commission) paid by real estate consumers on property , which hover between 10 and 15 percent.
Obih said the loyalty programme launched alongside a Real Estate Investment Network (RIEN) at the Property Buyers Forum (PBF) organised by the company in Lagos was designed to help real estate investors and consumers.
According to her, the product is to be driven by REIN, an investment nexus that seeks to connect sponsors with investors who are willing to invest in income-producing real estate portfolios to expand their income margin.
“REIN is expected to broker investments within the 3Investor circle by introducing projects considered investible to a network of investors who will pull funds together to execute projects under predefined arrangements and earn income on such projects on an agreed percentage to every member of the network who has invested in the project,” she said.

She explained further that “REIN is expected to help sponsors raise more funds for real estate projects by building investors’ confidence and closing the gap between investors and developers; thereby ensuring that more activities are ongoing in the real estate sector.

“As a company, we are committed to how the industry grows and activities that make for its growth. That is why we have created the REIN and the 3Investor as platforms that can help increase the number of activities in the industry. We believe that when there are more activities, employment will be inevitable and where there is employment, real estate contribution to the GDP will increase.”
To her, REIN is an annual subscription-base network that runs on the 3Investor platform of Standard and Premium subscribers; Standard subscribers are willing investors with an investment portfolio of N1,000,000 and above.

Premium subscribers have their entry level pegged at N20,000,000, she said, pointing out that REIN differs from REIT – Real Estate Investment Trust – in that it does not bank or hold the investors’ funds and is not managed by a sponsor; “it only maintains the network of these investors and introduces investible projects to it and manages the project through an escrow account.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nigeria: Delta Donates 60,000 Hectares for Cassava Farm Project

To support the cassava bread and high quality cassava flour development initiative, the Delta State government has donated 60,000 hectares of land in Abraka for a mechanised cassava farm.
The Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Greyne Anosike stated this in Abuja on Friday.
The statement said the gesture was also part of the state government's support to Federal Government's Agricultural Transformation Agenda, adding that the state government also provided a 20-hectare farm land for flour factory in Abraka.

The state governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, who announced the donation, commended the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, for taking agricultural practice to a higher level.
The statement also said the Delta Government was determined to exploit the potential of the agriculture sector as part of its medium and long-term strategies, to curtail unemployment in the state.
Mr. Adesina commended the Delta Government for the gesture and called on other state governments to partner with the ministry to realise the ongoing transformation of the agriculture sector.
The statement quoted the minister as saying that partnerships in agribusiness would create growth and development and called for a synergy between state governments and the ministry the sector's potential in job creation and economic empowermen