The annual West African Property Investment (WAPI) Summit, the region’s most prominent and largest real estate investment and development conference will be once again taking place in November 2018 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
According to the summit’s host, API Events’ Kfir Rusin, this year’s theme: RE-Calibrating Supply and Demand for Sustainable Growth is a natural evolution of the previous year’s theme, Changing the West African Narrative, which aided more than 400 delegates representing over 200 companies to reposition the sector in a region sparked to a growth footing by Nigeria’s exit from recession.
As Rusin expands, “The market has undergone a shift, which is most evident in the changing retail and office occupier market. To help our 500 delegates unpack these changes – we’re pleased to announce that we’ve secured more than 60 well-known regional and international thought leaders to speak at #WAPI2018. These include, Broll Nigeria’s CEO, Bolaji Edu, regional legal authority, Olasupo Shasore (SAN), Ali Djire, Fraym’s Country Manager and PwC Nigeria’s Chief Economist Andrew S Nevin.”
As the head of one of the region’s largest multi-disciplinary commercial property services providers, Broll’s Bolaji’s Edu, position provides him with a unique position to gauge how the market has re-calibrated post-recession.
As Bolaji says, “If we analyse the grade-A office market in Lagos and the overall retail mall market following the economy entering a deep recession in 2016; take up dropped by approximately 40% (offices) and 55% (retail) between 2016 and 2017. However, as the economic recovery strengthens, we have seen numbers flatten out, and we expect to see an increase over the whole of 2018 from the low point of 2017.”
And while Bolaji argues that the drop-off proved challenging it did enable the market to strike a balance, especially at the height of investment – with property values reaching sky high levels. This boom, he says can be attributed to the post 2007 global recession economy whereby investors fuelled by low interest rates entered emerging markets aggressively searching for high yields.
As Bolaji explains, “We don’t expect to see the same level from the institutional international investment community, which lead to emerging market currencies being too strong and artificially inflated the size of the economies and the size of the middle class in USD terms.”
A More Sustainable Market
Following this inflation and subsequent re-adjustment, Bolaji believes that the market is now on a more long-term stable footing. Commenting that: “The market has begun to rebase itself down from a level where rent levels and capital values in parts of Lagos were comparable to the wealthiest cities in the world such as New York and the out skirts of London.” For him, this is most evident in the reducing rates in the commercial and retail sectors, which are now at “more sustainable levels,” he says.
One of the most striking results of this re-calibration are the new strategies employed by developers to cater to demand and not “copy & paste” and a change in the demographic of international retailers drawn to the market’s demanding and aspirant middleclass.
“Developers and investors in the market are examining building size and design that better reflect the target market. It is important to entertain best practices and the latest trends from around the world, but we need to tailor our projects,” says Bolaji.
Adding that the region’s market size and growing demand from the middleclass means that retailers and companies still wish to establish a presence in Nigeria. “However, they are looking at this more strategically taking into consideration both the potential risks in addition to the incredible upside opportunities. International investors and retailers are seeking more partnership opportunities.”
As the market continues to evolve, Broll has deduced several key trends emerging within the local retail space says Bolaji. “We see local retailers driving demand for retail space especially in secondary locations, while international retailer demand is predominantly driven by retailers from Europe and the Americas, whereas historically, Asian brands were the most aggressive.” Adding that the biggest demand driver in existing malls is food and beverage.
As the market continues to evolve and re-calibrate in line with economic development – Bolaji has noted the demand continues to be driven by the high end and budget segments. “These are the two areas that we see most enquiries from both investors / developers and retailers and corporates.”
Rising Oil Prices
While the rising oil price continues to be of benefit to overall regional GDP growth, Bolaji believes that one market seeing un uptick from oil’s surge is the office sector with occupier demand being driven by the oil and gas sector. While this may not reach the highs of previous eras, especially as many of the new firms are local oil servicing firms. The trend he believes is driven by the fact these local companies can enjoy shorter timelines when closing transactions compared to their international counterparts.
Rusin concludes sharing Bolaji’s views, “We’ve witnessed continued development across Africa and Nigeria, and as an African bellwether economy – what happens in Nigeria sends ripples across the continent from an investment and trend perspective. I believe Bolaji’s presentation and together with other leading panellists will aid us in achieving our key objectives of: identifying the critical shifts in consumer, occupier and retailer demand, and how these changes will shape the future of the industry.”
By Marc Philips