This year’s Summit promises to be the most robust and optimistic gathering in recent years as more than 600 executives representing 250 companies from 30 countries seek to capitalise off 3-4% continent-wide GDP growth, rising commodity prices headlined by $70 oil prices and greater political stability in Africa’s major bellwether economies.

According to Summit host, API Events’ managing director, Kfir Rusin, “Africa’s resurgent economies and property markets are increasingly viewed as a smart destination for investors as global business leaders hunt for yields and growth.”

As he adds, “This year’s theme – Building a Smarter Future for African Real Estate – will build the platform for influential property stakeholders to connect with each other and discuss issues around optimal sizing and restoring global confidence, while also unpacking innovations in building, identifying new funding avenues, and fostering better market transparency.”

The innovative far reaching theme and achievable objectives have gained traction with some of Africa’s largest pan-African property brands. These include its largest bank, Standard Bank, Africa’s most active acquirer of diverse property assets, Grit – Real Estate Income Group, Africa’s largest multidisciplinary property services company, Broll Property Group, and Ethiopian Airlines signing up as this year’s official airline sponsor.

Noted for her bullish views on African investment and rapid acquisition of assets in multiple African geographies, Bronwyn Corbett, chief executive officer of Grit, says, “The most significant factor contributing to a smarter future for Africa real estate is a change in perception around Africa in general and Africa real estate specifically. In 2018, foreign direct investment, political stability and infrastructure improvements have all been catalysts for creating more depth in Africa’s real estate markets, and the world is slowly figuring out the opportunities present on the continent. Real estate has a big role to play in tapping into these opportunities.”

Accessing and ‘waking to the continent’s opportunities’ has been a business advantage and imperative for the Summit’s lead sponsor, Broll Property Group, whose regional and continent leaders attend each year to share insights, debate and network with their peers. As the group’s head of African operations, Leonard Michau says, “Broll is proud to sponsor what is recognised as the leading real estate seminar within sub-Saharan Africa. The API Summit & Expo is well organised, and provides a range of high-quality content, speakers, and panellists.”

The accrual of speakers and ability to interact is a crucial objective for one of Africa’s most exacting funders, Standard Bank’s head of real estate finance, Gerhard Zeelie, as he adds, “The API Summit & Expo achieves impressive high-level participation from attendees across the continent while providing an important platform for delegates to showcase the trends and themes driving opportunity in real estate.”

Global and regional trends and their relevance and learnings to the API’s Summit’s shareholders – Africa’s real estate stakeholders – is what positions the Summit at the forefront of innovation and driving Africa’s markets forwards by delivering new and relevant presentations and case studies, says Rusin.

“This year, from a new trends perspective; we have some of Africa’s leading innovators including Respublica, The Capital Hotel Group and the Zero Carbon Group delivering first time case studies to African stakeholders on student housing, serviced apartments and prefabricated affordable housing solutions, respectively.”

Additional case studies and presentations unique to this year’s two-day conference include presentations by the Washington State Investment Board, the UN General Council on the future of Africa’s cities, Mauritius’ Smart Cities, the first African Index Real Estate Index Fund and bespoke retail and consumer insights and panel discussions with Novare, Massmart and Sagaci Research.

With Africa’s consumer and retail market estimated to be worth over $1 trillion in two years, the evolving and growing sector is of major concern to the continent major moneymen and the overall economy. As Standard Bank’s Zeelie says, “We are seeing growing consumerism in Africa, with increased use of mobile. The retail market, for example, is rapidly evolving and responding to changed consumer behaviour.”

Having successfully doubled its property investment and development conference portfolio across the continent in 2018 from four to nine conferences due to investor demand and sector activity, the interest in African real estate development is rising and reflects a changing view of the continent’s emerging markets, as Rusin concludes. “Our team’s experience and personal equity with international and African property decision makers has enabled us to attract executive delegates, speakers presenting new data and case studies from across the continent and internationally and we look forward to laying the foundation for a Smarter Future for African Real Estate.”

By Ijeoma Opara