RICS global summit to focus on Africa

TC Chetty, RICS Country Manager for South Africa

Bringing together leading property practitioners, investors and academic experts from around the world and across the continent, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has selected Africa, and more specifically South Africa, as the venue to hold its 2015 Summit. To be held in Johannesburg on 25 March, 2015 this is only the fourth time RICS has held the global summit outside the UK – after China, India and Brazil.

RICS is a global professional body that promotes and enforces the highest qualifications and standards in the areas of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. As a public benefit organisation, it operates in all the world’s major financial hubs in delivering international standards and policy influence.

As a leader in these sectors, RICS Africa 2015 Summit will engage role players from across Africa’s built environment to launch a discussion on vital aspects of Africa’s economic growth and future success.

Commenting on the forthcoming conference, TC Chetty, RICS Country Manager for South Africa, says Africa’s built environment is undergoing unprecedented change, with rapid urbanisation and populations in key cities projected to grow some 60 percent above 2010 levels. “Developments such as these bring increased opportunities not only for the commercial and residential property sectors, but also for professionals working throughout Africa. Our Africa Summit will provide a platform for debate and discussion on important aspects of the continent’s property growth.”

Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund reflect that GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates for some African countries are expected to exceed those of their developed counterparts. Indications are that Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia anticipate growth rates of between five and seven percent.

According to Ernst & Young’s report ‘Africa by numbers 2013-14’, African countries have experienced consistent and robust growth for over a decade, with the size of the continent’s overall economy more than trebling since 2002 and with the size of the Sub-Saharan economy growing well over three-and-half-times. This is despite the fact that half of the past decade has been marked by a deeply troubled economy. The report reiterates the exciting opportunities for investment and growth in Africa, with Ernst & Young’s 2013 ‘Africa attractiveness’ report noting that foreign direct investment (FDI) projects into sub-Saharan grew at a compound rate of 22.3 percent between 2007 and 2012.

Says Chetty: “Sub-Saharan Africa presents a huge area of opportunity where real estate and infrastructure investment needs to grow phenomenally to meet massive population needs. In many of the continent’s capital cities, improved levels of FDI and a growing middle class has led to notably increased demand for residential, business and retail property.

“Growth in property markets across Africa will not just fuel a need for massive infrastructure investment but will also see a need for more professionals, skills and capacity to manage this growth. Naturally, while this presents a host of opportunities, it also presents a number of challenges for various markets across the continent – particularly in the property sector.

“While RICS has had a presence in South Africa for some years, we are now in the process of expanding our operations, initially focusing on three key regional markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. The rationale is that South Africa is a strategic gateway for RICS’ growing its activities in Africa; Kenya is rapidly becoming a strategic location for organisations wanting to establish a regional base in East Africa, while Ghana is our choice for a regional hub in West Africa.

“Due to the diversity of Africa’s markets, needs and challenges, ours is a strategic approach of co-operation and building partnerships with national bodies and stakeholders. As a public benefit, professional body with global reach we are ideally placed to bring together stakeholders from around the world to share experiences and expertise, and to collaborate and learn. The Summit will also highlight the role development professionals can play in key African markets as the built environment evolves and expands.”

Concludes Chetty: “There is no doubt that Africa would benefit enormously from a larger pool of built environment professionals. For example, if across Africa, measurement standards can be implemented in conjunction with ethical standards – and effectively and independently regulated, we believe we can help create market conditions in which investors, clients and the public as a whole have high confidence, and in which growth is sustainable. Our experience is that genuine collaboration between professional bodies from across all areas of the built environment and between national and international entities promises to bring significant economic dividends, which ultimately benefit society as a whole.”