Marna van der Walt, CEO of Excellerate Property Services.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains rich with untapped opportunities, even in the face of slowing growth due to global economic conditions. This is the word from Marna van der Walt, CEO of Excellerate Property Services (EPS), Africa’s leading provider of property services.
“Even with the concern around China, a major African trade partner, dominating the big global economic agenda, the sub-Saharan African region is still set for positive growth,” says van der Walt.
She points to IMF figures, cited at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS’) Africa Summit 2016 in Sandton Central recently, which forecasts sub-Saharan Africa still experiencing positive growth of around 3.7% in 2016. This growth would be driven by noteworthy growth in East Africa, in countries like Kenya.
“A growing number of sub-Saharan African countries are becoming important markets for Excellerate, in addition to our core market in South Africa,” says van der Walt.
Adriaan Otto, General Manager of Excellerate Property Services Africa, reports that one of the most notable trends coming out of sub-Saharan Africa is the growing sophistication of its real estate market, which is driving the demand for professional property services.
EPS is on the front line of this progress. In East Africa JHI Kenya has been appointed the property manager for Kenya’s first REIT listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the Stanlib Fahari I-REIT. EPS is also the appointed manager of the first green-rated office building in Ghana and the West African region, One Airport Square.
Property Management is among the many services from JHI’s full bouquet of property solutions it offers its clients across the African continent. From facilities management and utilities management to consulting and advisory services, as well as corporate real estate services (CRES), JHI helps its client be more competitive in the sub-Saharan African market place and adds value to their businesses.
Otto notes that current global market conditions will undoubtedly impact Africa’s position on the global stage.
“This presents new challenges, but also opportunities for savvy businesses. For example, we’re seeing a massive demand for efficient and cost effective facilities management. With many sub-Saharan countries’ local currencies devaluing against the USD, in which rents are denominated, rentals are becoming more expensive for tenants. So, optimizing utility costs has become a focus to help tenants’ bottom lines.”
Setting the pace for property services in Africa, Excellerate Property Services was a sponsor of this year’s RICS Africa Summit at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton Central. This sponsorship, together EPS’s backing of the East Africa Property Investment Summit in Nairobi in April 2016, reflects Excellerate’s strong position at the forefront of opportunities and challenges in the real estate sector and broader built environment of sub-Saharan Africa.
Excellerate Property Services has gained specialised insight into the region’s real estate markets through its expanding sub-Saharan African footprint. It has grown significantly in various new markets in recent years. Excellerate has a long established presence in SADC markets such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. More recently, it has entered new markets such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, and is also represented in countries such as Mozambique and Swaziland.
Excellerate operates in over 10 African countries with over 30 offices in Africa, all staffed by its operational network of experienced, dedicated professionals with excellent local country knowledge.
Looking at the countries that hold the greatest promise, Otto notes that EPS businesses in these regions is still growing, thus hold a lot of opportunities. Kenya is a proving to be a key market in East Africa and a springboard into the region. “We also see some good prospects in Tanzanian and Ugandan markets. In West Africa, Ghana is a major market, and prospects are emerging in other areas, such as Ivory Coast. Of course, as the continent’s largest economy, Nigeria is a major player in this region. Despite the country’s challenges and risks, its commercial property sector show great promise for facility managers.”
Otto stresses that EPS favours a country-specific approach to business. “In all these countries, we work in tandem with local partners and businesses. Having local people on the ground is an imperative for us and essential to operate successfully in any market. We want to forge win-win partnerships where we all put our knowledge and experience together. In this way we learn, grow and prosper together”.
“We are the complete opposite of a ‘suitcase business’,” stresses Otto. “We are committed to sustainable local partnerships and growth in the sub-Saharan markets in which we invest and operate.”