• Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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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.