In July, Cold Solutions, a leading temperature-controlled warehouse and logistics service provider, announced that it will invest $70 million in building the largest, most-advanced cold storage warehouses in East Africa. The first 15,000 sqm facility, located at Tatu City in Kenya, caters for temperature ranges from +26 to -40 C. It is also designed to accommodate multiple product ranges, from fresh fruit and vegetables, to pharmaceuticals and vaccines, meats, poultry, and frozen foods.
In January, Ariel Foods, a leading manufacturer of nutritional foods for high need populations, launched the largest ready-to-eat therapeutic food factory in Africa. The facility, located on a 28,000 sqm plot at Alaro City in Lagos, Nigeria, has an annual production capacity of 18,000 metric tonnes and is one of the most technically advanced ready to use therapeutic food manufacturing facilities in the world, enabling Nigeria to meet its own requirements and export nutritional foods.
These two record-breaking investments – Alaro City and Tatu City – have one thing in common: they are being built in the strategic growth trajectories of the biggest cities in Nigeria and Kenya by the largest new city builder on the continent, Rendeavour. Not only does Rendeavour catalyse investment and economic growth, its credibility is based on a track record for delivering large-scale infrastructure.
“At Alaro City, we have attracted almost 30 multinational and Nigerian companies since our launch last year,” said Yomi Ademola, Country Head, Nigeria for Rendeavour. “Alaro City’s first phase of residential plots sold out quickly and the second phase is moving at a similar pace. With clean title, high-quality infrastructure and multiple free zone benefits, we provide a business- and family-friendly environment that the market is keying into.”
Planned on 2,000 hectares (over two times the size of Victoria Island) in the North West Quadrant of the Lekki Free Zone, Alaro City includes industrial and logistics locations, complemented by offices, homes, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, entertainment and parks and open spaces.
Over in Kenya, Tatu City, shows where Alaro City is headed. With 56 businesses operating or under development, two schools educating 3,000 students daily and 5,000 homes delivered or under development, the 2,000-hectare project has been embraced by Kenya as a foreign direct investment of national economic importance.
Alaro City and Tatu City are just two out of seven new cities being built by Rendeavour on 12,000- hectare portfolio spanning Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo. Stephen Jennings, Rendeavour’s founder and CEO has walked the talk with his serial investments on the continent. In 1995, Mr. Jennings founded Renaissance Capital in Moscow and in 2006 he set up African operations and today the bank is widely regarded as one of Nigeria’s and the continent’s leading investment banks. In 2012, he launched RenMoney in Lagos, Nigeria’s leading fintech consumer finance bank.
In Rendeavour, Mr. Jennings and his partners created a vehicle for attracting additional investments from businesses who trust Rendeavour and the quality of its cities.
“We provide the platform, and then bring dozens and dozens of big investors who now feel comfortable to come into the country,” said Mr. Jennings during an interview with BusinessDay. “In Nigeria, for instance, Dhiren Chandaria, Chairman of Ariel Foods, hadn’t been to Nigeria before. He knew nothing about Nigeria. But he knew about Rendeavour, and he knew there is a market opportunity. So, he trusted us to create the environment where he can come in and substantially build his factory in six months.”
The result of this is the record-breaking food factory – a landmark facility that can be seen from the Lekki-Epe Expressway – is on course to create hundreds of jobs. While Ariel Foods is gearing up to start operations, the developers are making significant progress in providing supporting infrastructure. The city’s initial road networks, built with rain gardens and cycling lanes, are at advanced stages; a 50 MVA power plant is under construction; and water and sewage infrastructure are also being built. Attracted by, among other things, the speed with which quality infrastructure is being rolled out in Alaro City, new businesses keep signing up to build their facilities.
For Nigeria, two key economic development needs are being met in this project – foreign direct investment and model urban development. “This is what we do: create the living and working spaces that will help sustain and accelerate Africa’s economic growth, meet the aspirations of Africa’s burgeoning middle classes, and serve as a catalyst for further urban development,” said Mr. Jennings. “We have a long-term commitment to Africa, and to Nigeria in particular. Alaro City is a symbol of our commitment to Nigeria, and of the continuity of a partnership anchored in three administrations of the progressive Lagos State Government.”
The economic nerve centre of the country, Lagos has led admirably from the front in providing exemplary public-private partnerships needed for economic diversification and growth. In Alaro City, the state government is well aware of the potentials of this particular model. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, speaking during the launch of Ariel Foods, gave an indication of how much importance the state government attaches to its partnership with Rendeavour.
“Alaro City is a critical part of our plan for the development of the Lekki Free Trade Zone,” he said. “When this project is completed, it will essentially amount to one of the busiest and most inclusive urban developments that the state has seen in recent times, and one which combines high quality residential, commercial and industrial facilities, all surrounded by 150 hectares of parks and green spaces.”
The governor also endorsed the public private partnership between Rendeavour and the Lagos State Government as the model it seeks. “Our goal is for Alaro City to become a veritable model for PPPs of this kind,” he said. “We also intend for it to serve as a model for the kind of reasonably-priced and climate-friendly urban developments that Lagos deserves, as a 21st century megacity. We are thus grateful to Rendeavour for being excellent partners and investors on this project. I assure you that our administration in Lagos State will continue to guarantee policies, programmes and initiatives that will attract investments and create the right environment for these investments to thrive and create economic value.”
In January, more than 10 multinational and Nigerian investors had signed up to build various commercial facilities in Alaro City. This number has grown just one short of 30 within six months, despite the economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is just a matter of time before another record-breaking investment is announced at Alaro City.