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All eyes on African growth

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Modern mixed-use real estate is proliferating on the continent, helping to boost economies

Mixed-use developments are becoming increasingly popular in Africa and when it comes to economic growth, all eyes are on the continent.

This continent is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. In its sub-Saharan Africa 2019 Growth Forecast, the International Monetary Fund predicts a growth rate of 8.8% for both Ghana and South Sudan this year, which will make them among the fastest growing economies in the world. Strong growth rates are also predicted for Rwanda (7.8%), Ethiopia (7.7%) and Ivory Coast (7.5%).

This, together with increasing spending power, a rapid urbanisation rate and Africa’s expanding working-age population which, according to the World Economic Forum, will be larger than either China or India in 2034, are transforming the continent’s cities.

One example is Rwanda’s capital of Kigali which, according to the Eden Strategy Institute, has one of the world’s top 50 smart-city governments.

Not coincidentally, the city has become a mixed-use real estate hot spot too.

“Technologically enhanced mixed-use developments form part of Kigali’s plan to drive investments, improve the business climate and build infrastructure to grow the city’s economy,” says Nicholas Stopforth, managing director of Amdec Property Developments.

“The authorities know that modern mixed-use developments support a vibrant, productive and liveable city.”

In South Africa, he says Amdec Group’s projects, such as Melrose Arch in Joburg, which has changed the way people in the precinct live, work, and spend their free time, have proven this.

With a landscaped urban design that allows pedestrians access to green public spaces among hundreds of trees, Stopforth says Melrose Arch incorporates residential complexes; luxury hotels; an events venue; dozens of restaurants and coffee shops; a shopping galleria; AAA-grade office buildings and a flagship Virgin Active gym.

“Residents and working professionals have everything they need on their doorstep, without having to get into their cars and worry about safety. This was one of the first developments to achieve that for this area.”

Lagos in Nigeria is another one of Africa’s mixed-use rising stars. According to Stopforth, these types of properties are becoming more popular as locals and expats alike look for safe, pedestrian-oriented precincts where one can live, work, play and shop.

This is amplified by high levels of traffic congestion, something which besides Nigeria’s economic heart is also affecting Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Accra in Ghana, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and other metros, including Joburg and Cape Town.

“This is why our latest project, The Yacht Club, which incorporates Africa’s first AC by Marriott hotels, is located in Cape Town’s city centre, close to N1 and N2 access points and near the V&A Waterfront and other business and entertainment hubs.”

While the group is drawing inspiration from what is going on in established markets, he says the company is watching developments closer to home closely, too.

“In terms of future projects, we aren’t just looking at what is happening in cities like Hong Kong and New York, we are looking at what African megacities like Nairobi and Lagos are doing,” says Stopforth.

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