Nigeria is the undisputed giant of Africa – at least by most measures. The population is estimated to be 178 million (though unofficial estimates exceed even this). Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy, with a GDP of over half a trillion dollars. Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and economic centre, is home to 21 million people, and a towering megacity that draws people from all over the continent – and beyond. A crucial component of Nigeria’s economic success is property and real estate. Nigeria has the most dynamic property market in Africa – and is fast becoming a global brand for luxury property and real estate. A discussion held at the Property Investor & Homebuyer Show at the ExCel Centre in London discussed Nigeria’s real estate opportunities, and how to spread the word about the country’s immense opportunities.
A panel on property
The discussion, chaired by Joseph Farodoye of Africa Property Invest, sought to discuss the Nigeria’s property market. The opportunities and potential problems were brought up by the panel, and discussed among the audience. Now Africa’s largest economy, growth has been held in part due to a buoyant real estate and construction market. Construction is a rising part of the economy, the output of which is due to overtake India and China by 2020. Three cities are responsible for 65% of Nigeria’s construction sector. Of the three, the capital Abuja is responsible for 22% of the country’s entire real estate industry. This is unsurprising, considering it was a city that sprung up from the wilderness in the 1970s. Nigeria’s real estate market is now attracting significant interest from the international scene. The panel was comprised of Joseph Farodoye, Hassan Mohammed Hassan and Olufolake Abdulrazaq from the Nigerian High Commission in London, and Ibiene Ogolo from the Eko Development Company.
“Some think there is a stigma to do with investing in Africa…I found it a very inviting environment. Don’t just listen to the stories, go out there and get the information yourself. Corruption happens all over the place. Don’t let it deter you. Nigeria is an amazing place, especially for business” – Joseph Farodoye, Africa Property Invest
A key point from the discussion was the need to remove all assumption. The emerging countries are often plagued with negative preconceptions. This is particularly true when it comes to business decisions. Nigeria is not immune. “Localised information changes that dynamic” stated Joseph Farodoye. And indeed, key facts about Nigeria’s economic and social reality have turned these assumptions squarely on their head. Less than 20% of Nigeria’s population is over the age of 55, which translates into a youthful population, with increasing productivity in a time when the West is experiencing loss of productivity due an ageing population. The panel stressed that change was happening, and it was imperative, and financially smart, for them to get behind this change.
Something from nothing
Nigeria has a history of creating magnificent real estate as if from thin air. Abuja, the capital, and home to 3 million people, is only one such example. In the 1970s, Abuja was created, from scratch, in the centre of Nigeria, a symbol of unity, and a reminder that great things can come from simple beginnings. In Lagos, Africa’s largest city, a new city is being raised from the ocean. Eko Atlantic City is the latest modern development. To be built on 10 square kilometres of land reclaimed from the wild Atlantic Ocean, it is an example of the ingenuity of Nigeria’s real estate market.
Times have changed
“The current government is very intent on diversifying the economy, and opening up all sectors, especially property” – Hassan Mohammed Hassan, Nigerian High Commission London
The key theme of the discussion was about change. Nigeria is different to what it was ten years ago, and even ten months ago. The fast-paced nature of Nigeria’s economy ensures that the opportunities for investment are present, and constantly changing. Real estate is written into Nigeria’s DNA, Abuja being a prime example. Nigerians have long been interested in international property. Perhaps now the tables will turn.