JHI expands in Nigeria

Set to develop local skills while handling major property management projects

Property services company JHI, with operations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Middle East, is establishing a firm base in Nigeria, having completed Memoranda of Understandings with three major Nigerian property partners, SVDC, Profund and Alpha Consortium, as well as opening an office in Lagos.

“We are firmly committed to making our mark in the Nigerian property market, through key partnerships and our strong professional property and project management skills,” says Wayne Wright, JHI Director Business Development – Private Sector, Africa & Oncor International.

He stresses that the company will look to utilise local expertise, while assisting in growing professional skills in Nigeria.

Timing of the expansion could not be better, as the country is experiencing strong economic growth and low inflation, as well as improved investor confidence.*

Wright explains that Nigeria is one of the few West African economies with a savings ratio of above 30%. “In fact, Nigeria’s savings ratio is projected at 34% average per year of non-oil GDP for the period 2007 – 2009, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and this does not include fixed capital investments received from abroad.

“The key challenge, of course, is to translate these savings into productive investments. I have no doubt that this process is taking and will continue to take place in an economy whose annual growth rate projected ahead is over 5% per annum.”

At present JHI is hands-on with the construction of the five-star, 223-room Ikoyi Hotel and Conference Centre, which addresses an international business orientation, on a scenic island location linked to the mainland at Lagos. The structure for the complex is 90% complete.

At present JHI is hands-on with project managing the construction of the five-star, 223-room Ikoyi Hotel, which addresses an international business orientation, on Victoria Island linked to the mainland at Lagos. The structure for the complex is 90% complete.

“On the Ikoyi project, we are the project managers and the principal site agents for the owner, a Nigerian property consortium, Beta Consortium Limited. The hotel operator is the Southern Sun group, with SA consultants handling the interior design work, design and planning, tendering and procurement processes.

“When you consider that customs clearance can take up to five weeks and delays in shipping times from ports of origin, co-ordinated arrivals of material and equipment can not always be guaranteed to fit into project management programmes. Therefore logistical experts were appointed to expedite and manage these processes. We expect to have the hotel open by April 2008, which will be an accomplishment for our Nigerian partners,” says Wright.

He adds that JHI is bullish about its prospects in Nigeria. “At present, we are looking at project and property managing an 11 000m² office block (in which a global IT company will become the principal tenant) and two shopping centres – one in Lagos (28 000m²) and one in Port Harcourt
(30 000m²) – both anchored by a leading supermarket chain and both are 60% to 70% pre-let.”

“On the residential side, we have been contracted to project manage three existing apartment tower blocks, together with a fourth new-build apartment tower, in the highly sought-after suburb of Ikoyi. The apartments will be sold off to corporates for long-term executive accommodation purposes. In addition, in Abuja, there are two potential retail developments currently on the drawing boards,” he says.

Wright explains that obtaining title to land in Nigeria varies from state to state (there are 36 states that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria). In Lagos State, title is given for a maximum period of 99 years. Depending on the type of development, projects can be converted into bankable propositions largely on the basis of the development itself (rather than the land being used as collateral) and the buildings’ ability to generate rental income streams.

“All things considered, we view our growing exposure in the Nigerian market as providing good opportunities to expand the JHI brand with its diverse and wide portfolio of offerings. The South African professional teams that collaborate with us and the Nigerian partners on these projects, and those in the pipeline, share our goals,” he concludes.

* IMF Policy Support Instrument, 3rd Review, June 2007