Currently operating in eight countries in Africa - South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana and Zambia - property management company JHI is looking to further expand its footprint in the continent into Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Comments Wayne Wright, business development director for JHI: "Both being of strategic significance to South Africa, we see Zimbabwe and Tanzania as emerging nations poised for fast turnaround growth. With 15 years' experience in trading in the rest of Africa, JHI has always viewed Zimbabwe as a country with huge potential and the ability to change rapidly, and despite the current problems experienced there, believe it can become a sought after business destination not only for South Africa but also for the rest of the continent and the global market.
"With no proper credit system in place and purchases made on a cash basis, the credit crunch has hardly affected these countries, as is the case with Africa in general – apart from South Africa. And the fact that the US dollar is the common or base currency in use – in addition to their own local currencies – adds appeal for foreigners transacting in these countries, particularly from a property rental perspective. This is born out by the success of supermarket chains such as Shoprite and Game, as well as mobile phone operators and business hotels. Such expansion through Africa and increased trading continues to boost the local economies of these countries while providing new jobs and catering for an emerging middle class. It is positive to note that increasingly, forward-thinking governments in Africa are encouraging foreign direct investment and opening up trade with the rest of the economies in the region.
"With the recent conversion of Zimbabwe's monetary system to US dollars, we are seeing a strong trend among the country's local developers and fund managers to begin exploring ways of catching up with the international property markets,” says Wright.
While JHI's Lesotho and Namibian operations are wholly-owned, the company has formed joint venture associations with local partners, namely developers, in Mozambique, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Botswana.
Says Wright: "Local partnerships provide us with valuable, hands-on experience and business connectivity in the country of operation, together with local staff and office space, while JHI brings systems, skills, training and implementation as well as South African tenants to the new development projects. In countries where we have wholly-owned business entities these comprise mainly property and project management operations, established to service an existing client base in the regions."
In Ghana the company has project and development management teams currently involved in two projects; a new 215-room, 5-Star hotel in Accra and a new industrial plant in Takoradi. In addition, JHI Ghana is busy developing and promoting two shopping centres and an office block development. "While these projects are in the planning and financial stages - and in parallel with the project management service provided - we are ideally positioned to market the space to South African retailers and office tenants," says Wright.
In Lagos, Nigeria, the company is the appointed letting agent at the 30 000sqm Portal Parks Mall in Ogan State. With anchor stores of Shoprite and Game, strong interest is being received from both local and South African retailers. Wright says that Nigeria commands the highest retail and office rental rates compared to any other African country, by more than double. In Gaborone, Botswana, JHI are the appointed project managers and letting agents on a new mixed use development comprising 50 000sqm of retail, hotel and office space, while in Mozambique the company is letting and consulting at Matola Mall, a 40 000sqm retail development in Matola.
Comments Wright: "With Shoprite and Pick 'n Pay anchor tenants, the retail take-up at Matola Mall has exceeded availability – with 80 percent bespoken by South African and the balance local retailers. Located on over 56ha this major project comprises five different phases including offices, residential, government and community centres."
In addition to this expansion, JHI is assessing business opportunities on a project by project basis in Sudan, Mauritius and Swaziland.
Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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