15 Mar 2019 - Sierra Leone (Freetown)

Ian Lawrence

I have just returned from Sierra Leone where the speedboat trip across the bay from the airport to Freetown provided just the adrenaline rush needed to shake of the feeling of drowsiness from my flight.

I stayed at the Country Lodge, Hill Station which has great views across the city and is still a little cooler than the coastal region despite the fact that most of the trees have now gone from the hill. A reminder of what it was like before deforestation comes in the form of the Cotton Tree that marks the centre of Freetown. It is said to be over 300 years old and is home to a colony of bats.

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13 Mar 2019 - Liberia (Monrovia)

James Whitmee

I am in Monrovia in Liberia looking at the land market.

It is complicated because only Liberians can own real estate, and to be Liberian you have to be of African descent, but almost of the major developers are foreign.

Therefore, all ownership by foreigners, which includes embassies, is based on a lease from Government or a Liberian company or person, normally for 30 years+ with rent reviews, sometimes with an upfront premium, compensation for buildings, profit share etc.

All of this makes the land market very difficult to analyse, with concerns that the ownership laws might encourage foreigners to withdraw their investments from the country.

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7 Mar 2019 - Kenya (Nairobi)

Charles Hector Whitmee

This week I am in Nairobi looking at the industrial land market. With an oversupply of office space, shops, homes and hotels, industrial is perhaps the only sector in and around Nairobi which currently has a buzz around it.


In 2018, JLL reported that total demand for industrial property in East Africa surpassed that of West Africa for the first time, with Ethiopia and Kenya being the main drivers of growth. In fact, the same study projected that demand for industrial property in Kenya would grow by 3.6% year-on-year over the next decade. This is in large part due to major infrastructure projects which have begun to attract foreign investment into Kenya, as the country seeks to become the regional logistics hub for East Africa. These infrastructure projects include:

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6 Mar 2019 - Senegal (Dakar)

James Whitmee

I am in Dakar looking at the prime office market and apartments across the peninsular. I have based myself in Ngor up in the north near to the old airport, but I have been working north-south from Les Almadies, through Mermoz, Fann, Point E and down to Plateau.

The prime office market is relatively small and most speculatively developed buildings run with vacancy of around 10-15%. There are a variety of finishes from fitted to a shell condition. Prime rent I would put at CFA 12,000 /sq m before tax (18% VAT + 3.6% TOM – TOM is a waste management tax). Service charge may be in addition at around 15%.

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29 Jan 2019 - Senegal (Dakar)

James Whitmee

I am in Dakar for the week valuing various land parcels and mid-market apartment developments across the peninsular.

The most significant real estate development is now taking place at Diamniadio (around 30 km to the east of Dakar) where Government is moving its ministries. This will clearly have an impact on the peninsular of Dakar with other businesses likely to follow government.

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13 Dec 2018 - Niger (Niamey)

James Whitmee

I am spending the week in Niamey, the capital of Niger, looking at the villa market.

There is a lot going on here in terms of construction, with an Islamic College being built by Saudi Arabia and a significant programme of hotel construction in advance of next year's African Union conference.

However, there has been nothing like the amount of construction that I saw in N'djamena in Chad when they were intending to host the same conference (and then cancelled it), and I am not sure this event will bring any international hotel brands into the Niger market.

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14 Sep 2018 - Trinidad (Port of Spain)

James Whitmee

I am in Port of Spain in Trinidad looking at the office market. I have come here on a plane that island hops, and by the time I get back to the UK I will have been in five Caribbean countries.

The major users of office space in Port of Spain comprise Government and the oil companies. BP is probably the largest single corporate user of offices with 150,000+ sq ft.

Government is now mostly located to the south of the city, and in particular in the new, high-rise development which has taken place on the waterfront around the Hyatt and Radisson hotels at Downtown Port.

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28 Feb 2019 - Mali (Bamako)

James Whitmee

I am in Bamako in Mali. It is spring here and the weather is mild which has made it relatively comfortable walking around the city. However, the place is not pedestrian-friendly because of the amount of traffic and the speed at which it moves (motorbikes particularly), so you need to be very careful crossing roads.

Property prices in Bamako are relatively expensive, and are generally equally if not more costly than the more developed Francophone West African markets of Dakar (Senegal) and Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire). In term of benchmarks, prime offices here lease for up to CFA 12,000-15,000 /sq m /month and a prime ex-pat apartment would be up CFA 1,500,000 /month, with sometimes up to CFA 2,000,000 quoted.

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28 Jan 2019 - Uzbekistan (Tashkent)

Jasen Leith

Arriving at Tashkent International airport I am reminded that cash is king with the severe lack of ATMs anywhere. When I finally find one it’s a USD only machine and that you need to exchange your ‘’winnings’’ into the local currency. That being said it is an immensely efficient airport and with the help of the friendly airport taxi service, who will also sell you a local sim card, bottled water and soft drinks, I am heading through the early morning darkness to my hotel. I am in Tashkent, Uzbekistan looking at the residential development land market.

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31 Oct 2018 - DRC (Goma)

James Whitmee

I am in Goma which is the capital of North Kivu province in DRC, and right on the border with Rwanda. It is in a spectacular setting as it is on Lake Kivu, surrounded by mountains and with a large volcano just to the north of the city (Mount Nyiragongo).

The city is split into zones with Zone A being closest to the country border, moving westwards through Zones B-D. The main real estate drivers are 1) access to mains power and water and 2) security and routes for evacuation (the city was evacuated across the border to Gisenyi in the early 2000s when Mount Nyiragongo last erupted). Zone A is the best in terms of these criteria.

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06 Feb 2019 - Djibouti (Djibouti)

James Whitmee

I am in Djibouti looking at the residential real estate market. I am staying downtown but researching the upmarket areas of Heron and Haramous. It is currently the equivalent of winter here, but still around 30 degrees - last time I was here it was much hotter.

People start work in Djibouti at around 7am and work through to midday. They then break for four hours before starting again. That break is pretty strictly observed, and during that period, even in downtown, the streets are quiet and shops and restaurants are closed.

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14 Jan 2019 - Armenia (Yerevan)

Jasen Leith

Rerouting an original flight now via Moscow to arrive at Zvartnots the rather aptly named ‘’Celestial angels’’ airport on an overnight flight, is a shock to the system. Exiting the warm airport, the -4 degree air temperature hits the lungs with a vengeance. Snow and more snow and not a ski lift in sight. I am in Yerevan, Armenia looking at the residential villa market and commercial development land market, respectively.

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28 Sep 2018 - Liberia (Monrovia)

James Whitmee

I am in Monrovia in Liberia looking at the housing market. I have been focusing on the areas of Sinkor and Mamba Point, although today I took a detour and went out to Bushrod Island to see the Freeport.

The real estate market has been severely knocked off course because of a combination of:

  • UN peacekeeping force leaving the country
  • Low iron-ore prices
  • Oil companies retracting because of the high cost of extraction from the off-shore fields
  • Liberia was the hardest hit country during the West Africa Ebola outbreak

There are also protests this week in Monrovia because a consignment of newly printed currency representing 5% of GDP has gone missing en route for delivery to the Central Bank.

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