This is the first of a two-part series written by Bill Endsley, an IHC Global Consultant and Principal of World Citizen Consulting. His guest posts reflect his personal life experience advocating for open property markets worldwide. You can read Part 2 here.
Around the Lagos Lagoon are both Makoko, a world famous floating slum on the western shore, and Banana Island, a man-made island on the southern shore with multi-million dollar townhomes. A new city, Eko Atlantic, is a planned multi-billion dollar project being built on reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean. Why is Makoko world renowned and Eko Atlantic a secret? Emerging markets offer a great opportunity to reexamine how real estate is developed around the world and how development affects equality. We clearly saw this during our teaching trip to Lagos, where we were constantly surprised by the growth, energy and sophistication of one of the world’s largest cities.
We were in Nigeria for a program on international property markets sponsored by IHC Global and offered by FIABCI-Nigeria and the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. I was accompanying the President and Past-President of the National Association of Realtors – a father-daughter team representing five generations in the U.S. real estate industry – to teach a two-day seminar. More than one hundred participants enthusiastically participated in a program focused on global capital flows and property investment, many of them father-daughter teams themselves.
As we got to know to know the city and took the participants through the International Property Markets Scorecard methodology, significant problems with informality became clear. Not just the informality of the road side hawkers, the thousands of Keke (auto rickshaws) that take people to and fro while public transportation is virtually nonexistent, but the fact that the Governor of each State controls all property transactions. This legacy system comes from more than three decades of military rule after independence from the British.
A system where the government controls all property transactions is ripe for corruption and mismanagement. Private wealth and political constituencies take precedence over public good and people either look for ways around the system or for connected elites to grease the wheels. However, petroleum can no longer float the economy and the government can no longer afford to slow-walk private sector reforms, particularly in land markets and property transactions. The reality of this transition was clear to many of the participants. As I look through their business cards, I see a few from a dredging company and oil & gas service companies. These entrepreneurs are anticipating the next wave of economic opportunity.
Additionally, wise, opportunistic investors from China, the Middle East and South Africa are lined up like the ships in Lagos Harbor to take advantage of growing opportunities in the property sector. Nigeria has been politically stable for almost twenty years and the security situation is improving. Infrastructure joint ventures, affordable housing development and mixed-use developments for the growing middle class offer excellent prospects. Our trip opened our eyes. We interacted with qualified, ethical property professionals ready to usher in a new era. Now is the time to change your perception of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Your expertise and experience is needed to help guide the Century of Africa.
William Endsley is an IHC Global Consultant and the Principal Consultant for World Citizen Consulting. He has over twenty years experience in developing international market strategy and has traveled throughout the America’s, Asia, Europe, and Africa working to develop professionals in the finance and real estate sector as a means for broader economic development and global security. He is currently working with IHC Global and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) on the International Property Markets Scorecard Methodology. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and has guest lectured at Johns Hopkins and George Washington University. He previously served as the Director of International Relations for the Appraisal Institute where he directed the organization’s entry into China, Germany, Korea and Turkey.