Millicent Muthoni spoke to Roland Igbinoba, Director, Arehf Academy.

What would you say is the state of real estate and housing finance in Africa?

I would like to separate the two issues – real estate and housing finance. Real estate in the region will typically cover all aspects – residential, commercial, retail and industrial. Apart from the residential sub-sector, all other sub-sectors of the real estate industry are doing quite well and are rapidly evolving in most countries in the region. 

Now, housing finance, which links up with the residential sub-sector has  experienced a slow take-off for a long time now.

It is, however, important to mention that at the top of the pyramid, you will find a high level of activity compared to the lower part. So in reality, and taking a critical look at the impact that is being made, you will find that housing finance is still very nebulous in the region except in countries like South Africa and a few North African countries.

Why is Kenya the host of choice for the awards ceremony

The choice of Kenya for the AREHF Academy Award is majorly based on Kenya’s attraction as a tourism destination. We strongly feel that the environment here will present the right atmosphere to celebrate African entrepreneurs and businesses in the real estate and housing finance sector.

Roland Igbinoba, Director, Arehf Academy.

What will the AREHF Academy Awards achieve?

The objective for AREHF Academy is to grow the real estate and housing finance sector in the region. With 12 distinctive award categories, we want to discover and celebrate real estate and housing finance players in the region. The awards event is designed to appreciate those who have put in commendable efforts in growing the real estate and housing finance market in the African region. With these awards, we want to expose the world to the massive potential of this sub-sector in Africa.

Nominations for the award will be on contribution to innovation and creativity that translates to economic development and wealth creation, environmental sustainability and demonstrable public good.

What kind of partnerships are you forging?

We are seeking for partners in the entire gamut of players in the industry and this will cut across the supply and the demand side.

At the demand side, we are looking at commercial banks, mortgage companies, investment banks and private equity firms.

On the supply side, we are looking at construction companies, architects and professionals in the built environment, cement companies, manufacturers of real estate related products like tiles, steel, roofing sheets, furniture and so on.

There are lucrative opportunities for sponsorship.

What is the objective of Arehf academy?

The African Real Estate and Housing Finance (AREHF) Academy is a leading resource centre for the development of real estate and housing finance in the African region.

AREHF Academy has been specially designed and set up with the real estate and emerging housing finance markets in Africa in mind.

It is a blend of learning and practical experiences from investors, developers, policy makers, lawyers and multi-lateral agencies.

The academy focuses on various real estate sub-sectors (hospitality, commercial, retail, industrial), housing finance systems, the legal regime, credit evaluation and underwriting, mortgage monitoring and administration and the best practices associated with these transactions.

Programmes in the academy are taught through case studies focusing on all the aspects of real estate. In addition, there are practical experiences through field visits to ongoing commercial and residential developments in the region. The academy thus provides intensive period of education in practical innovations, institutional, financial managerial and creative aspects of real estate and housing finance.

The idea for the awards came as a result of the feedback we have received from our numerous participants from various countries. There was an urgent need for a platform for celebrating the development impact that real estate and housing finance was making in the region. Very often, this impact is clouded either by other sectors of the economy or perennial political crises in some of the countries in the region.

Who should we expect at the awards

I dare say that the AREHF Academy Awards is a high profile event. You will be expecting to meet the very best of real estate players across the region.

You will also have our friends from Europe, North America and Asia coming to see and appreciate what is being done here in Africa.

The aim of inviting our foreign friends is to expose the region to them and seek mutual international business cooperation for the sector.

What should we expect from the awards?

The awards will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Nairobi. We will kick off with a business to business networking event on the evening of March 29.

Participants will have the opportunity to develop new business contacts on this night. This will be followed by a one-day conference on the March 30.

The conference is aimed at reviewing the development and opportunities of the real estate and housing finance sector in the region.

Speakers who have an understanding of the African real estate and housing finance markets have been drawn  from reputable institutions globally.

Any surprise winners to expect? Will the awards aim to ‘discover’  excellence?

That is what the AREHF Academy Award is all about. Discovering and celebrating.

There will always be surprises from an award of this nature. It’s an industry-led award and the industry will be voting. So you will definitely find institutions that are making huge impact but are unknown or not celebrated even in their local markets.

There will be an Awards Advisory Board for the awards. However, the industry itself will nominate and vote for the recipient in the different awards categories. For the finalists that will be voted for, the Awards Advisory Board will be looking for execution of exceptional transactions and projects.

Nominations are closing February 29 and we expect nominations from all players in the African region. All sector players from whichever part of the continent are open to nominate themselves or others.

What do winners stand to gain?

There is no monetary reward to the AREHF Academy Awards. But being a recipient of the award is priceless. It brings superb recognition and opportunities for further development and growth of the recipient institutions.