Is it possible to mitigate the risks of investing in Africa?

Is it possible to mitigate the risks of investing in Africa?

South African Property Owners Association encourages investors

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Background

The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) was established in 1966 and is widely recognized as the official voice for the industrial and commercial property sector in South Africa, promising to represent and protect their members’ property interests. SAPOA currently controls roughly 90% of the market, worth over $35.4 billion, and is regularly consulted by representatives from both the government and the private sector.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the SAPOA convention in June, 2016 brought together a number of representatives from some of the most powerful businesses in the property sector, both national and international.

Encouraging investors

During the convention a number of experts talked about the exciting opportunities that were currently on offer in South Africa. They accepted that there were still a number of risks associated with investing in Africa, including the current uncertainly as a result of Brexit, however they were keen to emphasis that even though the continent can be challenging, significant returns are still possible to those investors that do their research properly prior to finalizing their commitment.

The regular and often fast changes made to both regulations and laws across the African continent are however continuing to discourage a number of investors. Poor money exchange and debt facilities are also seen by many as a risk too far, the tardy and often unreliable money exchange facilities are a particular concern, as they can prevent investors quickly moving their money out of some countries in Africa when required.

In addition to these challenges, many investors also believe that there are currently better deals to be made in parts of Asia, Europe and even the US, where the prices per square meter can be significantly lower than in many parts of Africa.

The Head of Mara Delta Bronwyn Corbett, when speaking at the convention said that she believed “every African country is different. Each is a challenge and it wouldn’t be worth doing this if it wasn’t a challenge,”, “Real estate, as we have seen in SA, will sustain in difficult times as long as you have quality assets and you purchase assets for the right price. We see the growth in the continent and don’t see it in SA,”.

Attributing blame

Whilst speaking at the convention, Mzwanele Manyi the president of the Progressive Professional Forum (PPF) blamed the private sector for South Africa’s existing economic issues. “Government must find a way to tax funds in the private sector. That is the duty of government. The duty of the private sector is to create jobs, but it does not want to come to the party,” he went on to show his support for the work being done by the ANC by adding that he believed that they still had the influence and power necessary to change South Africa for the better if they gave it the right amount of focus, “We sit with unemployed graduates in townships – most are black and racism in SA has reared its ugly head. People say it is government that is corrupt, but it is actually the private sector that is still corrupt,”.

Daniel Silke, a political analyst, speaking on the same panel, said that he believed the ANC must take “some ownership” of what has been happening in South Africa over the last 20 years. “If half our school learners drop out before finishing school, it cannot just be apartheid’s fault. There has been a reasonable period after 1994 to implement credible policies, but the ANC policies have failed the poor,”, “I still think, however, there is a lot more that unites us as South Africans than divides us. The issue is to keep a very broad mind and move away from very narrow ideologies that hold us back.”.

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