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Transparency in the sub-Saharan real estate market has improved, which is helping to pull in international investment. Louis Bearn reports.

The sub-Saharan African real estate market is becoming more transparent, with the region attracting further levels of global investment because of “increasing professionalisation” in the sector. This is according the latest JLL Global Real Estate Transparency Index, which found that three of the region’s markets feature among global top 10 improvers for real estate transparency, pointing toward a changing environment for inbound investment in the region.

Jeremy Kelly, director of global research at JLL, said: “As regional economies mature and more globally orientated occupiers enter the region, this is spurring greater involvement by international real estate consultancies, developers and investors, promoting professional standards and availability of market data.

“Governments have also contributed to rising transparency in some markets, with incremental improvements in the regulatory environment.”

Significantly, technology also plays a role enabling some sub-Saharan countries to increase market data or improve access to faster, more reliable services. For instance, Rwanda recently introduced a one-stop online centre for development permits, while Kenya opted to digitise its land registry, enabling consumers to make online land rate and stamp duty payments, according to JLL.

According to the survey, Botswana was among the top five global improvers for transparency, despite being a relatively small market by global and regional standards. However, the country has benefited from “more robust regulatory frameworks and market governance” with respect to its other regional neighbours, JLL said. Furthermore, this improvement is seen alongside “greater representation from international market participants”.

Zambia found itself in the 'semi-transparent' category for the first time, while Ethiopia was among the top 10 improvers, despite maintaining a relatively low base, the JLL Index revealed. The reason for relative levels of improvement in these markets is that they are starting from a relatively low base, and despite sub-Saharan Africa having made progress, seven out of 15 markets included in the survey are still defined as “opaque”, according to JLL.

However, Mr Kelly said: “Despite the significant steps that need to be taken in some of the lower ranked countries, the positive momentum seen over the past two surveys, together with continued interest from international occupiers and investors, point to an encouraging outlook for continued increases in transparency and investment in the region.”

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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