The deal represents just a fraction of the $15bn or so of FDI – mostly from oil and gas companies – likely to flow into Africa from overseas this year. However, it is not so much the size of the deal that is important, but the type.

The project will create 20,000 square metres of retail space for more than 60 retail tenants and is the first Nigerian development of its kind. It is also the largest non-oil and gas investment in the country in 2004.

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The joint venture with Nigerian property developer Tayo Amusan has already secured anchor tenants, including leading retailers and entertainment groups such as Game, one of South Africa’s leading department stores, and Nu Metro Theatres, a multiplex cinema operator.

Adiba Ighodaro, Actis’s West Africa director in Nigeria, says: “After a couple of years of hard work, we are thrilled to announce this landmark development, which will form part of the growing economic activity in Lagos and Nigeria.” Until now, many African countries, Nigeria included, have not been able to realise large-scale retail projects, partly because of lack of investors and expertise, but also because of the absence of sizeable retailers willing to commit to the region.

Actis was spun out of CDC Capital Partners – which remains its largest investor – a year ago and has since made several African investments into projects ranging from property to horticulture and retail. It has also invested in mining, finance, telecoms and packaging. Overall, it manages more than $1bn of investment in Africa on behalf of public and private institutions.