The participation of Rendeavour in the Lekki Free Zone (LFZ) project is a singular vote of confidence in the future of the zone and the surrounding area. The self-styled 'largest urban land developer in Africa' only invests in areas where it sees future growth, and it believes Lekki has 'dynamic' growth prospects.

Rendeavour has created a 60/40 joint venture with Lekki Worldwide Investments (LWIL), which represents the Lagos state government, to develop an initial 250 hectares for mixed use in the north-east quadrant of LFZ. It intends to increase the project land size and is currently discussing this prospectwith the other parties. It says the project will deploy "world class" infrastructure and create thousands of jobs.

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"In terms of size of investment, as we are in initial stages of a feasibility study and moving towards masterplanning, exact figures are yet to be determined," says Tim Beighton, Rendeavour's head of marketing. "Needless to say, the size of the project means that a multi-million-dollar investment in bulk infrastructure will be made."

He adds that Rendeavour will provide all planning, roads and services connections, such as sewerage and electricity, and will work closely with authorities and LWIL to ensure the work aligns with the wider vision of LFZ.

Seizing an opportunity

Rendeavour has an impressive pedigree, thanks to its founder and CEO, Stephen Jennings. In 1995, Mr Jennings founded Renaissance Capital (RenCap), a Russia-based investment bank specialising in emerging and frontier markets (including Africa) and, at one time, a leader in its field. When RenCap was sold to its Russian partners in 2012, Rendeavour was among the assets retained by Mr Jennings and his Renaissance Group.

The firm is backed by US and other international investors, and its strategy is driven by a belief that a global economic transformation is taking place, and nowhere will this be more evident than in Africa. It sees the greatest opportunity in Africa because the potential for catch-up and convergence is greater on the continent, and is likely to be fulfilled more rapidly.

The size of the project means a multi-million-dollar investment in bulk infrastructure

The business model it will apply in Lekki has been developed in other parts of Africa, where it seeks out large-scale blocks of what is normally virgin land, at or near the edges of growing cities. It works with urban growth experts to create a masterplan for market- and community-led development, then procures and installs all bulk infrastructure. At that point it partners with developers to build mixed-income residential, commercial and industrial areas, resulting in a new and modern city with what it calls "a standalone live-work-play environment".

Rendeavour already has one other such Nigerian project, in Abuja. Others in Africa are in or near Accra and Takoradi (Ghana), Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lusaka (Zambia) and Nairobi (Kenya). The company points out that Lekki is one of the most dynamic growth areas in one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world. "You only have to look on Google Earth to see how urban growth has stretched from Lagos down to Lekki over the past 10 years," says Mr Beighton.