Kenyans are currently adopting the eco-friendly housing concept. Here’s what Adnan Savani of Developing Afrika Ltd (DAL) had to say about going green and DAL’s recent projects.
Can you tell me more about yourself and Developing Afrika Ltd?
I started as the project manager at DAL over a year ago, I am now the company’s General Manager. My academic background is environmental management with a passion for caring for the natural environment. We incorporate ‘green’ or sustainable housing projects into Developing Afrika Ltd’s portfolio as we are a real estate firm; that is our core business. It is vital that all companies, no matter which industry, respect the natural environment in the work they do. We, at DAL will make a significant difference in this regard. Our prime project at the moment is Juja South Estate; it’s a 30 acre piece of land. We started construction in January 2013 and we will complete Phase 1 by April 2015. Phase 1 consists of 80, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments and penthouses and 32, 3 and 4 bedroom townhouses. We will begin Phase 2 mid next year and eventually complete the project with 257 units. People are already interested in buying Phase 2 and we have not started construction. After the show house of the town house was ready a couple of months ago, we got momentum. People are really interested in the project. We have currently sold over 50% of the apartments already even before the show apartment was ready. At Juja South Estate we also sold 1/8th acre pieces of land. People who bought this land can now build their own houses while maintaining the same exterior design of what we are construction to maintain a clean and uniform look within the estate. We’re also selling land in other parts of Kenya such as Juja, Kitengela, Naivasha, Thindigua, and we’re looking into other locations such as Machakos, Lamu, Diani, and Nakuru. At DAL we are also property managers; we have a commercial building in Industrial area. We also manage the Bahari Dhow Beach villas in Diani, one of the best beaches along the coast.
Why did you pick Juja as the location for the Juja South Estate?
The main reason is the Thika superhighway. People are looking to move out of Nairobi. The cost of commuting is cheaper, within a 20-30 minute drive you’re in the CBD. Compared to areas like Mlolongo and Syokimau, it’s easier to get to Juja while completely avoiding the intense traffic of Mombasa road.
Developing Afrika Ltd also does joint ventures?
Yes. We are professional developers. We have the expertise on how to master plan pieces of land. We can give guidance and different options on how to develop that particular piece of land. For example, if somebody has a piece of land and they ask us what to do with it, we’ll join hands with them and build for them whatever deems fit on the location and the prospects of the area, whether it be schools, hospitals,
residential estates, complexes, malls, etc.
Is there a certain demographic that your properties focus on?
Looking at the way Kenya is growing, we want to cater for the lower to middle income groups. These groups need housing. The high percentage of our population that does not have access to adequate housing reiterates our main focus to provide for the demand. Juja is mainly occupied by middle income groups but our next project will be focused on the lower income groups.
Where do you see the Kenyan property market 2 to 3 years from now?
The property market is definitely going to continue growing. We are far from reaching a bubble as some people have recently spoken about; as a developing country, there will be many real estate projects coming up and will continue to do so – this is clearly evident especially in Nairobi. With a growing lower to middle income population, the demand for housing will continue to grow, and it our duty as a real estate developer to help in meeting this demand.
What do prospective buyers need to know when purchasing property?
The key thing is to look at the title deed and see who the registered owners are. There are a lot of problems with people claiming to own pieces of land; due diligence is key. With any transaction you need to carry out a full due diligence checks and ensure that the owners of the property are rightfully entitled to it. Then look at the area, the roads, access to electricity and water, and consider the provisions, based on one’s reason to purchase a property – be it whether to develop the property or invest in it without development.
Looking forward, what future opportunities are there for Developing Afrika Ltd?
We have learnt a lot from developing Juja South Estate. The sky is the limit; we are going to keep looking into large, environmentally friendly estates which cater to the lower income community and future demands which our country requires.