The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is continuing with its expansion in Africa which will result in more property sectors attaining international standards.
In November 2013 RICS committed to expanding in three key countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. It is also creating regional RICS hubs in east, west and South Africa.
On top of this the global real estate organisation commissioned research into property markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, concentrating on the major driver states of South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. It examines opportunities and challenges in their real estate markets.
It found that Ghana is experiencing rapid urbanisation and a growing middle class, expected to reach 1.6 million people by 2030 according to projections by Standard Bank. ‘This presents obvious opportunities in real estate as the need for housing, retail and commercial space increases,’ the report says, adding that the country’s construction sector accounted for 9% of GDP in 2011 and is growing steadily.
The Ghana Institute of Surveyors (GhIS) is positive about the trajectory the country is taking, but has raised concerns like the need for more skilled professionals in the sector.
The GhIS-RICS co-ordinator in Ghana, Rosemargaret Esubonteng, said that the needs of surveyors in Ghana range from access to resources such as relevant literature, modern equipment and software to gaining experience on particular projects.
‘Working together with other professional bodies on the creation and adoption of International Standards, having joint Continuing Professional Development programmes and networking events will enrich the professional experience and outlook of surveyors,’ Esubonteng explained.
She also pointed out that the RICS qualification is recognised worldwide, and so enables members to work across markets. In Ghana, it is a passport to international surveying opportunities, subject to meeting the necessary standards of technical expertise and ethical behaviour.
The reciprocal agreement allows GhIS members to interact more closely and personally with RICS and benefit from its knowledge base and programmes. Members of both organisations have the opportunity of sharing experiences and gaining deeper global insights, as well as explore prospects of building strong partnerships to bid for international contracts in the region and beyond.
The report says that Kenya is fast establishing itself the destination of choice for organisations wanting to set up regional headquarters in East Africa and with huge amount of ongoing construction there is a need for international standards.
RICS has had a presence in South Africa for years. The South African real estate market is relatively mature and the institution is working with professional bodies such as the South African Council for the Quantity Surveying Profession and the South Africa Property Owners Association.
But the report explains that even as Africa's most mature real estate market, South Africa still faces a shortage of skilled engineers, especially in the public sector. RICS currently runs a Diploma in International Arbitration that provides comprehensive training in this subject and is tailored to the specific needs of the South African market. Graduates of the course may then apply for membership of our global panel of arbitrators, which allows them to gain experience of the market outside South Africa.
The RICS approach is one of co-operation and building partnerships with existing institutions, collaborating with organisations across the continent to highlight the role chartered surveyors can play in key African markets as the built environment evolves and expands.
‘While RICS has had a presence in South Africa for some years, we are now in the process of expanding our operations in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. The rationale is that South Africa is a strategic gateway for our growing activities in Africa. Growth in property markets across Africa will not just fuel a need for massive infrastructure investment but will also see a need for more professionals, skills and capacity to manage this growth,’ said TC Chetty, RICS country manager in South Africa.
RICS is holding its annual Governing Council meeting and a special Africa Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, only the fourth time it has done so outside Europe, having held meetings in China, India and Brazil in previous years.
The summit brings together a wide spread of professionals from across sub-Saharan Africa. We are committed to genuine collaboration with African professional bodies across all areas of the built environment with the aim that this benefits society as a whole.
‘We at RICS see specific opportunities in deploying international standards in the continent’s property sector,’ the report says.
The report concludes that all the indications are that, while international investors are more confident about Africa’s economic promise, many Africa markets are becoming more confident about their role in the global economy and how they can deliver on that promise.