In an increasingly globalized world, collaboration across borders is becoming more common and essential.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents a monumental step in economic integration, aiming to create a single market for goods and services across 54 countries in Africa.
As it stands, the primary focus of AfCFTA is on trade in goods and services, investment, and intellectual property rights. However, integrating the real estate sector into this agreement could have profound implications for Africa’s economic landscape.
The Potential of Real Estate in AfCFTA
Real estate is a significant component of any economy, offering opportunities for investment, employment, and infrastructure development. In Africa, where urbanization rates are high and demand for commercial and residential properties is increasing, real estate can play a pivotal role in economic development.
Integrating real estate into the AfCFTA would facilitate the flow of capital and expertise across borders, streamline cross-border property investments, and harmonize standards and regulations.
In 2023, the of the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA) called for the first cross boarder collaboration with its affiliate International REALTOR® member organizations within the continent. Leadership of GREPA sees this as a great move towards the AfCTA initiative for the continent.
As the SDGs have been instrumental in guiding policy and investment decisions worldwide, Governments, businesses, and civil society are increasingly aligning their strategies and operations with the SDGs steering towards compliance and sustainable practices evident in several areas.
In joining the AfCFTA call to action, real estate institutions in Africa will similarly make such efforts in addressing matters regarding real estate laws and regulation, land ownership issues, access to finance and infrastructure within the real estate industry.
Strategies for Integration
To incorporate real estate into the AfCFTA, here are a few strategies recommended to be employed:
- Create a Pan-African Real Estate Framework: Establish a comprehensive framework that outlines guidelines for cross-border real estate investment and development. This may seem impossible due to language, cultural and other barriers, however with innovation, education, cultural awareness, open dialogue, and training, these barriers can be overcome.
- Facilitate Information Sharing: Develop a platform for sharing market data and best practices across countries to enhance transparency and decision-making. An initiative to create a central platform for sharing market data has been initiated by the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association. This will offer numerous benefits in terms of market efficiency, transparency, and accessibility.
- Encourage Public-Private Partnerships: Promote partnerships between governments and private sector players to drive infrastructure development and real estate projects.
- Standardize Real Estate Financing Models: Work towards standardizing models for financing real estate projects across member states to simplify investment processes. An initiative Shelter Afrique is currently undertaking successfully across Africa
- Foster Regional Real Estate Hubs/Associations/Instituitions: Identify and develop regional hubs that can act as gateways for real estate investment and development within the continent. The five(5) African Regional member countries; the Cooperating Associations of the United States National Association of REALTORS® including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Gambia
Incorporating real estate into the AfCFTA framework offers a unique opportunity to drive economic growth, urban development, and regional integration in Africa. While the challenges are significant, the potential rewards in terms of investment attraction, infrastructure development, and job creation are immense. By adopting a collaborative and strategic approach, AfCFTA can pave the way for a more unified and prosperous African real estate market.
Lady Vicky Sampah
Founder & CEO