The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (RICS), a global body that promotes high standards in the built environment around the world, explains that the adoption of international standards by professionals in the country’s built environment would not amend existing local standards, but enables global comparison and consistency as far as investors and markets are concerned.
“The problem is that locally there is nothing wrong with what anybody does, but from the view of an international investor, who is looking to invest in property in Ghana, or another country, the investor runs into different codes of measurement.
“For instance, an office space of 24,000 square feet in New York will not be the same in Accra. So, an international investor has no confidence in the different variations of measurement,” says Peter Bolton King, the RICS Global Property Standards Director, at a stakeholders meeting in Accra.
The meeting was organised by RICS in collaboration with Broll Ghana, to introduce International Property Measurement Standards and International Valuation Standards to stakeholders in the construction and built industry. The event was also used to mark the beginning of operations of RICS in the ECOWAS region with Ghana serving as the hub of RICS’ operations in West Africa.
International investors consistently look out for the same standards at different business locations globally in the built environment. The same type of measurement in the construction of buildings in the commercial sector becomes crucial in attracting investment to Ghana.
RICS says one of the main challenges confronting the built environment globally is inconsistent standards. Currently, RICS together with its partners have developed global standards such as International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS), International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS), International Valuation Standards (IVS) to spur sustainable development.
According to him, at the moment measurement of property in Ghana’s built environment is done locally, but, explains that, “it does not mean that what is being done in Ghana at the moment is wrong. However adopting international standards makes sure that there is consistency so that comparison can be done with regard to property globally”.
He says international standards ensure transparency and very importantly, de-risking the process in the built environment in Ghana as far as investor, end user and government are concerned.
The West Africa Regional Manager for RICS, Benjamin Manu, emphasised that, “We are not saying the local space or Ghana for that matter have not got national standards or property measurements, it in fact exist. Investors want to make sure certain standards are abided by, which they are using elsewhere, the question is, do we have it. So as a country, if we are keenly interested in that, then we have to make sure that local standards are benchmarked against international standards”.
International standards assist to provide transparency, certainty, enhance or re-build trust, reduce confusion, higher standards, re-position the importance of ethics, key to stimulate investment and growth and importantly de-risk the decision in the built environment.
International standards are developed collaboratively, through transparent consultative process, and enacted locally, through or alongside domestic standards, to provide consistency, comparability and common language.
“The idea is to complement what is in the country, some places they have replaced it, but it always good to maintain what you have but make sure it is benchmark against international standards. We are not in a business to change what exist, the idea is to introduce international standards for professionals to embrace it and say this will work for us,” Manu said.
RICS and the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) signed an agreement about a year ago to help build better professionals between both organisations.
International standards become vital given the World Bank estimates that 70% of global wealth is in property but valuations are based on inconsistent local measurement data. Globalisation is connecting markets, yet the standards adopted locally can differ dramatically, increasing risk. Risk is one of the primary factors stemming investment.
King says as the globe move towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals, sustainable buildings play a key role to decrease the amount of energy, carbon use, etc.
“Unless you have got an agreed way of measuring property, then governments don’t know what is being done on the amount of carbon saving, unless you have got the IPMS measurement you can’t actually know the amount of sustainability saving being done,” King emphasised.
By Samuel Hinneh