Property opportunities in Africa: What we can learn from Mara Delta’s portfolio
DSA (Courtesy photo) / The sinuous shapes of the plan and façade of the Torres Rani in Maputo.
For Mozambique, whose finances are currently crippled by a heavy debt burden, a mega real estate project such as the Torres Rani (Rani Towers) is very timely. Inaugurated yesterday in Maputo, with the attendance of the country’s President, Filipe Nyusi, these iconic residential and office towers somewhat distracted the audience from the daily and sad news related to the human and material costs of the Cyclone Dineo in the Inhambane province.
Speaking from the first-floor terrace of the residential tower, facing an expansive panorama of the Maputo Bay, the Mozambican head of state called the “initiators” of the project “courageous”. He praised their “vision” and their effort in making of Mozambique “a major tourism destination”. Filipe Nyusi also underscored the Government’s commitment to turning Mozambique into one of the most dynamic tourism destination in Africa by 2025.
Torres Rani is Rani Investment’s latest real estate development project in Mozambique, in joint venture with the Asian hospitality and leisure company Minor Hotel Group, based in Thailand. Costing more than $200 million, the project includes the Radisson Blu Hotel, an upscale 154-key property inaugurated in 2013.
As for Dubai-based Rani Investment, it is the Hospitality and Real Estate business arm of the diversified Aujan Group Holding, with more than $500 million of committed investments in the Middle East and Africa. The group already operates the Pemba Beach Hotel, the Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort Spa as well as a resort in the Bazaruto Island (Island of the Mist).
Designed to be a place to live and/or work, the two-tower structure spans 775,000 square feet (72,000 square meters) and includes 224,000 square feet of office space and a residential tower of more than 180 furnished and serviced residences, as well as a two-storey secured parking garage and a retail area that will service both towers.
Within the residential tower, 117 studio and one-bedroom units will be fully managed by Radisson Blu. Amenities include two swimming pools, a children’s play area, restaurants and lounges and a state of the art gymnasium. One of the major appeals of the towers certainly lies in their very distinctive architecture, with their oval-looking shape molded in premium-grade concrete and large semi-smoked glasses.
“We are witnessing a new architectural cycle in Mozambique”, says deputy minister of Culture and Tourism Ana Comoana, who also emphasized, during a speech, on the contribution of the project to the cultural radiance of the city and the country.
Abdulla Aujan, Director of Business Development at Aujan Group, reaffirmed his four-year long dream to make of the Torres Rani a genuine “reflection of Maputo’s vibrant identity”. Furthermore, the son of former chairman of Aujan Group, Sheikh Adel Aujan, who passed away in late January, could hardly conceal his emotion when he paid tribute to his father, who initiated the project.
“The cooperation of the Mozambique government has been incredible”, adds Abdulla Aujan, turning to President Nyusi. “There were countless challenges and headwinds along the way, but we overcame them together”, continues Aujan’s executive.
Asked about the impact of the recent financial and economic crisis on operations, Rui Monteiro, who owns Turconsult (an investment advisory firm for companies seeking to establish themselves in Mozambique), and who represents Rani Investment’s businesses in Mozambique, assured he never was discouraged.
“We obviously had to adapt ourselves to the new reality and deal with minor delays”, admits the business man in an interview for Club of Mozambique. He draws the attention to the occupancy rate of the 63 units that Rani Investments manages, which reflects how successful the project is at this very early stage of its development.
Rui Monteiro is also hopeful that the Torres Rani will contribute to “strengthening investor confidence in Mozambique” at this very particular phase of its long-term cycle. “On our part, we believe in Mozambique and its future and certainly want to participate to the growth story here”, outlines Rui Monteiro, who is already observing substantial movements from companies, leaving other business centers for the Torres Rani.
Late last year, when MMO, Mozambique’s leading serviced office provider, opened its own offices at Torres Rani, the company said that the location was “exclusive” while “at an affordable rate”. MMO had cited one of its clients, saying the project allowed them, as medium sized companies “to work from the prestigious Rani Towers”, for “under normal circumstances”, a company of their size “would otherwise never be able to work from there”.
According to Rui Monteiro, one of the main factors that will further improve the business climate in Mozambique lies in the training of local technical staff and the elimination of red tape, though he admits the Government already made huge efforts in the latter issue. “It is also up to us, as the private sector, to contribute to improving the business environment in Mozambique”, emphasizes the entrepreneur, who also happens to be vice-president of the Confederation of Economic Associations of Mozambique (CTA).
Finally, as to the future, Rani Investments is planning another project in Santa Carolina, the smallest among the five islands that forms the archipelago of Bazaruto. “Contrary to our typical business models, where we build and manage the hotel facilities, this time we will focus mainly on the construction and solicit a third party, highly skilled in marketing management, to run the daily operations.” Without naming the company that will be responsible for the daily management of the hotel, Rui Monteiro concedes that the signing of a memorandum of understanding is imminent.
By Levy-Sergio Mutemba