Interview of Renier Van Rensburg, the Chief Financial Officer of AttAfrica Ltd

AttAfrica Ltd is a Mauritius based property Investment Company focused on investing, developing and acquiring shopping centres in key Sub-Saharan African Markets excluding South Africa. We had the pleasure to interview Mr Renier Van Rensburg, the Chief Financial Officer of the company who talked on their investment strategy and the property market in Africa.                        

1. Can you tell us more about the company?

The company was created to invest, develop and acquire A grade shopping centres in key Sub-Saharan African (SSA) Markets excluding South Africa. The company focuses in specific countries; Ghana and Zambia. This is mainly due to high growth achieved and the emergence of a middle and consumer class. The Board of directors is well balanced with seasoned individuals, with many years of experience in the Retail Real Estate space.  

2. Your company invests in various locations across Africa namely Ghana and Zambia. Why have you selected these regions?

Key factors in the decision have been the growth prospects, language, land ownership, local partners, the expansion of key South African & International Retailers, to name but a few.

3. What will according to you be the emerging countries in Africa from a property development perspective?

I think it is important to mention that each country in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has property development needs. Even a country like South Africa, still has various developments being built and will continue to do so. The countries in which many large SSA Real Estate Funds, have invested in or are still being invested in, are: Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Angola, Botswana, Mauritius, Morocco and Mozambique. Some of the countries for the future are: Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Rwanda & Ethiopia. 

4. What changes have you seen in the property space in Africa over the past 5 years?

This space has changed quite a bit, with many new entrants in the value chain (vertically and horizontally). Many countries now have shopping centres of a substantial size which did not exist or only a handful existed a few years ago for example Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria and Angola. Many South African & international retailers are entering these countries and growing their businesses. Regulations have also changed and due to this a more demanding compliance burden on business owners. Competition between Retailers and Real Estate houses (like ourselves) is also increasing and fortunately this brings more value to the market and population. The availability of external funders/banks has increased, making finance more accessible, for larger transactions. As you can see I mention high level changes, and one actually needs to go into the detail to really appreciate what this means for the man on the street as well as for an investor.

5. What can you say about the targets, plans and ambitions of AttAfrica Ltd for the next 3 years?

We would like to sweat our assets. Over the last few years we have developed quite a few centres, which are trading now and we would like to focus our attention on the trading position and quality of these shopping centres going forward. 

6. Why have you decided to set up your company in Mauritius?

Mauritius is a country without reproach especially when it comes to governance, trust and ethics. There are very few exchange control regulations which also assists investment holding company/group to function efficiently. Various Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements exist between Mauritius and SSA jurisdictions. The respective authorities in Mauritius are approachable and make an effort to understand the role they can play in assisting companies and countries in their goals. Various Mauritian companies provide support services to foreign investment companies like us ranging from administrative, financial and secretarial services which are also crucial business enablers.