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Casablanca’s stable real estate market attracts further investment says JLL

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Craig Plumb, Head of Research, JLL MENA

Market remains active with new projects announced in 2018 across the hospitality, retail and industrial sectors

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Performance across Casablanca’s real estate market remained relatively stable throughout 2018 with the announcement of new projects also enhancing investor sentiment across all sectors, outlines JLL’s 2018 Year in Review report.

Oxford Economics predicts Morocco’s real GDP will increase by 3.3% in 2019, owing to the expansion of the industrial sector, increased tourism and higher levels of capital spending. As a result, the hospitality and retail sectors continued to remain active in 2018 with new projects set to enter the market in 2019. There was also a notable 8.5% increase in tourist arrivals* in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to Morocco’s National Tourism Office (ONMT).

The hotel performance remained largely stable in 2018 with the sector now maturing due to the entry of new international operators. With increased spending in this sector, Casablanca aims to position itself as a leading destination for MICE and business tourism in the region which is also being supported by improved infrastructure.

“The government is  focused on improving tourism sites and the infrastructure of the city, and several rehabilitation projects are currently underway including the cable stayed bridge of Sidi Maarouf, the Grand Theatre and redevelopment of coastal sites. Casablanca’s hospitality sector will continue to witness positive sentiment with new international developments entering the market,” Craig Plumb, Head of Research, JLL MENA, added.

The retail sector  continues to transform in relation to evolving consumer preferences. Retail developers are now responding to the change in demand by offering integrated retail parks housing additional leisure and entertainment facilities. Performance across the retail sector remained stable over 2018, paving the way for increased mall-based retail space entering the market giving tenants a diversified choice in the future.

After its strong performance in the first half of 2018, Casablanca’s commercial real estate market was relatively subdued in the latter half of 2018. Overall, the average rents remained generally stable in prime locations over the last six months. The issuance of the 600 MAD bond by the commercial real estate company Aradei Capital and the success of the Imorente’s IPO earlier in the year, confirms investors’ confidence in this sector. With new real estate investment funds entering the economy, the commercial market is due to remain active in the future.

With the refurbishment of the infrastructure underway, Casablanca’s industrial sector continues to attract operators due to its well-established road network, port and air infrastructure. Average industrial rents have continued to remain stable, encouraging new investors and occupiers to enter the market.

The full report can be downloaded here.(http://bit.ly/2tOO75n)

JLL

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Africa CEO Forum: Sahara Group Links Success Of Integrated Trade To Infrastructure Development

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Kigali, Rwanda – March 26, 2019: Sustained infrastructure development is required across Africa to boost the prospects of integrated trade on the continent, Sahara Group has stated, as business leaders gather in Kigali, Rwanda for the 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum.

Sahara Group’s Director for Governance and Sustainability, Pearl Uzokwe said the energy conglomerate would make a strong case for multi-stakeholder partnerships to shore up infrastructure development as “this is one of the most critical enabling factors required to achieve the ambitious ideals of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).”

Uzokwe noted that the disparity in landscape composition across the continent is one of the most daunting barriers to economic development.

According to her, “There’s no doubt that infrastructure development should be accorded a prominent position on the agenda for the continent’s CEOs. The non-uniformity of Africa’s landscape confers some measure of advantage on countries with coastal lines as against nations that are landlocked. How to navigate this and other challenges to facilitate an integrated trade scenario remains a critical issue. The business community must be prepared to articulate a collaborative position that will address the achievement of the estimated $170 billion infrastructure funding gap in Africa,” she stated.

Scheduled to attend several meetings to push this position, Uzokwe will also join the AFRICA CEO’s Women in Business Initiative workshop dedicated to “Drafting a gender diversity charter to reach equality in the workplace”.

She said all stakeholders billed to attend the meeting are confident that the charter would drive specific actions geared towards ensuring there is adequate representation of approximately half the world’s population while becoming a catalyst for increasing female representation and retention at various levels of organizational hierarchies.

Uzokwe added that she was hopeful that the charter would also inspire more interventions to drive gender equality and more access to education for girls and women in Africa. “We are intentional about women empowerment and gender parity at Sahara Group and will continue to lead conversations and collaborations in this regard.  Our support for women goes beyond just our employees as over two million people have benefitted from Sahara Foundation’s projects, with women and girls accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries. Some of the initiatives include eye care programmes, scholarships, literacy development programmes, career guidance programmes and water & sanitation programmes and will continually look for ways to encourage sustainable growth and development in this regard”.

– SAHARA GROUP

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Economy

Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt records $1.6B

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CAIRO – 25 March 2019: The Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt reached $1.6 billion, marking an increase of $400 million during the last two years, according to Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr.

Nasr added that the Swiss investments take place in the fields of industry, energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services and food.

The minister also referred to the cooperation between Egypt and Switzerland in implementing development projects at an amount of CHF 330 million (LE 5.7 billion), and in supporting new projects which focus on economic sustainable growth and creating job opportunities through the cooperation strategy until2020 at CHF 86 million (LE 1.5 billion).

She elaborated that Egypt is not only the gate of Switzerland to Africa but also to the Middle East, expressing Egypt’s aspiration to cooperate with Switzerland in Africa, in light of Egypt’s Presidency of the African Union during the current year.

This came during the celebration of 110 years of economic and trade relationships between Egypt and Switzerland, in the presence of Egypt’s minister of investment and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who is currently visiting Egypt and Swiss Ambassador to Egypt Paul Garnier.

For his part, Cassis pointed out to the importance of enhancing the economic relations and increasing mutual investments and projects between both countries, affirming that Egypt is the gate of Swiss investments to African markets.

He also referred to the cooperation between both countries in the fields of education, industry and transportation, stressing his country’s keenness on the human element especially in the education field.

Cassis noted that this event comes in conjunction with the celebration of 110 years of Egyptian-Swiss economic relationships.

– EGYPT TODAY

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Banking / Insurance

GTBank Dominates CBN E-Payments Awards, Wins 8 out of 12 Banking Honours

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Lagos, Nigeria – March 25th, 2019: Guaranty Trust Bank plc continued its dominance of Nigeria’s most qualitative digital financial service awards for the fourth year in a row, winning eight of the twelve honours available to Banks in the 2019 edition of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme (EPIS) Efficiency Awards. The foremost African financial institution, renowned for its innovative products and services, won awards for efficiency and excellent service delivery in virtually every E-payment channel.

The CBN EPIS Efficiency Awards is organized to celebrate financial institutions, merchants and other stakeholders at the forefront of driving electronic payment in Nigeria. Now in its fourth year, the awards are based on objective analysis of all E-payments data collated by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) over a full calendar year. With eight awards, GTBank took home two more honours than the six awards the Bank won the previous year and the highest number of awards presented to financial institutions, Fin-techs, merchants and other stakeholders in the Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme.

The eight awards won by GTBank include:

  • Best Customer Experience Award: for having the highest level of overall customer satisfaction rating in the delivery of electronic payment services to customers in 2018.
  • Real-Time Payments Transaction Efficiency: for achieving the lowest failure rate in the processing of Instant Payments transactions in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, USSD Channel Champion: for achieving the highest number of Instant Payments transactions via the USSD channel in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, Point of Sale (POS) Transactions: for achieving the highest transaction count on Point of Sale (POS) Terminals in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, Card Usage on Point of Sales (POS) Terminals: for authorising the highest card transaction count on the Point of Sale (POS) Central Terminal Management System in 2018.
  • Direct Debit Driver Award: for processing the highest volume of successful debit mandates across all Payment Service Provider platforms in 2018.
  • E-Reference Operations Efficiency: for the Bank’s outstanding performance in the processing of customers references received from other Banks for account opening purposes on the industry E-reference Platform in 2018.
  • ID Services Driver: for achieving the highest volume in the use of the BVN, e-Passport and NIN customer verification platforms in 2018.

Commenting on the Bank’s EPIS awards, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, said; “We are proud to be recognised by the CBN EPIS Efficiency Awards for our efforts in driving excellence in electronic payments and providing customers with a superior banking experience across all digital touch points. These awards serve as extra motivation for us and we continue to find new and exciting ways to reduce our customers’ pain points and offer them benefits beyond banking.

He further stated that; “At GTBank we are passionate about building the bank of the future that connects our customers directly to all the everyday things that matter to them. That is why we are constantly leveraging the best of technology to, not only make financial services cheaper, more personal and readily accessible, but also to create amazing digital experiences in a way that adds real value to our customers’ lives.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a foremost African Financial Institution with Total Assets of ₦3.287trillion and Shareholders’ Funds of ₦575.6Billion. With banking operations across 10 African countries and the United Kingdom, GTBank is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions in the countries in which it operates and serves as a role model in Africa’s financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service delivery and innovation.

GTBank

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