The Role of the Diaspora in Ghana’s Real Estate Market

Author: Albert Ahiadu

Given the rapid rise of Ghana’s urban population, stakeholders are under immense pressure to develop cities to accommodate this increase. Several governments have begun to instate policies geared at making Africa an attractive investment destination for foreign investors and most crucially, the diaspora – citizens that are ordinarily resident outside their country’s borders. Ghana has approximately 4 million of her citizens in the diaspora, predominantly in the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa. Most of them would like to invest back home, but face significant barriers in their attempts to do so, especially the high cost of transactions (an average cost of 8.2% on a $200 transaction).

According to the World Bank’s estimates, transfers made to Ghana through official channels such as banks amounted to US$3.52 billion, US$4.05 billion and US$3.57 billion in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. These remittances contributed to almost 5% of the country’s GDP in 2020, representing a steady increase over the past decade. This increase was greatly boosted by the President’s ‘Year of Return’ campaign in 2019, a campaign intended to encourage the diaspora to settle and invest in the country. The campaign showed initial signs of life, and the global community welcomed the idea as tourism surged. 2019 alone saw a 15% increase in total remittance volume. The ‘Beyond the Return’ campaign, previously earmarked for 2020 has failed to build on the success of 2019, mostly due to the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite all the efforts made, countries such as Kenya have enjoyed a much higher increase in remittance volume, from US$1.75 billion in 2016 to US$3.10 billion in 2020. This increase is largely due to the government’s attempts to improve investment institutions as well as the establishment of bodies such as the National Diaspora Council to provide a platform for the country’s diaspora. Considering the approximately 40% of these remittances are intended for property development and maintenance, it represents an unexplored source of income for Ghana’s ailing real estate market.

As the world returns to some form of normality, remittances are expected to increase once more. Lessons from other African countries such as Kenya can be drawn to better provide an enabling environment for the country’s diaspora to contribute to the development of her property market and consequently, the economy.

About the Author

Albert is a graduate of MSc. Real Estate Finance from the Henley Business School, University of Reading with experience in the areas of academic research and teaching. His research interests are in the areas of behavioral economics, mortgages,
commercial real estate and alternative housing finance with a focus on developing countries and emerging markets.

5 Popular Monumental Buildings in Accra

Monumental buildings carry stories of conservation and the heritage of society. They reflect the extent of influence of the past on the present urban landscape. In Accra, many monumental buildings are linked to colonial rule and independence. Many of these monumental buildings are centered around Osu and Jamestown.

Here are 5 popular monumental buildings in Accra:

  1. James Town Lighthouse
Lighthouse, Jamestown-Accra | Africa-OnTheRise

The Jamestown Lighthouse is located in Jamestown; the oldest district in Accra located along the Gulf of Guinea. The area houses significant historical edifices of colonial rule, indigenous Ghanaian music and arts. The area was a highbrow area in Accra during the colonial era with many government offices and departments during the colonial era. It was the Airport city and Cantonments of the colonial era. Among the developments in Jamestown, the Lighthouse stands tall as a landmark in the area. The structure was built in the 1930s to serve as a fishing port, attracting groups and individuals in the country.

2. Independence Square

PPP

The independence square is about 12-minutes’ drive from the Jamestown Lighthouse. With a seating-capacity of 30,000, the independence square hosts a lot of national events. The construction of the independence square was launched by the first president of Ghana to celebrate the independence of Ghana from colonial rule in the year 1957. Within the independence square are other significant monuments such as the independence arch,  the liberation day monument and the black star gate.

3. Ussher Fort

Exploring Accra! Part 2: High Street, Jamestown, Usshertown, and the  Fisherman's Village | The Obruni Archivist

This fort was built in the 17th century by the Dutch and is located in Jamestown. This fort has served many purposes from the period of colonial rule till date. It has served as a slave dungeon, a police post, a prison, a military detention centre, a court marshall unit and a refugee camp. Its most recent use was a museum of slavery. The fort is presently closed due to its poor state of repair.

4. Osu Castle

Visit Ghana - Christiansborg (Osu) Castle

Located in Osu, the castle was originally built by the Danes in the 17th century to serve as a centre for slavery. Over the years, the fort has undergone several reconstructions and has changed uses over time. Till recently the castle was the seat of government. Presently, the castle is a Presidential museum with personal possessions of past leaders of the country.

5. The Holy Trinity Anglican church

West African Islam

The 127-year old building was built to serve as a place of worship to colonial expatriates. This building is located along the 28th February road and is among the oldest religious monuments in the country. It is a classic piece of old British architecture.

Four Things to Know about REITs in Ghana

Are India-Africa business ties a priority? - https://middleeast-business.com

Author: Makafui Kuffo

My previous article on REITs has sparked interests on REITs with interesting questions surrounding the existence of REITs in Ghana and in Africa. Although REITs are relatively underdeveloped in Africa when compared to global listed public REIT markets, they do exist in Africa. REITs exist in African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius. To a large extent, many of the REITs in Africa are residential REITs who mainly channel investment funds into housing projects. There are however REITs who invest into commercial real estate in countries like South Africa and Mauritius.

REITs are said to be an amazing channel for raising finance for affordable housing in Africa.  In spite of this, certain institutional backlogs tend to retard the advancement of REITs in Africa.

Contrary to the situation in many advanced countries, REITs in Ghana are still in their early stages of development with positive growth prospects once the requisite structures are put in place to ensure the development of REITs in the country.

Here are four things you should know about REITs in Ghana

  1. There is no listed REIT on the Ghana Stock Exchange

Ghana currently has no REIT listed on its stock exchange. Although it has the Republic REIT – the only REIT in Ghana, this REIT is not listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

A major driving force for the listing of REITs on the stock exchange in the country would be the availability of quality information for investors to make informed investment decisions. This availability of information is widely termed as market transparency. Ghana’s real estate market happens to be quite low on market transparency which tends to stifle advancement of REITs and explain why there is no REIT listed on Ghana’s stock exchange.

2. REITs Legislation in Ghana was introduced in 2019

Ghana introduced the securities industry guidelines in 2019 to regulate the operation of REITs and also provide some clarity to the operation of REITs in the country.

Clearly, Ghana is still in its early stages of REITs development. Although, the Republic REIT has been in existence since 1994, there has been no specific legislation to guide its operations.  However, legislations play a vital role for the development of REITs and provide general standards for the operation of REITs.

3. Many Ghanaians are unaware of REITs as an investment asset class

If you randomly speak to a group of Ghanaians about investments, chances are that, many would not have an idea of what REITs are. This is because there is less awareness about the existence of REITs as an investment. Many retail investors tend to be more familiar with treasury bills and fixed income investments, not because they do not like the idea of REITs but because many are unaware of REITs.

4. Institutional Investors find it risky to invest in Ghanaian REITs

It is believed that institutional investors have a key role to play towards the advancement of REITs. In spite of this, many institutional investors find it risky to invest in REITs due to issues of land tenure security in the country. The idea of investing in real estate only to have to deal with many years of land litigation discourages many institutional investors in the country from allocating funds to REITs.

In effect, Ghana’s land administration system has to an extent contributed to the slow pace of advancement of REITs. In Ghana, poor land administration system evidenced in multiple sale of lands, indeterminate boundaries and poor lands records have discouraged many institutional investors from venturing into REITs. However, the role of institutional investors such as pensions funds is very key to driving investments into REITs.

In spite of this, the introduction of the new land law in 2020 which seeks to address many of the issues related to land administration in the country presents hopes of renewed investor confidence in real estate as an asset.

Again, the advancement of REITs in Ghana requires the development of a well-functioning primary real estate market where quality information can be easily accessed to guide the decisions of investors.

REITs are Creating Young Property Investors. Here is Why.

Your Ultimate Guide to Corporate Real Estate Jobs

Author: Makafui Kuffo

For many of us who may want to invest in real estate but cannot afford the huge sums of money involved in acquiring a property, investing in a REIT is an easy way to invest in property without having to pay all the money required to own a property.

Similarly, people who desire to be property investors but are not ready to go through the stress involved in selling a property can easily invest in real estate through REITs. REITs offer investors the ease of converting real estate assets into cash.

At the end of this article, you would understand why this is so.

What is a REIT?

REIT is an acronym that represents Real Estate Investment Trusts. In simple terms, REITs are companies that bring together money from various individuals (investors) to buy real estate with the intention of making money from the real estate assets purchased. Like stocks, investors of REITs own shares and receive dividends. So just as anyone can be a shareholder of any company of choice, REITs offer various individuals an opportunity to be shareholders in real estate assets.

This is how REITs work

The manner in which REITs operate is very simple and straightforward:

  1. They acquire properties with money taken from investors.
  2. They lease out the properties acquired.
  3. They take rents from the tenants of these properties.
  4. They use the rent collected from tenants to pay dividends to shareholders.

Why are REITs popular in advanced countries?

According to Nareit, over 145 million Americans own REITs. Over the years, many investors have come to appreciate the dual role of REITs as an investment asset. Owners of REITs enjoy two major advantages:

  • They enjoy the same benefits real estate owners enjoy.
  • They enjoy the same benefits holders of stocks enjoy.

Owners of REITs have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits enjoyed by real estate owners while enjoying similar benefits enjoyed by shareholders of stocks. Just like real estate owners, owners of REITs are paid from the rents of properties acquired under REITs. This offers the owner of a REIT an opportunity to benefit from the buoyancy of the real estate market at any given point in time. Meanwhile, owners of REITs can sell off or buy new shares in REITs at any given point in time. It is so easy to buy shares in REITs. You don’t need an agent, you don’t need to have all the money required for the purchase of a property, you don’t need to pay any professional fees, you don’t need to wait for so long to get your property sold.