There’s no denying that in recent years there has been an incredible migration to African cities and built up areas as growing populations seek access to jobs and basic services. In fact, the African Development Bank (AfDB) projected that by 2040 50% of Africans will live in urban areas, which means there will be an astronomical growth in the populations of Africa’s already densely inhabited major cities.
While this migration and the ongoing rapid urbanisation across key markets in Africa are natural events that follow the macroeconomic growth, these events do place significant strain on typically old and insufficient infrastructure and resources in-and-around these cities and built up areas. This, coupled with the fact that several of the industrial drivers behind Africa’s macroeconomic growth – including mining and agricultural activities in particular – are generally located away from urban areas, will drive a movement towards ruralisation or new urbanism.
A global design movement; new urbanism promotes the restoration of compact, walkable, mixed-use urban developments that bring residential neighbourhoods, retail and commercial parks back together in a healthy city environment. In South Africa – particularly in Gauteng – there are already several successful examples of mixed-use developments, including; Menlyn Maine, Steyn City and Waterfall. Although these examples do still fall within what would be considered urban or built up areas, taking a similar approach as new urban mixed-use developments to outlying cities or towns offer vast opportunities to tap into previously excluded property markets across rural-Africa.
Economic growth potential and the socioeconomic needs and demands of Africa’s rapidly growing population will continue to determine major infrastructure projects, where we anticipate that industrialisation, consumerisation and the need to do these sustainably, will become driving forces behind commercial property development across Africa in the foreseeable future.