Student accommodation specialist, Aengus Investment Properties is expanding into Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, Lesotho, Ghana and Uganda by investing US$300million in the next five years as demand for safe, affordable, modern student accommodation takes off. James Huff, manager of Africa projects at Aengus Investment Properties, said in a release that “urbanisation, combined with a focus by African decision makers on education across the continent has driven the huge increase in the number of students studying at both public and private institutions – often away from home.”

The commercial property player started buying up buildings and converting them to student accommodation in South Africa about six years ago.

Huff says while it is difficult to calculate accurate numbers of students needing accommodation, in Kenya alone there is a shortfall of about 350,000 student beds.

“Universities in Africa often have the land, but they have neither the funding nor the expertise to build and manage student accommodation,” says Huff. “Many of these institutions are realising that being able to provide decent accommodation to their students is a competitive edge.”

Huff says because the property market in most African markets is not yet sophisticated, there are few opportunities to buy up old buildings and retrofit them as they have done in South Africa, making building from scratch an attractive proposition.

“Our model has evolved to ‘build, operate, and transfer’,” says Huff. “Over a lease period of 25 years, we will then be able to transfer skills to the education institution for which we build accommodation and it will then be able to take over both ownership and management of the building.”

Aengus is currently bidding for 15000 beds at two different public universities in Kenya as well as being in the feasibility stage of a 3000 bed facility for a private institution in Zambia.

By 2014, the company will have 20000 beds in African countries outside of South Africa – the company already has 60000 beds in its order book, which it plans to build over the next five years.

Article source: StarAfrica