Projects to alleviate student woes
Over the last 3 years AfricanIcon, student housing specialists with over 10 years experience in the development and management of student housing, have been on an expansive drive to land more student housing projects throughout the continent.
“Evidently, there is a dire need for such facilities and we are confident that the current pipeline is only the beginning to what will eventually be a substantial asset class on the continent,” said James Huff, Head of Group African Expansion of AfricanIcon.
“We would like to make the public aware of our company, and our work, showing them that there exists a privately held, experienced company on the continent that is actively pursuing student housing projects.
We are confident that this will be of interest, considering the massive shortage of student housing across the continent,”he added.
The Pan African Student Housing Company, is delivering on a US$600 Million Development pipeline across the African Continent.
James Huff, believes that this is a relatively small start, to what he hopes will become one of the larger student housing providers in the world.
“Africa is a market that has a massive supply and demand imbalance, when it comes to housing in general, and student housing in particular,” Huff explained. He added, “There are massive student housing funds in North America and Europe, where this asset class is already well established. Some of these funds have market capitalizations in excess of US$8 billion, and have some 120,000 plus student beds under management.
We believe that the demand for greenfield student developments in Africa over the next 10 years, will create student funds, that will dwarf these funds not necessarily in market cap, but in number of beds to be created.”
Huff believes that the company’s experience within the Southern African student housing market is an invaluable commodity to take into its Pan African Student Business.
AfricanIcon has acquired The Aengus Group, a specialist affordable housing and student housing provider in South Africa to provide implementation and management expertise.
“Our approach is unique in that we identify an opportunity, mobilize the funding for the project, construct the student hostels, manage and administrate the properties and in some cases transfer the property back to the university after a period,” he said
The model to which Huff refers, is a Build, Operate and Transfer (B.O.T) model very common within Private Public Partnerships (PPP’s), usually between State Owned Enterprises and the Private Sector.
However AfricanIcon is finding the greatest opportunities within the privately held Universities that are rapidly expanding across the Continent.
Huff added, “A University may own land, but not necessarily have the expertise to construct and manage student housing projects.
AfricanIcon will take this on, without the University having to outlay any capital, we will then transfer the accommodation back to the University after an agreed period.”
AfricanIcon has focused its expansion on five geographies across the continent. Its primary focus currently, is to ensure that its treasury function within the business matches its pipeline.
“We are constantly looking towards the Development Funding Institutions (DFIs) and other commercial lenders internationally to assist with our growth.
We believe that because we straddle affordable housing, education and Africa, we should provide a logical catchment area for this capital. Of course this is a commercial venture, with yields and returns being germane to measure our success, however we also happen to be making a discernible difference to the education of Africa’s Youth. This for us is most important,”Huff said.