In the wake of skyrocketing costs of owning apartments following recent realities and the ravaging impact of the economic meltdown on business operations, Lagos based real estate firm, Shortlethomes, a subsidiary of Digital Landlords Nigeria Limited, has predicted over 75 per cent growth in short-lets occupancy rates for 2021 in the country.
The firm observed that while the hospitality and travel industry has taken an unprecedented hit in bookings, with a month on month decline in sales with majority of hosts experiencing close to zero per cent occupancy rates globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shortlethomes consistently maintained its services with a 75 per cent occupancy rate.
Speaking in Lagos, the Founder/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Mr. Keji Giwa said the market dynamics suggest a less competitive, untapped market gap and therefore more attractive investments in increasing Shortlethomes and apartments in locations such as Lekki, Victoria Island, Osapa London, Oniru, Ikoyi and Ikate where Nigerians in diaspora and the international community do business and visit for tourism.
Findings revealed that through short-term rental, landlords could make upwards of 20 per cent more than they would on a rent-controlled property, according to experts.
Giwa who also oversees Digital Landlords Nigeria noted that there has been an accelerated surge in booking requests and an increased demand for luxury homes away from home, which represents the slogan and brand of Shortlethomes.
“The brand aims to increase its short-let portfolio to accommodate the 98 per cent of extra booking opportunities the company was not able to fulfill in 2020 due to its limited number of properties. In that short space of time, the company has taken bookings from just 500 guests out of it’s 25,200 booking requests in a year due to a limited number of properties, accounting for only 1.98 per cent of total booking enquiries in a year.”
He added that by “acquiring 100 more short let apartments in Lagos, especially around the Lekki Phase one and Victoria Island / Ikoyi axis, not leaving out potential opportunities in Abuja, this drive should help meet the ever-increasing demands for our homes, giving Digital Landlords investors a healthy return on their investments for the next five years.”
According to him, in 2020, all existing Digital Landlords received a 17 per cent short let rental net income on all properties and are set to experience the same in 2021.
He said; “Compare this to local rental income rates of around 3-4 per cent in Nigeria, that’s a whopping 425 to 566 per cent difference in margins. Digital Landlords can expect to get back their return on investment in just 5.8years compared to 20-years for local rental income and then experience year on year profit after each consecutive year. This is the reason why Digital Landlords Nigeria limited will be investing heavily in improving the customer experience on all Shortlethomes digital platforms, taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence Chatbots to automate responses, creating a virtual agent to take bookings and deal with customer service issues 24-7.”
For him, opportunities are rife for the real estate boom that will continue for years to come, stressing that customer-centricity, operational efficiency, and technological advancement are the three core ways for industry to be at the front row of growth trajectory.
He noted that; “The ability to understand how digital technology can enhance every area of your business is key to performance. That is why if any company right now hasn’t gone through a digital transformation or initiated a digital transformation initiative, they’re basically becoming a dinosaur.”
P2P crypto marketplace, Bitzlato (BZ) partners with Lemonade Finance to ease money transfers across Africa
The partnership will enable users on the BZ platform to buy and sell bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies on the marketplace at zero cost.
Bitzlato (BZ), the latest P2P Crypto Exchange to enter the African market, has added Lemonade.Finance, a borderless payment platform for Africa, as a payment method to its platform.
Lemonade Finance provides 100% digital payment experience for Africans to seamlessly participate in the global economy from anywhere in the world without any hassle or regardless of where they are from.
The partnership will enable users on the BZ platform to buy and sell bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies on the marketplace at zero cost.
Users in Nigeria will now be able to send Nigerian Naira (NGN) to MPESA at 0% transaction fee.
Speaking about this partnership, Ridwan Olarere, CEO, Lemonade Finance, said:
“We are excited to partner with such an innovative company like Bitzlato to connect more Africans through payment. Many Africans living on the continent face many difficulties when making payments as remittance companies charge high fees and are time-consuming. We are now providing our users with a cost-effective way of sending money to Ghana, Kenya, Uk and Europe.”
Commenting on the opportunities this provides to crypto traders on the BZ platform, Mike Lunov, CEO, BZ, said:
“This partnership will provide a much-needed gateway that enables the markets we serve to seamlessly interact with each other in a borderless and open environment. We seek to break the barriers that presently exist for cross border transfers and enable our users to generate value through the opportunities that accrue from cryptocurrencies trading. The innovation exhibited by the Lemonade platform, and the brilliance of its team assures users of top-notch, secure and reliable transfers going forward.”
According to BZ, during the first month, BZ will refund commissions in manual mode while using Lemonade Finance, but this will be automated at the end of this period.
Following this partnership, BZ is now looking to partner with merchants in the crypto space especially in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa that have a steady flow of Nigerian Naira (NGN) to increase liquidity on the platform.
Take advantage of the new Lemonade Finance payment method on BZ, which offers zero transactional fees for money transfers from Nigeria into Kenya. Sign up on BZ and start trading crypto easily today.
Konga and the $10b target by 2026
Konga has strategically invested in building a world-class infrastructure from the ground up which has equally elevated its many offerings.
The Nigerian e-Commerce sector is a much-touted lucre that has attracted a number of players.
The growing interest is buoyed by the rise in a youthful population, growing smartphone and internet penetration, the aspirational mind-set of the average Nigerian and expanding consumer power. At present, e-Commerce spending in Nigeria is on the rise. Research estimates indicate that current spend on e-Commerce is at $12 billion, with the figure expected to rise higher and even projected to reach $75 billion in revenues per annum by 2025.
Despite the allure, the reality of cracking e-Commerce in Nigeria and in Africa, by extension, remains a task far removed from the exertions of the faint-hearted.
Indeed, making a success of e-Commerce, as the experience of many players who stumbled in Africa’s biggest market has shown, demands not only deep pockets but also a huge dose of street-smartness, a keen understanding of the Nigerian market, a determination to stick to ethics and play by the rules, as well as sheer bloody-mindedness in overcoming many of the frustrating infrastructural and institutional encumbrances that have hobbled many in this industry.
Till date, the strides of Konga remain a template for many to follow.
In tracking the current laudable strides of this e-Commerce behemoth, it is imperative to recognize and appreciate the efforts of many players who have toiled but found the Nigerian e-Commerce market too high a mountain to climb. The likes of Jiji, OLX, DealDey and Efritin, among many others, have a tale or two to tell about the hard nut that e-Commerce in Nigeria represents.
Though it also has a thing or two to share about the pitfalls of playing in a difficult terrain such as Nigeria, Konga has transformed itself, under the management of its new owners – the Zinox Group – into a much sought-after entity, the beautiful bride of potential e-Commerce investors and global stock markets. Recently, Konga was reported to have fielded interest from the New York Stock Exchange as well as the London Stock Exchange over a purported listing, as interest swirled in the company from near and far. Also, feelers in the industry indicate that many are looking to buy into the business and if Konga were to list its shares today, it would probably not only get oversubscribed but also result in a unicorn valuation.
The submission of a recent panel of experts on the Konga brand is worth recalling here, with Prof. Bouba Yankubah, one of the panellists, painting a picture of a thriving e-Commerce brand during the session which held in Accra, Ghana.
Prof. Yankubah was quoted as saying: ‘‘It is strange that not much has been said of how much impact Konga has had in the Nigerian, nay African e-Commerce ecosystem. But lest we forget, that is the brand that pioneered the marketplace structure in Africa which was widely replicated by other brands, not only in Africa but also by the likes of Amazon as well.
‘‘The…case of Konga as the jewel in the crown of African e-Commerce is further justified by its thriving business entities which include a licensed mobile bank, online travel agency, its omni-channel strategy, the ease with which it has resolved the thorny challenge of logistics as well as its hard-earned status as a trustworthy brand.
‘‘It is interesting that, despite the huge investment by its new owners, which from reports in the Nigerian media, are highly credible and experienced entrepreneurs, the brand is yet to follow through on rumoured intentions to list on the international stock market. If and when this happens, Konga’s valuation may exceed well over $2.5bn and we may see the emergence of a true African unicorn.
‘‘But I wish to urge the owners of Konga not to be tempted by greed and to stay true to their strategies and long-term vision for the business,’’ he had stated.
In my line of work as an analyst covering the African e-Commerce market, I have seen many promising e-Commerce start-ups flatter to deceive. Konga has stayed the course and currently enjoys the confidence of a growing number of Nigerians as the biggest player in the market.
But what is Konga doing right?
First, the management of Konga has demonstrated an extensive understanding of the market – an advantage that continues to help it navigate policy somersaults and other risks associated with the peculiar Nigerian market. This is mainly due to the experience of the current owners of Konga who are widely reported to be credible Nigerians who have been in business for over 30 successful years. Today, Konga is better equipped, more than any other e-Commerce player to take on and successfully deliver large projects or find a solution to the most difficult infrastructural challenge in Nigeria. Even if Amazon or Alibaba were to expand their operations to Nigeria, they would struggle to beat Konga and may have to settle for a partnership with them.
Two, Konga has strategically invested in building a world-class infrastructure from the ground up which has equally elevated its many offerings. In the area of technology, Konga boasts perhaps one of the most advanced technology suites in Nigeria, ranging from the multiplicity of apps driving its day-to-day operations and a reported robotics-enabled multiple warehouse deployments. Closely aligned to this is its investment in massive regional warehouses – a project that has conveniently positioned it to retain huge inventory, significantly boosted its carrying capacity, as well as its orders fulfilment capabilities.
In addition, one of the major advantages that Konga holds in its war chest is the fact that it has seemingly resolved the challenge of logistics – one of the biggest obstacles and pain-points of e-Commerce, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa, as well. Konga, I understand, has its own internally owned logistics company which, from reports in the media, has the capacity to handle deliveries to the last mile for Konga as well as for external parties. Kxpress, as the company is known, is said to have in its arsenal a growing fleet of trucks, buses, motorcycles and other vehicles which it puts to use in serving the market and navigating the traffic-challenged nooks and crannies of the major cities and hinterlands in Nigeria.
Furthermore, there is a sense that, with Konga, ethics can never be sacrificed on the altar of selfish gains. The travails of another well-known player in the industry further justifies the Konga hallmark of ethical rectitude. There is no place for cooking the books or falsifying figures to paint a deceptive picture to customers or potential investors. This is a quality that has put the business on a sound footing, especially in its dealings with all of its stakeholders.
Worth mentioning as well is the fact that Konga has remained an example of reliability and responsive customer experience. From the personal experiences of myself, professional colleagues, other industry acquaintances as well as the majority of opinions sampled, Konga stands heads and shoulders above its peers in terms of its approach to meeting the expectations of customers. There is zero tolerance for fake or substandard items on its platforms, with the company holding high its promise of making available only genuine products which it sources directly from manufacturers. Merchants who trade on its platform, by extension, also key into this tradition. Defaulters are blacklisted while issues are handled swiftly by an internal unit which has a deadline for resolutions.
Aligned with KongaPay, a Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed mobile money platform, a growing chain of brick-and-mortar stores dotting Nigeria’s landscape and accounting for the many who still wish to experience e-Commerce the traditional way; as well as a number of thriving entities under the Konga stable, there is no looking back for this powerful retail giant.
It is only a matter of time before the management of Konga caves into the huge pressure of hitting the global stock market.
The world awaits with bated breath…
Dr. Aje Boluwatife is a visiting research scholar from the United States
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