Driving Urban Transformation: Africa’s Influential City Owners

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 The world is evolving, and urbanisation is on the increase. As such, there is a growing need for more development across cities. But the cities aren’t just developing for that sake; rather, the world is focusing on the development of smart cities.


With Africa being the second most populous continent in the world and a projection of having half of its population live in the city by 2035, the continent has also embraced the smart city initiative, which harnesses the power of technology to provide a conducive environment for the people.


As much as governments across Africa are at the forefront of enabling the smart cities idea, the private sector is seen to be playing a huge role in the actualization of the initiative because, across various countries of Africa, there are various smart cities owned and developed by private individuals and groups.


In this write-up, we bring to you some of the private individuals and groups who own or are known as the initiators of smart cities across Africa.


1. The Chagoury Group


The Chagoury Group, founded by Nigerian-Lebanese brothers Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury, are developers of the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, Nigeria, which is a public-private partnership between the Chagoury Group and the Lagos State Government.


The $6 billion privately funded Eko Atlantic project, which is still under construction in the coastal Victoria Island area of Lagos, kicked off in 2009 with land reclamation from the Atlantic Ocean.


Aside from real estate, the Chagoury Group has vast investments and interests in other areas such as construction, hospitality, and insurance, among others, and is said to be worth $4.2 billion as of 2023, according to Forbes.


2. Douw Steyn


South African billionaire Douw Steyn is an insurance magnate and owner of one of the most luxurious residential megacities in South Africa, Steyn City, which currently houses thousands of Johannesburg residents.


Steyn City is a community of 2,200 acres with high-end residential units, private hospitals, schools, a golf course, an equestrian centre, and 2,000 acres of parkland, all enclosed within a three-metre-high perimetre wall.


The owner, Steyn, who ranks among Africa’s wealthiest individuals, is the founder of BGL Group, a UK-based insurance and financial services company with offices in South Africa and Australia and the parent company of Comparethemarket.com, renowned for its successful TV advertisements.


Steyn is noted for his ambitious real estate projects, and his fortune, based on the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List, is estimated at $3 billion.


3. Talaat Mostafa Group Holding


This group majority owned by Egyptian Talaat Mostafa and the Saudi Bin Laden families has made remarkable impacts in Egypt’s real estate industry.


Headed by Talaat Mostafa, a prominent businessman and politician, the group owns Madinaty City, located in New Cairo satellite city, in the Eastern Area of Cairo, Egypt, which is one of the first fully integrated communities in Egypt and stands out as a beacon of modern and contemporary living.


Mostafa is renowned in the real estate sector for having pioneered several developments, including the creation of the city of “Al-Rahab,” Egypt’s first integrated residential city, which transformed the desert landscape into a thriving community complete with essential amenities and services.


Under Moustafa’s leadership, the Talaat Moustafa Group emerged as the largest shareholder in Egypt’s private real estate market.



4. Yassin Mansour


Yassin Mansour is the owner of Palm Hills Developments, the initiator of Badya city in Egypt, known as the creative city with a unique concept that sprawls over 3000 acres of land.


Mansour is a well-known businessman and former board member of the Al Ahly Club of Egypt.


With several projects spanning across Cairo and the Red Sea, Palm Hills Developments has a reputation for superb international development standards, making it a pioneer developer in the Egyptian real estate market.


Palm Hills Developments was one of the first real estate investment and development companies to get listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange in 2006.



5. Bright Owusu-Amofah


Bright Owusu-Amofah is the brain behind Appolonia City, located in Takoradi and on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana.


According to Owusu-Amofah, the projects were intended to help reduce traffic and congestion in the capital city, Accra, as well as build a community where everything is located in one place.


Mr. Owusu-Amofah has a certificate in the Real Estate Management Programme from the Harvard Business School.


Before then, he sojourned in the financial sector, where he was a senior analyst at Black Star Advisors and worked in various roles in investment banking as well as in the financial services sector of Barclaycard in the UK as an accounts manager.


His city developments are regarded as the biggest in Ghana by the private sector at the moment.


6. The Kenyatta family


This is the family of two former presidents of Kenya. The father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first Kenyan president between 1964 and 1978, while the son, Uhuru Kenyatta, served as the fourth president between 2013 and 2022.


The Kenyatta family is undertaking an ambitious real estate project named Northland City that will result in an 11,000-acre mixed-use smart estate comprising residential, industrial, and commercial units hosting about 250,000 people.


The investment, estimated to cost Sh500 billion, is located in Ruiru, about 15 kilometres from the Nairobi city centre.


The billionaire Kenyatta family, which is recognised as Kenya’s largest landholders, is one of Kenya’s wealthiest families, strengthened by their extensive land holdings and diverse investment portfolio.


7. Hawkwood Properties


The Zambia-based specialist fund manager is the initiator of La Cité du Fleuve, also known as River City, which is a well-planned neighbourhood in Kinshasha in the Democratic Republic of the Congo built on land reclaimed from the Congo River.


8. The Medine Group


Recognised as one of Mauritius’s economic players, the Medine Group is the brain behind Uniciti, which is designed to combine the key components of a quality city life that can ensure overall sustainability in all spheres of life.


Launched in September 2017, Uniciti promotes the concept of ‘Live, Work, Enjoy, and Learn’ and is now emerging as one of Mauritius’s most ambitious projects, reinvigorating the west of the country.


Its creator, the Medine Group, incorporated over 90 years ago, is currently stepping towards new horizons by deploying its new corporate strategy, which consists of developing three strategic areas: agriculture, property, and leisure.


Medine Ltd. is listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius among the country’s top 75 economic players.


9. Rendeavour


Rendeavour is Africa’s largest new city builder, with a team of highly experienced personnel who draw on decades of experience in Africa and other emerging markets.


It is the initiator of Tatu City, in the northern area of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, as well as the developer in charge of Alaro City, located in the Lekki Free Trade Zone area of Epe, in Lagos State, Nigeria, which is a joint venture between it and the Lagos State government.


The developer has delivered on large-scale residential and commercial projects on over 30,000 acres of land in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Congo. Its projects are unique, with highly integrated and contemporary facilities.


10. Attacq Limited.


Attacq Limited is the developer of Waterfalls City in South Africa. It is a leading real estate investment trust with an award-winning property portfolio of over R28 billion in total assets.


Waterfall City, still under construction, has over 1.6 million square metres of gross leasable area to be developed for sustainable growth.

The idea of smart cities is good, and knowing that several of them are springing up across African countries makes it more interesting. However, the numbers are still minimal compared to the urban needs of the continent; hence, private individuals, corporate bodies, and governments need to show more commitment by raising more funds and engaging in more partnerships to ensure the actualization of adequate and modernised housing needs for the African people.

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