With a rapidly developing economy, emerging technologies and a booming population, Africa’s retail landscape is changing for the better. Here, RLI takes a look at some of the emerging trends that are shaping the future of African retail and highlights some of the major projects recently completed and some of the major developments due to finish in the coming months.

With the fastest rate of urbanisation in the world, Africa has more than 40 per cent of its population currently living in urban centres. By 2030, Africa’s 18 largest cities will have a combined spending power of $1.3tn and the country will have as many cities with one million inhabitants as North America. Africa is on track to become the continent with the world’s youngest population. Approximately 70 per cent of Africans are presently under the age of 30 and youth account for around 20 per cent of the population. 53 per cent of African income earners are between 16 – 34 years old, which is an age group known for their awareness of and eagerness to consume new products.

A country with a growing population and larger cities is translating into a large opportunity for retail. According to ‘Retail in Africa: Interesting Facts and Emerging Trends’ by Compliant IA, wholesale and retail are already the third largest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP. Kenya has seen a 54 per cent growth in its number of stores over the last five years while South Africa has almost 2,000 shopping malls covering over 24 million square metres. With a surge of investment in technology and infrastructure, Johannesburg is poised to become Africa’s hippest city. The newly revitalised neighbourhood of Maboneng boasts trendy restaurants, luxury hotels and galleries. The emerging middle-class consumer in Africa is becoming increasingly brand conscious and consumer spending is still mostly concentrated in the informal sector of roadside stalls and town markets. However, in East Africa there is already a discernible shift from informal to formal retail.

Research from Compliant IA shows that as retail moves from informal to formal, companies like Walmart and The Carrefour Group are expanding their reach across the continent. Walmart bought a 51 per cent stake in South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd. in 2010. Despite some setbacks and leadership changes, Walmart intends to expand the brand with 47 new stores between 2019 and 2021. The African Development Bank estimates there will be 2.1 trillion USD in consumer spending up for grabs by 2025. Services brands like food and beverage, telecom and banking should be paying attention. Opened in September last year by Indigo Property, Mall Of Sousse provides proof of being a player in another vision of commercial real estate to invent a new experience for consumers in the Sousse region, and at the same time revitalise the development of an offer to the vanguard of new consumer trends in retail. Innovating and inventing new models to serve consumers is at the heart of this ambitious quest for a better future for the country.

The project is a full place for shopping experiences in indoor and outdoor leisure spaces, a landmark good living for the inhabitants of the area and tourists from the seaside town and the whole catchment. Castle Gate occupies a prime site adjacent to the N1, Van Ryneveld Ave and Solomon Mahlangu Dr. This central location features easy access to and superb visibility from all surrounding roads. The new road infrastructure upgrades will result in improved private and public transport in the area, benefiting all tenants in Castle Gate. The new precinct has been designed for optimal use by commercial, retail and residential tenants. Castle Gate is a truly world-class and modern multi-use development. Also being developed by Atterbury Property, this modern mixed-use development will feature 115,000sq m of offices, 90,000sq m of residential space with 1,100 units, 40,000sq m of space is set aside for a medical centre and there will be a Planet Fitness Gym and a hotel alongside the 23,000sq m of retail space. The retail element of the project is due to open on the 24 September.

Finally, Atterbury Property is developing Barlow Park occupies a prime site adjacent to the M1 dual carriageway and Katherine Street in Sandton. This central location features easy access to and superb visibility from both these roads. The new road infrastructure upgrades will result in improved private and public transport in the area, benefiting all tenants in Barlow Park. The new precinct has been designed for optimal use by commercial, retail and residential tenants. Barlow Park is a truly world-class and modern multi-use development. This ultra-modern mixed-use precinct development will consist of 55,000sq m of office space, 7,000sq m of convenience retail, 750 residential units and a hotel.

UK-based aLL Design has reportedly entered a partnership with Kiloran Development Group to build a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Named The Beacon, the mall will be situated on a site off the east of Uhuru Highway towards Bunyala Road, and is said to be the first project for aLL Design in Africa and the second shopping centre development for Kiloran. The mall will occupy 28,500m² of space and is expected to be completed in 2020. According to the company, the mall will be located between major employment zones, including the Central Business District, the Industrial Area and Upper Hill. The contents of the mall will be characterised by a ‘sweet factory’ theme with many details commissioned by local craftspeople and artisans as well as those using the latest manufactured materials and technology. The Beacon is intended to bring delight to locals and tourists; the vivid colours and striking patterns of the façade will hint at the amusements and leisure facilities inside.

A project by McCormick Property Development that is under construction is the Mall of Tembisa, which will be a regional shopping centre located in the sprawling township of Tembisa in Gauteng. The two-level retail development is expected to be completed in October 2020. The Mall is set to be built in the township’s most densely populated area as retail boom continues. The new 42,889sq m shopping centre is being undertaken in conjunction with KJA Developments. As specialists in low cost housing, KJA will add the high-density residential components to what will ultimately be a mixed-use development, including logistic and commercial developments. The Mall of Tembisa has been designed to take full advantage of its excellent visibility off the main road, without turning its back on the residential suburbs which surround it. The mall will bring quality retail facilities to an area which currently has little in the way of shopping amenities and the rights exist to expand the retail portion to 80,000sq m as demand dictates.

The Arch, which is being developed by Multiply Property Holdings, will cover 45,000sq m, including 163 apartments (30 of which will be loft apartments). The Umhlanga Arch in KwaZulu Natal is rapidly adding big name tenants including the Hilton Hotel Group and SMG BMW. The R1.3bn developed, characterised by an iconic sea-facing arch configuration and European-inspired high streets. The residential component of this upmarket mixed-use development offers smart-ready apartment and double volume lofts, while the office space is attracting much interest. Due to be completed in stages this year, it will not only be a good fit for international and local travellers, but will feed into the business hub of this bespoke, mixed-use development. It will offer a business centre, fitness hub, outdoor pool and various food and beverage outlets, including a garden and lounge bar.

The Morocco Mall Marrakech project was designed by DPA, a prestigious architectural firm from Singapore. The design was inspired from the surrounding geological and natural landscapes, made of luxuriant nature and inclined to leisure and relaxation. Morocco Mall Marrakech puts the customer experience at the heart of its architecture, offering a meticulous selection of shopping and dining, a clear orientation towards leisure and entertainment, and the city’s first showcase for luxury brands. At the forefront of trends, visitors of the Morocco Mall Marrakech will enjoy, with family or friends, a stimulating experience with indoor and outdoor paths, gardens, fountains, waterfalls and shops. The project is being developed by Aksal Group, will cover an area of 50,000sq m, be home to 190 stores and is currently scheduled to launch in 2021.

McCormick Property Development has also confirmed that it is all systems go on the much-anticipated Capital Mall, the R1.2bn mega development set to serve the entire Pretoria West region. The development of the iconic 60,000sq m GLA regional mall, which will bring over 3 000 employment opportunities to the surrounding communities, is ongoing. With direct access approved off both the N4 highway and WF Nkomo (Church) Street and situated on the planned N4/R55 interchange, the double level mall will anchor ‘Capital City’ – the R5bn mixed-use development. The development node includes a 150 bed private hospital, value retail centre, motor dealerships, affordable housing, student housing, schooling and community facilities. The development of the mall will be phased with 60 000sq m GLA planned to open towards the end of 2021. The design allows the mall to seamlessly expand to over 100,000sq m in time, without the need for structured parking facilities.

Construction of the Oceans Development has recommenced with an accelerated programme. The announcement comes after construction of the development stalled in October last year. The project worth R3.8 billion is the largest mixed used development in SA consisting of the Radisson Blu Hotel, a mall and 600 apartments. The 36,000sq m building will have 103 retail outlets and will incorporate 22 international iconic luxury fashion brands, 12 magnificent restaurants, a supercar dealership and the SA’s first snow-park. The presence of the iconic international brands, which are not currently available in any other malls in this region, will create a distinctive and defining feature called the Platinum Walk at Oceans Mall. This places the Mall among the top three exclusive malls in the country, alongside Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and Johannesburg’s Sandton City. Under development by Oceans Umhlanga, the project is due to launch this year, with the retail section opening in 2021.

Sonae Sierra, the international shopping centre specialist, in a partnership with Marjane, Al Futtaim and Société d’Amenagement de Zenata (Groupe CDG), is developing Zenata shopping centre, a €100M investment located in Mohammedia, Casablanca. With the second stage of the project currently under development, when fully completed the Zenata shopping centre will have 90,000sq m of Gross Lettable Area, with 250 shops served by approximately 3,650 parking spaces. The centre will have 18 anchor shops, including Ikea and Marjane hypermarket. The ongoing construction of Eko Atlantic is an entirely new coastal city being built on Victoria Island adjacent to Lagos, Nigeria. It is a focal point for investors capitalising on rich development growth based on massive demand – and a gateway to emerging markets of the continent. With an expected population of 300,000 residents in Eko Atlantic and 200,000 daily commuters, retailers operating within the city will enjoy the opportunity to serve this massive new market

Further, these newly built entertainment outlets, restaurants, and a variety of stores will attract customers from the nearby commercial centres of Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki. There will be 107,500sq m of net leasable area is dedicated to the Eko Atlantic Mall. It will be the largest shopping centre in the whole of West Africa. The mall will include a vast array of amenities and entertainment, with ample on-site parking, giving shoppers access to premium retail with abundant lifestyle options including department stores, kids’ entertainment, food courts and cinemas.