Uzo Oshogwe is the Managing Director/CEO of Afriland Properties Plc, a Real Estate company with a portfolio size of over N15 billion and one of the largest land banks in Nigeria.
We caught up with her to chat about her success and potential of the Real Estate Industry.
How have your experiences over the years molded and shaped you into the leader you are today?
My parents instilled in me some real core values that I hold very dear even to this day. “Treasuring one’s integrity over riches”. “The importance of hard work, getting things done and never giving up when things get tough”. These values have helped me along the way and into becoming the leader I am today. I have been blessed with the opportunity of working for some of the best organizations and with great people in my 25+years career. In business, you are as strong as your team, so I surround myself with great people and I learn from them every day. I have learnt over time that the perception people around you have of you is greater than your intent. It is important to manage each person in a unique way that brings out the best in them, encourage innovation and creativity whilst maintaining a professional and conducive work environment for all.
What is your most memorable quote and why?
“I am the basis of all wealth, the heritage of the wise, the thrifty and prudent. I am the poor man’s joy and comfort, the rich man’s prize, the silent partner of successful men. I am the solace of the widow, the comfort of old age, the cornerstone of security against misfortune and want. I am handed down to children, through generations, as a thing of greatest worth.While all things wither and decay, I survive. I grow and increase in value through countless days. My worth increases, never failing, never ceasing, time is my aid and population heaps up my gain. My possessors learn to believe in me; invariably they become envied. Yet I am so common that thousands, unthinkingly and unknowingly pass me by. I AM LAND….” By Lou Scott This is one of the reasons I am in the Real Estate Business.
New digital technologies and business models are seen to change value proposition dynamically in business today. How is the Nigerian Real Estate industry catching up with these new developments and digital disruption?
Professionals all around the world recognise digital disruption as a dynamic catalyst with the potential to transform businesses and improve productivity. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being built as a support system and things are moving at a very fast pace. A recent article published in the Harvard Business Review stated that AI systems and devices will soon recognize, interpret, process and simulate human emotions. Imagine a system having the ability to decode human emotions for market research and the race to decode customers’ emotions by many firms to enhance decision making. The Nigerian Real Estate sector is not an exception in this new development and digital disruption era. For instance, online search for sales and rentals of choice properties have evolved, almost fully replacing the traditional services of agent network. Online marketing of RE Products is interestingly interactive and is truly on another level. Disruptive technology opens up a lot of innovative and creative opportunities for everyone in the Real Estate (RE) value chain; Architects, Engineers, Surveyors, Marketers, etc.
A lot of challenges still exist that are peculiar to the Nigerian market, such as data availability and cumbersome land registration process. All these can be solved by taking advantage of digital evolution and the right technology.
Afriland Properties Plc. recently acquired, renovated and transformed the iconic Raymond House on Broad Street into a world-class office complex. Can you explain why this move was initiated?
The main objective for embarking on this renovation project is to trigger similar renovation projects in the area; to bring back life to the once vibrant Lagos Island Business District. As a business, Afriland Properties Plc. is in existence to deliver value to its stakeholders by bringing innovation to the fore. The acquisition was part of our effort to further enhance our commercial Real Estate portfolio. By deepening our investments in the office buildings category, we aim to deliver impressive value to our shareholders, even in these highly volatile market conditions.
Now known as Afriland Towers, we aim to deliver a robust return on investment, based primarily on rental income, and over time, capital gains on increased rental value from long term leases. Occupancy level is currently at 90% and will very quickly reach 100%.Afriland is committed to a sales and acquisition strategy which will bring maximum value to allstakeholders. The strategically-positioned building underwent extensive renovation using world-class materials and facilities, was transformed into the iconic Afriland Towers using Grade A Contractors and Consultants, working within budgeted cost and projected timelines. This initiative exemplifies Afriland’s tagline…Execution Perfected. Excellence Delivered.
The company reported a 233% increase in PAT for 2017 financial year. How were you able to achieve this phenomenal growth?
At Afriland, we maintain a forward-thinking, visionary mentality. During the 2017 financial year, despite the economic headwinds and market uncertainty, we strategically focused on our premium residential project, Afri-court, a fully detachable twin-duplex in Lekki Phase 1, and our middle-class lock up shops, Afri-shops. These yielded high returns due to the high quality of our products and aggressive marketing strategies and initiatives. All of our products and deliverables are strictlyguided by our core values, known as the 3 Es – Enterprise; Execution and Excellence.