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Office market activity in Africa up by 29 pc in 3 months – Knight Frank

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27- New office space requirements in Africa increased by 29percent in the second quarter of 2021, data by Knight Frank has revealed highlighting improved business confidence and economic outlook across most of the countries.

Knight Frank further attributed the rise to a  ‘flight to quality trend among businesses seeking to occupy office spaces that place employee wellbeing at the forefront.

The data indicated that the share of new office space requirements across the nine countries they are located in (Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa) was dominated by Professional Services (29 percent), Industrial & Logistics (16 percent), Financial Services (14 percent ), Healthcare (12 percent) and NGOs (8 percent).

The four sectors accounted for almost 80 percent of new office space requirements across Africa in Q2.

The findings reflect a similar finding which noted that most firms that had previously put office requirements on hold due to the pandemic were reactivating their searches with landlords becoming more flexible by allowing for discounted rents and lease concessions such as increased rent-free periods in a bid to attract and retain tenants.

Senior Researcher Knight Frank Africa Tilda Mwai said that “the overarching trend across Africa’s office market is the continued flight to quality. Occupiers remain focused on occupying best-in-class offices that offer greater flexibility around lease terms.”

Across the 28 African cities Knight Frank monitors, prime headline office rents remained relatively resilient with 16 out of the 28 cities tracked experiencing rental stability during the review period.

“However, market performance continues to vary based on the country. In Nairobi for example, prime office rents dropped marginally by 1percent due to lockdown restrictions imposed at the onset of Q2 2021,” it added.

In addition, markets such as Western Cape and Gauteng in South Africa continue to see increased vacancy rates and downward pressure on prime rents, prompting landlords to offer incentives and discounts.

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Notably, Nigeria recorded increased occupier activity in the market driven by office relocations from the CBD to the suburbs, as occupiers gravitated to locations offering both better quality accommodation, as well as more affordable lease rates.

Furthermore, occupier activity in locations such as Tanzania is expected to recover underpinned by renewed investor confidence fuelled by the new leadership.

Nairobi has continued to see a gradual return in business confidence reflected by the increased number of business entities registered.

According to the registrar of companies, there was a 25percent month on month change with 8,483 companies registered in July 2021 compared to 6,786 companies registered in June 2021.

Knight Frank anticipates this will result in increased demand for offices later in the year.

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