Accra Mall - Ghana joins the retail revolution

Posted On Wednesday, 16 August 2006 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Construction has commenced on one of the largest and most modern shopping malls in West Africa.  The 20 000m2 GLA Accra Mall will be the first modern shopping centre in Ghana and will be comparable to other similar sized shopping centres anywhere in the world.

Franc Brugman

Johannesburg based Bentel Associates International (BAI), internationally recognised and award-winning retail design experts, have designed this pioneering retail venture.

Over the past ten years, consumer demand for convenience and quality has grown considerably and modern retail has been expanding at a very fast pace in the emerging markets.  Although some critics have questioned the impact of modern retail growth on emerging economies, it is generally considered beneficial as it produces a myriad of positive benefits that far outweigh any perceived disadvantages.  A growth in the retail industry has been a catalyst for job creation, the reduction of protectionism, infrastructural improvements, improved standards of living, competitive advantages and economic growth.   

The Ghanaian economy has been growing at an average of five percent per annum for the last eight years.  The country is frequently regarded as a model developing country; positive economic benefits have been a consequence of democratic rule, good governance, socio-economic reform, growth strategies and efforts to control corruption.  A growing economy and a commercial boom have resulted in unprecedented retail growth.

Ghana has a total population of 20 million people, 35% of which is now urbanised.  One million live in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.  Accra is a city with very few buildings over two storeys high and up until now, goods have been provided via a multitude of street sellers and strip shopping environments.

A growing middle class with disposable income has created a substantial demand for consumer goods.  Researchers have found that people all over the world are surprisingly similar in their shopping patterns and habits and the A-grade Accra retail development is expected to raise living standards by providing food and products as well as leisure facilities in a safe and congenial shopping environment.  Ghanaians will be able to enjoy the goods and services widely available elsewhere in the world.

“In many African countries, open-air markets with stalls and shops have always been the norm, we are now at a stage where shopping malls are becoming the norm,” says Franc Brugman, BAI project director in Accra.  Brugman and his team were also responsible for the recently opened Lagos palms in Lagos Nigeria - a world-class shopping facility and the first of its kind in Nigeria.  “Consumer demand has created a trend toward formalised shopping centres with anchor tenants and many national retailers.  Accra Mall will provide urban Ghanaians with their first modern shopping experience.  Individuals want to shop in a better atmosphere and they will enjoy the variety and choice that a large shopping centre can provide.  Retail is becoming more professional and there are many benefits for developers, tenants and the consumer.”

The developers of the Accra mall are the Johannesburg based Actis; the management arm of CDC Capital Partners, a leading private equity investor in emerging markets.  Actis has been involved in a number of developments in other African countries including the Lagos Palms. The development in Ghana has been undertaken with the assistance of a Ghanian partner. The development company for the Accra project is Inter City Hotels.

The multi-purpose mall will be constructed along the Spintex Road near the Tetteh Quashie Round About in Accra.  Due to the fall of the site, the centre has a lower level showroom area facing directly onto Spintex Road, whilst the main retail floor above is served by two modern entrances off a paved parking area.  The second level, off the food court situated centrally to the design, houses a cinema complex.

The design of the mall is contemporary in all aspects.  “The challenge of developing a centre such as this one is massive,” says Brugman.  “The local economy cannot support the myriad design specifications required and as such all details and designs have to be carefully thought through to ensure that not only are costs carefully controlled, but that the procurement and delivery to site of all construction materials from around the world is carefully managed.  Wherever possible the architects have tried to utilise local building materials, technology and suppliers to the best architectural effect.  However, the balance of materials are all imported from countries as far afield as Egypt, Italy and South Africa”

Brugman says that part of the challenge is that this is the biggest and first project of its type in Ghana.  “Very few other buildings in the country will come close to the finishes or architecture of in the new centre.  Finding contractors qualified to do the work took some effort.  Supplies are also a challenge.  Except for sand and cement, the building materials will have to be imported.  Very little is produced locally, and what is available is often not to international standards.”

One of the unusual aspects here is that architects in the developed world would never have to consider the incorporation of a sewage plant into the design.  The centre will boast its own water treatment facility for all waste water as well as backup generator power sufficient to ensure the continued operation of the centre should a power failure occur.  Also interesting to note is that the centre is located in an earthquake zone and as such, the engineers have had to ensure detailed design encompasses all earthquake zone requirements.

Maintenance of the building is also an important factor and as such all mechanical and electrical requirements to the centre have been designed to be as energy and maintenance efficient as possible.

Brugman and his team, with their recent experience in Lagos, are no newcomers to designing retail facilities in Africa, but as each country has its own peculiarities they had to become fully acquainted with the complexities of the local retail market which is dominated by a growing middle class in this increasingly affluent country. 

The mall, with 19 700m2 retail space, will accommodate retail, food and service outlets ranging in size between 60m2 - 800m2, (excluding the anchors) and an 800-space car park.  Broll Nigeria has secured the contract to provide property management services.

Two South African retailers, Game and Shoprite checkers, will be the anchor tenants with a third, an entertainment anchor, to be confirmed shortly.  “This ultra-modern shopping centre will have an upmarket and relaxing ambience where shoppers will be spoilt for choice,” says Brugman.  “The design includes an open Food Court square where restaurants and fast food retailers will form the central entertainment hub of the development.  The spacious parking, including an underground parking area, will ease potential traffic congestion in the surrounding area and hopefully form a shopping experience of convenience, comfort and choice.”

The design incorporates traditional internal mall circulation with several interesting vistas onto the dynamic food court, open skylights and modern flush plastered ceiling and tiled floors.  “This will be an A-grade retail venue,” says Brugman, “with top quality finishes equal to those in the United States and Europe.  State-of-the-art air-conditioning, fire protection systems and security will ensure that this centre will be world-class.  A best-practice approach has been utilised in all aspects of the design, which includes porcelain tiles and aluminium and glass shop fronts and superb interior and exterior lighting.

Most of the design is being done in South Africa where Brugman and his team spend a lot of time on the technical documentation before beginning work at the site, ensuring that the drawings are accurate and advanced.  The model utilised by the client is that in all instances, consultants have a joint venture partner in Ghana who are responsible for on-site conditions.  The South African based consultants then fly up as often as possible to ensure a smooth flow of information and on-site construction.  An on-site Project Manager ensures that the client and consultants have a dedicated representative present at all times.  With modern technology, and with an on-site email system and printer, design drawings produced in Johannesburg can be issued immediately and directly to the site as they are completed or required.

BAI are at the forefront of retail design and development in Africa.  The challenges are substantial but as Brugman says, “Our team really achieve a sense of accomplishment when our designs are implemented and construction is complete.  We look forward to April 2007 when the Accra Mall is expected to open and trust that our expertise in retail design will enhance the lives of the population of Accra and further afield.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 11:20

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