3 HIGH-END PROJECTS IN 2019

Nigeria 2019 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ibrahim Ibrahim, Managing Director of Mikano Construction, on revenue sources, the Nigerian construction industry, and expectations for the year to come.

Where are your main operations and from where does most of your revenue come from?

Right now, we only have projects in Lagos and Ogun state. The idea of Mikano Construction came about in 2014 when I met with the chairman of Mikano International. I had been in Nigeria for around 22 years and had in my portfolio a lot of well-known infrastructure and building projects, he is a very well-known businessman and his company is one of the biggest in Nigeria and he wanted to invest into construction business in the country. We started the company and developed his own two private projects. Our first building was a luxury 23-flat building in ikeja, Lagos. After this, we built a high-end steel structure, which was unique for the time. We imported hot-dip galvanized steel from overseas and built a three-story building that had approximately 5,000sqm per floor. We were among the first to build steel structures high-end building, and it was a challenge because steel construction techniques are not well known in Nigeria. Steel is faster, more economical, and still allows for architectural creativity. When we succeeded here, the chairman decided to become even more ambitious. We started building a massive city in Ogun state consisting of eight warehouses of 7500m2 each built on a 120,000sqm of land as there was strong demand for high-end, secure warehouses in this area. These warehouses are the first of their kind in the country. They are extremely advanced structures. Our focus for now is the private sector and mainly our own private projects. There are a very few major government projects in the country right now, and we are keeping our foot in the door for these projects when things turn around.

What is the ratio of private sector to public sector projects?

Right now, it is 100% private, though our plans for the future are to reach 50-50, our company is prepared to handle mega government projects because we have the equipment, the know-how and the reputation. 2019 will be a great year, and we are waiting for government jobs to start picking up once again. Our chairman is also a Nigerian citizen, and he believes in making investments in this country. He has invested so far billions of naira in this country, and not everyone is as dedicated to the long-term economic development of Nigeria as we are. We want to have a large positive impact in the country. The government sees this and appreciates it, and this commitment will be rewarded when the time comes.

What projects are you working on now?

In Karameh City, we have been working on our warehouses project. When we first started to develop this project, the land was a swamp, and we had to bring a huge quantity of sand to put into the land just so to prepare it for the project. This project is on the border of Lagos State and Ogun State. We are at around 70%, and we have built the steel structures for all the warehouses. The roads up to the level of the stone base are finished. By the end of 2018 we will have reached the first handoff point, and in 1Q2019 the entire project will be handed over. We have street lighting, security lighting, and fencing across the entire complex as well as a reinforced safe house for security officers. We also have land on Queen's Drive in the lagoon, which is an excellent spot. We decided to build a structure right on the lagoon. The building will be eight floor of super luxury residential space. This residence will be truly iconic in Nigeria. We are trying to make this building our signature project that can serve as a model for the rest of the industry. This is a difficult task; however, we are extremely focused on creating the premier residential space in Nigeria.

What makes this project so special?

The size of the flats is truly unique; each flat is a minimum of 1,000sqm, and the duplexes are 1,400sqm. There are few neighbors as well, and there will be only 10 neighbors. There are jetties that allow residents to access their homes from the water. There are swimming pools, and a gym and a swimming pool on the top of the building. Our competitors are constructing 30-story towers that have the same facilities we have for only 10 apartments. The access to the lagoon is a true game changer, and the ability to come home via the water will be revolutionary. These are mini villas essentially, and this is not present in Nigeria. Additionally, there are many gardens and green spaces throughout the complex.

What other projects do you currently have?

We have a third project that will begin soon, and it will begin by the end of 2018. It will have commercial and residential spaces. On top of this, we will have restaurants, entertainment spaces and other rooftop facilities. This is an extremely well-known area in Adeola Odeku street, and anyone coming to this area knows what to expect. We are creating the full package in this project, and it will be another signature project for Mikano. There will be nothing else like it in Lagos, and it will serve as the best example of what we can bring to the country. The project should be completed within the next two years.

How do you assess the construction industry in Nigeria today?

For the past two years, the value of the naira has been stable. Many investors left Nigeria due to the severe volatility, and the stability has made people confident again. There has been a commensurate improvement in the broader construction industry as well. However, we need more improvement. This country is filled with opportunities, though we really need to focus on unleashing the nation's potential. This is one of the richest nations in Africa, and we need to work to emphasize all the attributes that make us so great. We are so close to realizing all our potential. I am really delighted by Nigerians these days. We are constantly reducing the number of expatriates we employ, because Nigerian human capital is so developed. Nigerians are educated and worldly, and they return home to make a difference in their country. We are dedicated to utilizing this skilled population because this is the way forward for the country. The industry and the country are built on the backs of Nigerians.

What do you expect from 2019?

In 2019, we will have three high-end projects come to fruition. This will allow Nigerians to understand the true difference between what we build and what exists in the market currently. We want to see something special in 2019, and we want our name to be attached to projects that are visionary and unique. I hope to see these projects transform the industry in Nigeria.