BRIGHT SKIES AHEAD

Nigeria 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Eko Development is focused on continually developing innovative and cost-effective solutions to sustainably service Lagos for generations to come.

Ronald Chagoury Jr.
BIOGRAPHY

Ronald Chagoury Jr. is Vice Chairman of Eko Atlantic. He has been actively involved in Eko Atlantic since the start of land reclamation in 2008. As a board member, he was responsible for developing the early stages of the project as well as promoting the concept and development of Eko Atlantic at both the regional and international level. He is a driving force behind some of the city's key developments. He is also responsible for directing marketing and communications strategy. In addition, he supports group efforts to build strategic partnerships with developers and financiers aimed at creating SPVs for landmark developments within the project development area.

What updates to the Eko Atlantic project have there been in the last year?
Over the past year, Eko Atlantic has progressed substantially. We have real estate developments being completed by our clients and also have clients who have submitted plans for future construction. There are buildings breaking ground for construction in 2020, and several buildings are currently in the final approval processes for development. We are also proud that this past year, while working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), we have been able to achieve Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification for one of our client's existing developments. As Eko Atlantic infrastructure is already operational, residents and businesses alike have taken occupancy. The city has further become an attractive option for corporations to establish their headquarters, and developers to conduct due diligence for future development. Since Eko Atlantic is a free zone, our goal is to become a financial and commercial free zone and a financial center for sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, we intend to establish Eko Atlantic City as a major tourist attraction in Lagos and Nigeria. In the coming year, we will open our marina, which will be pedestrian-friendly and surrounded by shops and restaurants. The first restaurant in Eko Atlantic City opened over a year ago, and the second restaurant launched in December 2019. All these are important milestones for us

How do you contribute to local content, particularly through job creation for the Nigerian population and indigenous companies?
We are an indigenous company, and most of the engineering works are executed in-house or by contracting companies, which are all Nigerian. It is our strict policy to manufacture or procure as many of our supplies as possible from within Nigeria. We heavily push for local content. Consequently, we are able to maintain high standards while maintaining a cost-effective basis as we build this city.

Since the beginning of 2018, what challenges have you encountered with the project?
The country is emerging from an economic recession, resulting in a general slowdown in the real estate industry. The upward trajectory we are witnessing is a reflection of the growing demand for business-friendly infrastructure in terms of high-quality offices, housing, entertainment, hospitality, hotels, hospitals, and schools. Naturally, we are experiencing strong interest in these sectors within the city due to the numerous advantages it has to offer. Nevertheless, after a prolonged recession, we are experiencing a real estate market committed to making up for lost time. Eko Atlantic City is an infrastructure project developed to provide modern and efficient infrastructure facilities while simultaneously combating coastal erosion. Already established within the city is a considerable portion of the infrastructure network including the road network, water distribution, wastewater treatment, fiber optic network, and electrical distribution. We are constantly developing innovative and cost-effective solutions to sustainably service our city for generations to come.

What are your key priorities for 2020 with the Eko Atlantic project?
We are focused on developing Eko Atlantic City as a green city. One way we're achieving this is by working with IFC, which has an EDGE certification. This certification helps developers identify cost-effective ways to reduce the resource, energy, and water consumption needs for their buildings and, at the same time, lower their overall carbon footprint. By encouraging our developers to work with environmentally friendly materials and utilize energy-efficient designs, we will have a higher percentage of green buildings within Eko Atlantic, which could become a new benchmark for city building around the world. Therefore, Lagos and Nigeria, through adopting EDGE certification and international standards for developments in Eko Atlantic City, are joining the world in creating a green new city. This is our ambition.