Greenfield Assets Limited, in partnership with the Abia State government is currently developing the first purpose-built Smart Mall in the world and the largest Mall in Africa – Aba Mega Mall. The N50 billion ($260 million) project is driven by the company’s belief in the African potential, and in Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as a panacea for rapid development in Africa.
Sitting on a 280,000 square meter space in Osisioma Ngwa LGA of Abia State, Nigeria, the Aba Mega Mall will be one of the largest in the world. The Ultra-Modern Trade and Distribution Centre will comprise of 5,830 shops, with amenities such as 24 hours power supply, Water & Waste Management, Banks, Game Arcades, Petrol Station, Cinema, Climate Controlled Warehouse, Bus Shuttle etc., all managed and maintained by world class Facility Managers.
These facilities are connected to an e-commerce hub to enable physical and online visitors fast access to information and services for business activities without being physically present in the mall. As stated on it’s website, the Smart Mall concept is all about harnessing the potential of technology to enhance leisure, shopping and business efficiency. This will ultimately translate into better use of resources, less impact on the environment, a more interactive and responsive administration, as well as a safer shopping and business experience.
The mall will no doubt boost commerce in Nigeria; expanding economic activities in the south-east and south-south region of the country. As Managing Director of Greenfield Assets, Paul Obanua, told Vanguard, “the Mega Mall project is geared towards creating a commercial hub for the entire eastern and south-south regions of the country, designed to stimulate the urban renewal of Aba city, by providing a structured facility where trading and other commercial activities can be done in an orderly manner. This project attempts to sanitise the city by giving the people of Aba a dignified trading centre, which from a survey conducted by us, the traders and dwellers in the city are eager to have operational.
Nigeria’s economic growth is partly dependent on the availability of functional commercial infrastructures like the Aba Mega Mall, Palms Shopping Mall, Ikeja City Mall, and a host of others that converge to provide a healthy environment for the free flow of goods and services across the country. Such infrastructures are at the forefront of the expanding retail market in the country, and are key elements in diversifying the opportunities which can bring about shared growth.
“Infrastructure is the cornerstone of the African economy and it is crucial for African governments to step up their investment in this sector if poverty is to be eliminated in Africa. Africa has undergone fundamental changes over the last decade which in turn has fuelled demand for infrastructure services including energy, transportation, ICT, water supply, growing agriculture and urban infrastructure,” as stated by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
The idea of public-private partnership (PPPs) is fast becoming a debate of interest in the world, especially in developing countries. In most developing countries, the government alone cannot afford provision of standard infrastructures needed for the economic development, hence the call for the intervention of the private sector. Private owned companies like Greenfield Assets Limited, in partnership with the government, play a significant role in the reduction of infrastructural development problem for sustainable growth.
When asked whether or not PPP would enhance development in Nigeria, Paul Obanua said that it would, but that the government should always fulfil their end of the bargain by keeping to agreements. “The government alone does not have the money and all other resources to develop the country …. Hence governments across the country should do everything possible to encourage private investors and keep to PPP agreements.”
According to reports by The Sun, mega malls led Nigeria to a retail revolution in 2014. The increase of shopping malls helped redefine consumers’ lifestyle in the areas where they are established. The Aba Mega Mall project shows there’s no end to the surge in the growth of the county’s retail sector.
Nigeria represents one of the largest opportunities for the Africa’s retail sector, owing to its huge consumer market and increasingly urbanised population base. In an interview with BusinessDay, Japie Swart, Chief Operating Officer of Resilient Africa, said “the potential of this market is unlimited and it is relatively immature. We see big international retailers coming here in the next two to three years. I think Africa is the flavour of the moment and it is only natural for international investors to migrate to the continent.”
The Aba Mega Mall is not the only commercial infrastructural project to be launched in Nigeria this year, the Delta City Mall located at Effurun, Delta State, is expected to open in March 2015. The mall is said to occupy 14,000 square metres gross lettable area, with 65 individual shops.