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Currently, 16% of Nigeria’s GDP is from retail. That is according to Ali Djire, who views the sector as one of the many new frontiers that is rapidly growing and ripe for investment by both local and international investors.

That will be the main topic for discussion at the upcoming West Africa Property Investment Summit (WAPI), a two-day event in Lagos, Nigeria to be held November 15-16, 2018. The summit will delve into matters Artificial Intelligence (AI), cutting-edge technology, and big data; and how the multi-billion dollar retail market in Nigeria could leverage on them.

The retail market in Nigeria has a lot of room for growth; especially when you consider how big a population the West African nation has yet a lot of investors salivating after this market, often miss to make their mark. That has mainly been attributed to missed or misjudged opportunity due to lack of relevant, actionable, and useful data.

Nigeria has a Robust Retail market

Ali Djire, the country head of Fraym and an emerging thought leader in the field, firmly believes that for a successful run in the retail market in Nigeria. One needs to embrace big data analysis using cutting-edge technology such as AI is the path to sustainable success.

Djire says anything other than that will see retail players in the market flop in the manner Nakumatt chains of supermarkets flopped. Failure to employ data, tech, and AI is what leads to players struggling with retail chains in new locations due to lack of critical consumer mix, steep competition, and lack of appreciation of data.

The need for a data-driven approach is becoming an imperative for retailers to not only inform what products to carry on the shelf, but also to get unprecedented insights into where to locate their stores, how to price based on ability to pay, and how to respond to competition,” said Djire.

The Retails Sector is a growing earner for Nigeria’s GDP

Currently, the retail market in Nigeria accounts for 16% of the country’s GDP. Thought leaders in the industry like Djire, firmly believe the retail sector is one of the new frontiers of growth for both local and international investors looking for some real ROI.

Jan Van Zyl, head of property development at Novare Equity Partners, a leading pan-African real estate development fund seem to share the same views:

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. Therefore, you cannot brand yourself as a sub-Saharan Fund and not have a presence in Nigeria,” said Van Zyl.

He further said that his fund is also looking for opportunities to enter the neighboring markets in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.

Though the Nigerian retail market has attracted a lot of investors, both locally and international. Experienced investors have come to appreciate the value of data, technology, and AI for exponential growth in this space. Otherwise, it will be a case of trial-and-error with serious loss of capital when things go south.

Novare Equity Partners’ $300 million Investment

We believe that we are at the right place, at the right time, and we have invested in four shopping centeres in Nigeria since 2010 with a book value in excess of $300 million,” said Van Zyl.

Novare Equity Partners is one of the bullish international funds in real estate across the African continent, and Van Zyl believe they are there in Nigeria for the long-term. However, he points at some tough times in the Nigerian economy over the last one year, when things were not going well, despite their best efforts. Though he is quick to point out that the tough economic times is not just unique to Nigeria but all emerging markets overall.

Political environment uncertainties over the Feb 2019 Elections

Combined with elections in February 2019, we find that many potential new entrants are waiting on the sidelines until the uncertainty surrounding an election period has settled. It is important to note that, such a cycle is not Nigeria-specific, but is experienced in most emerging markets throughout Africa and other continents.”

Van Zyl further points out to the trend of reducing the size of future shopping centers in the current market. As one of the ways, the market is recalibrating itself to cope with the current in the recession economy.

Kfir Rusin, the Managing Director of the WAPI Summit, believes that big data and cutting-edge technology are the key tools that could quicken the rather slow-paced recovery in the retail market post the recession period.

As a pioneer in their field, Fraym’s use of Geospatial data, AI, and Machine Learning technologies can provide actionable intelligence on communities down to one square kilometer across the country. This unique and relevant data has the potential to be a transformative catalyst to growth for the retail sector.”

Djire further adds that with the increasing use of data, most of the big players in the retail sector in Nigeria are recalibrating their approach.

We are actively working with global investment players, development organization, as well as local companies, to get actionable market insights. Through our data, we are seeing early signs of companies leveraging Fraym’s geospatial data platform to streamline their operations and retail strategy. We see a growing need for actionable data for companies to be able to make effective decisions,” said Djire

Rusin further interjects, “This year’s WAPI will provide a platform for the traditional retail sector to network and realize the real-world benefits of how relevant data and tech is essential to growing the formal retail sector.”

Djire stresses that WAPI will be a forum for engagement. As he puts it: “WAPI is the platform where the message of a data approach in retail could gain grounds. There is a unique opportunity to engage directly with decision-makers, demystify the concept of [geospatial] data, walk them through the idea of a data approach and how it could affect their business and bottom line. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to hear from them about the ways they think about the market, their business, and their consumers, to ensure that we’re all on the same wavelength.”

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