Appetite of investors, prospective homeowners soars for Alaro City — Odunayo Ojo, CEO

Appetite for Alaro City, the new mixed-income city being built at the Lekki Free Zone (LFZ), has remained strong as investors and prospective homeowners have continued to turn to a development that has been widely hailed as the next phase of Lagos.

Alaro City, launched in January, is planned as a 2,000-hectare integrated mixed-use, city-scale development with industrial and logistics locations, complemented by offices, homes, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, entertainment and 150 hectares of parks and open spaces.

The project, more than twice the size of Victoria Island, is a joint venture between the Lagos State Government and Africa’s largest new city builder, Rendeavour.

The phase one of its residential plots has already been sold out; and the phase two sales are ongoing, the company announced in a recent statement. Businesses are also taking advantage of the mixed-use characteristics of the new city going by the several facilities under construction at the site. More than ten businesses, spanning across national and multinational firms, are currently investing in the city.

According to Odunayo Ojo, CEO of Alaro City, the new city, located in the North West Quadrant of the LFZ, lies in the growth path of Lagos and aims to serve as a model for what a modern mixed-use city looks like. “We expected high uptake of the plots, but the rate at which they sold out has been exceptional.

“Alaro City is situated in a prime location in the Lekki Free Zone, making it one of the most exciting development projects to come to Lagos State. The location and exclusive benefits have undoubtedly been key selling points for buyers,” Ojo said.

Another key attraction, according to him, is the pedigree of the city’s developers. Rendeavour, seen as the biggest new city builder in Africa, is currently building seven new cities in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“As a master developer, Rendeavour invests over $250 million in each project, creating the infrastructure and living and working spaces that will help sustain and accelerate Africa’s economic growth, meet the aspirations of Africa’s burgeoning middle classes, and serve as a catalyst for further urban development,” said Stephen Jennings, the founder and CEO of Rendeavour.

Real estate and tax experts say the city is also attracting investors as a result of the fact that it is in a tax-free zone within an axis that has become one of the highest appreciating real estate areas in the country.

“The Lekki-axis has been a key driver in residential real estate over recent years,” said Gbenga Olaniyan, Chairman of Estate Links Limited, a leading real estate consultancy. “Alaro City offers a unique and valued investment proposition that the market clearly recognises. As with any real estate investment, the real trick is to key in early,” Jennings.

Businesses in the LFZ are exempt from all federal, state and local government taxes, levies and rates while operating in the zone. Some of these taxes include: Value Added Tax (VAT), Withholding Tax (WHT), Company Income Tax and Custom/Import Duties. This has also been identified as a magnet for investors in Alaro City.

“These investors are attracted by, among other things, the tax breaks available with operating in a free trade zone. For your company to be operating in that territory, you have a significant rebate in taxes; and that’s a conservative way of putting it. You have zero to no income taxes; you have no transactions taxes; and so on.

“Then on the regulatory side, you are not dealing with multiple regulators; you are dealing with one regulator, which is the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), who then organises all the relevant regulators under one umbrella so that you have only one port of call for all regulatory matters which significantly reduces your compliant costs,” said Bidemi Olumide, Partner and CEO of Taxaide, a tax management firm.

The residential plot appetite can also be tied to this as home builders will benefit from the advantages of building in a free zone; benefits which include and cheaper construction costs resulting from tax and duty incentives. “Residents within the LFZ will also benefit from a single regulatory body that manages levies. Businesses producing and selling within free trade zones enjoy significantly less operational costs,” said Mr Olumide.

The LFZ, spanning across 16,500 hectares and widely acclaimed as the most ambitious project in Lagos State, has received remarkable attention this year; partly due to the several milestones celebrated by major investors in the zone in the past few months.

One of the biggest investors in the zone is Dangote Group, which is building a petroleum refinery, a fertilizer processing plant, a gas pipeline project and a petro-chemical plant in the South East Quadrant of the zone.

Alaro City, in the Lekki Free Zone, is an inclusive mixed-use, city-scale development with master-planned areas for offices, logistics and warehousing, homes, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, entertainment and 150 hectares of parks and open spaces.

Rendeavour and Lagos State Government, through their subsidiary, North West Quadrant Development Company (NWQDC), have planned Alaro City as a 2,000-hectare, market-led project. NWQDC is authorised by both the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, and the Lagos State Government as an entity to develop, operate, administer and manage Alaro City as a Free Zone.