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UK 10-year government bond yield sinks to historic low

A cocktail of trade tensions and Brexit risks has driven UK bond yields to a record low, as investors ignore slightly stronger economic data to pile into haven assets.

UK debt was swept up in global rally on Monday morning, pushing 10-year gilt yields below 0.5 per cent. The yield has now dipped below its previous August 2016 trough, which came after the Bank of England slashed interest rates to an all-time low in the wake of the vote for Brexit.

The latest gains for government debt came as the weakening of the Chinese renminbi beyond the closely watched Rmb7 per dollar mark signalled a new phase in the US-China trade skirmish. Investors increasingly fear an all-out currency war with global central banks competitively cutting interest rates.

In Europe, UK government bonds led the gains, with the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit providing an extra boost.

“The UK faces an unhelpful combination of global risks and Brexit,” said David Page, senior economist at AXA Investment Managers. “There’s this continued speculation about an early election and the possibility that could be used to facilitate a no-deal Brexit.”

Investors have bought gilts recently as no-deal risks ratchet higher, on the assumption that leaving the EU without an agreement will hit the economy and force the Bank of England to cut interest rates in response. Traders are pricing in a 55 per cent chance of a rate reduction by December, ticking up slightly on Monday.

The moves came despite purchasing managers’ data from IHS Markit which showed the key services sector expanded faster than expected in July.

Mr Page said that UK government bonds would continue to look attractive to some investors despite record-low yields: “Ten-year yields are still about a percentage point higher than their German equivalent. By comparison to negative yields in Europe, any kind of positive yield looks good.”

World African Nations Risk Mortgaging Future for Today’s Consumption

The Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank Group, Mr Albert Zeufack, has expressed worry at the huge amount of money used by some African countries to service their debts.

In a press statement issued last Wednesday, the global lender said Africa’s poorest countries saw little to no progress on average in improving the quality of their policy and institutional frameworks in 2018, according to its annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA).

It noted that the average CPIA score in Africa’s 38 International Development Association (IDA)-eligible countries in 2018 remained unchanged at 3.1 on a scale of 0 to 6, with some areas of social policy seeing improvements while macroeconomic management weakened, adding that the rule of law, accountability and transparency, and the quality of public administration remained major areas that impede the efficient use of public resources across the region.

This year’s CPIA Africa report takes a closer look at debt management, as the median government debt-to-GDP ratio reached 54.9 percent of GDP in 2018, an 18.5 percentage-point increase since 2013. At the same time, the share of foreign currency bonds in total external debt increased by 10 percent while the shares of debt owed to commercial and non-Paris Club creditors rose by 5 percentage points since 2010, and sovereign bond issuances have increased rapidly.

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Mr Zeufack, who was quoted in the statement, stressed that, “Some African countries are at risk of mortgaging their people’s futures in favour of today’s consumption,” pointing out that, “When countries spend most of their revenue servicing debt, fewer resources are left for education, health, and critical services for their people. This stops progress in its tracks.”

Taken together, the increase in debt levels paired with the shift of external debt toward more market-based, more expensive, and riskier sources of finance have increased debt vulnerabilities substantially among IDA countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report recommends that countries improve their debt management capabilities and systems, which can enhance transparency and help stabilize the economy in the long-term.

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Rwanda continues to top the CPIA ratings both in Africa and around the globe with a score of 4.0, followed in the region by Cabo Verde (3.8) and Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda (all at 3.7). South Sudan remained the lowest-scoring country on the CPIA with a score of 1.5, the report said.

Fragile countries in Sub-Saharan Africa improved slightly in the areas of gender equality, human development, and environmental stability, which bodes well for their ability to tackle the drivers of conflict and exclusion. In fact, fragile countries in Africa saw stronger performance in social inclusion than fragile countries in other parts of the world. Non-fragile IDA countries in Africa performed on par with their global peers overall, with the notable exception of social inclusion policies, where they underperformed especially on the issue of gender equality, it added.

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“Improvements in social inclusion and service delivery have historically been crucial elements of countries’ transitions out of fragility, so even modest steps count,” said Gerard Kambou, Senior Economist and Lead Author of the CPIA report.

“African countries, fragile and non-fragile, need to keep the focus on gender, education, health, climate, and governance issues alongside macroeconomic management if they want to see true and lasting progress,” Kambou added.

The report recommends that Africa’s IDA countries accelerate business regulatory reforms to support private sector development and improve domestic revenue mobilization in addition to strengthening their debt management. The report team plans to hold discussions on this year’s results and recommendations in several African countries in September 2019.

HONG KONG INVESTORS SNAP UP AFFORDABLE PROPERTY IN MALAYSIA WITH AN EYE ON RETIREMENT

Homebuyers in Hong Kong are looking at Malaysian property as second homes and for retirement, with Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru garnering a lot of interest because of affordable prices amid a supply glut.

Terence Law, senior principal project director at Centaline Property Agency, said that more than half of the 21 units released on June 7 at a condominium project in Johor Bahru were snapped up within the weekend by buyers from Hong Kong. The units were priced from HK$787,331 (US$100,000) to HK$2.27 million.

Law said about 35 per cent of his clients were buying Malaysian property for retirement or as a second home.

According to data from the National Property Information Centre (Napic), the median cost for a house in the state of Johor is 350,000 ringgit (US$84,000). A 300 sq ft apartment in Hong Kong, much smaller than the average flat in Malaysia, would still cost six times more.
Malaysia’s southern state of Johor calls for property purchase restrictions by foreigners to be halved to bolster real estate sales

Compared to other Southeast Asian cities, property prices in Johor Bahru are “much lower”, Law said. He estimates they are roughly half the price of an average home in Bangkok and “about 20 times cheaper” than prime locations in neighbouring Singapore.

Melissa Lee, associate director of valuation and advisory services at Colliers International, said the cost of living in Johor remains among the lowest in the world.

“Particularly with the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme … it remains a target for retirees,” she said.

The MM2H is a government initiative that offers 10-year renewable visas to non-Malaysians in a bid to get foreigners to live in Malaysia. It allows visa holders to buy residential property that cost more than 1 million ringgit.

But prospects for price appreciation are weak because of an oversupply of residential units.

A DBS Bank research report on Malaysian property from January noted that price growth for the third quarter of 2018 had fallen to the lowest level since 2010, partly because of pressure from an “alarming” supply glut.

In 2018, about 32,000 residential units worth about 19.9 billion ringgit remained unsold across the country, almost a threefold increase over four years, according to Napic. Johor accounted for 6,066 unsold units, the largest among the states.

“Currently, the occupancy rate for high-rise apartments in Johor is about 50 per cent,” said Tan Ka Leong, director of property firm CBRE-WTW in Johor. “For newer high-rise apartment developments, present occupancy rate is estimated to be about 30 per cent or less.”

Tan said his estimates do not take into account any unsold units in Johor’s US$100 billion Forest City mega project, which is touted to house 700,000 residents when complete in 2035.

Multiple headwinds for Chinese property developers in Malaysia

Its Chinese developers Country Garden did not respond to queries on the number of units left unsold.

Vacancies in completed high-rise apartments were a result of a large number of developments in 2013 and 2014, leading to high supply in the past three years.

Malaysian authorities have frozen approvals for high-rise apartment development since end-2014, and analysts say that vacancy rates and house prices are not expected to fall much lower.

However, homebuyers seeking a bargain still have some time to act.

“There’s going to be fewer high-rise products being introduced,” said Tan, who expects three to five years for the existing vacant units to be bought.

Debbie Choy, branch head of real estate agency Knight Frank’s Johor Bahru office, said that some new supply of high-rise apartments from residential projects approved and under construction can be expected.

“It will take some time for the market to absorb the stock,” she said.

Hard times, string of bad news leave Kenyans wary about real estate sector

Until two years ago, the narrative was that Kenya’s real estate sector was the best investment vehicle. Everyone who had some cash to spare wanted a piece of the pie – either as a developer or a prospective homeowner.The story is slowly changing and the sector has come under sharp scrutiny due to an upsurge of claims against developers and land dealers.From outright fraud to poor financial management practices, the sector has left many Kenyans bleeding after losing their lifetime investments in land buying companies, Saccos, and property developers.

 

In the wake of these challenges, the government got into the mix by promising to build 500,000 houses in five years. The idea ran into headwinds after the courts stopped statutory deductions from both employers and employees. Home & Away sought to find out what Kenyans think of the local property market.Eliud Njuguna, tour driver and guideI am worried about the things I am readingI have been watching the local real estate market for some time now. Although I have a home, I am interested in the sector because I would like to make some investment in it. However, I am worried about the things I am reading in the media about these big companies that promise big things but do not deliver. I will need to survey the market further before I decide on what to invest in. I have keenly followed the new government plan to build affordable houses in different places. I have registered for a home that I intend to bequeath to my children as an investment. I hope the government will follow through on the projects so that it does not become like those other projects we are reading about in the media.

Annastacia Ngina, businesswoman The loss of my land, money was painfulI tried to invest in Kenya’s real estate without much information on how things work. Through a friend, I invested about Sh600,000 in a plot in Syokimau several years ago. What I did not know (and my friend did not know either) was that the land we invested in was earmarked for the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta Airport. One day, bulldozers descended on palatial homes and demolished them. I had not erected anything on my land but the loss of such amount of money is still painful. I failed to do due diligence on the property on offer. I would handle things differently if a similar opportunity arises. Though I lost money, investing in real estate is a risk like in any business. I counted my losses and moved on.Joseph Kioko, Nairobi Market trader

My investment in Ekeza Sacco going up in smokeLike many Kenyans, I wanted to make some investment in real estate. Ekeza Sacco was the perfect choice as the terms they were offering were favourable. In fact, I can also say that their spirited campaigns and media advertising took me in. Reaping three times the amount I was saving was hard to resist. I can say that my investment is going up in smoke as the company seems to have fallen on hard times. The last time I visited their office, they promised to call me. I am still waiting for the phone call. I hope the affordable housing model by the government will work. I am willing to contribute for the houses. I trust that the government will not give empty promises to Kenyans.Benson Mwangi, phones dealerI have adopted a wait-and-see attitudeThe real estate market in Kenya is tricky especially to the common man. I have seen many people lose their hard-earned cash in the sector. Most of us just want to buy some land, build and live with family. However, the many cases of fraud are discouraging. I have not yet decided whether I want to invest in this sector. I have adopted a wait and see attitude. Some of my friends have adopted radical measures to ensure that their investments in land are guaranteed. I have a friend who bought a plot in Joska recently. Although he intends to develop it permanently, he first decided to build a temporary home out of iron sheets as “security” in case someone else lays claim to the plot. There had been many cases of buyers being allocated the same piece of property. Although that is investing in fear, that is the nature of Kenya’s property scene.

 

Maureen Mwangi, stall operatorWe need assurance that things will be differentIt is difficult to navigate the real estate sector in Kenya. It is hard to know who is genuine or not. Through friends, we have travelled to different regions to view property for sale. However, in most places, you are offered a certificate instead of a title deed. These certificates can be made anywhere, even in Nairobi’s backstreets. My advice? Leave it out if not sure. And that goes for the government’s Affordable Housing scheme too. Invest if you are 100 per cent sure of getting a house. Similar homes built in the past have been allocated to undeserving ones, especially the well connected. We need strong assurance from the government that things will be done differently this time round.Charles Muraya, clothes traderA friend lost Sh1 million in housing scamI am wary of the real estate sector in Kenya. I have a friend who lost a million shillings in a housing scam. I think one should take time to know the history of these property dealers. Today somebody comes and says that he is selling some property, gives you favourable terms and you fall for it only to lose your cash. People in Kenya like to save for property and it is sad to see them lose their life’s savings.

Dubai launches new initiative to open up property investment market

Real Estate Investment Opportunities initiative aims to attract ‘a larger segment of investors, both inside and outside the UAE’

Dubai Land Department (DLD) on Tuesday announced the launch of a new initiative which aims to attract a wider range of real estate investors to the emirate.

Under the Real Estate Investment Opportunities (REIOs) initiative, several investment products will be launched including collective real estate investment funds, partial title deeds procedures to register units owned by a number of partners, a lease-to-own system and investment portfolio applications.

A law is currently being drafted for real estate investment portfolios that is still under accreditation and review by the concerned parties, DLD said in a statement.

The launch comes as Dubai witnessed an 8 percent increase in real estate transactions during the first quarter of 2019 to AED119 billion compared to the year-earlier period.

DLD added that the number of active investors reached 2,800 during the quarter with a “large number of new investors” entering the Dubai real estate market for the first time.

Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director general of DLD, said: “We are proud to launch a new investment package that enhances the attractiveness of Dubai’s real estate environment, reaching a wider horizon of global leadership through which we will formulate new visions, especially with Expo 2020 around the corner.

“Unveiling REIOs reflects the positive impact of innovative ideas in the real estate sector.”

A special office has been approved at DLD to facilitate and unify all registration and follow-up procedures for this initiative, he added in a statement.

DLD said it will also approve a set of special privileges relating to real estate registration and its terms, and a special electronic contact website will be established.

Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), said: “This initiative will help us emerge from the traditional patterns of property buying, selling, and registration. These processes require us to embrace technology and change, both of which paved the path to launching real estate products with the participation of developers to attract new investors.

“Previously, the real estate market targeted a certain class of investors – the wealthy. Today, however, through these four products, we seek to cover a larger segment of investors, both inside and outside the UAE, and allow them to own properties in Dubai and benefit from high returns on investments.”

Source: arabianbusiness

Ministers designate induction retreat commences August 15

SGF Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an induction retreat for Ministers Designate to be held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja from August 15-16, 2019.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.

Mustapha noted that the date was fixed in view of the need to allow Ministers Designate enough time to study the documents (Status Report on Policies, Programmes and Projects; the 2019-2023 Road Map, FEC Handbook, etc) and in consideration of the upcoming Sallah break.

He urged all Ministers designate to pick up relevant documents for their study and guidance, preparatory to the inauguration on Tuesday 6th of August at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) (Cabinet Affairs Office) from 10.00am.

“Ministers Designate are also requested to please bring along and submit to the OSGF, their updated CV in soft and hard copies as well as any valid identification document,” SGF added.

Ministers designate were urged to contact the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs Office, OSGF on 08023229481 for further clarification.

“Wishing you a Happy Sallah and looking forward to seeing you at the Retreat,” Mustapha said.

Nnenna.O

13th AIHS: MBAN President, Akinlusi Speaks on Increasing Mortgage Access in Nigeria

The President of Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN), Niyi Akinlusi has revealed that the association has commenced strategies to increase access to mortgage for Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector.

While speaking with Housing News at the 13th Abuja International Housing Show in Abuja, Akinlusi said that they have identified key challenges mitigating access to home ownership in Nigeria.

According to him, with a staggering population of over 200 million people, and with current 2.5% annual population growth, Nigeria will in 2050 be one of the 3rd most populous countries in the world. But with 75% of them being 35 years and below, this population, according to Akinlusi, represents a growth opportunity for Nigeria.

‘’In a couple of years, the people in this population bracket will start their own families and will need jobs and houses to sustain themselves.

‘’We have 2 issues we must deal with. We must create jobs for these people, and we must also provide shelter for them. What can we do to solve these 2 problems? The easiest way is through housing. But now, how do we ensure these people have access to housing? 75% of Nigerians are either jobless or self-employed in the informal sector which includes agriculture.

‘’As an association, we are finding a way to ensure that young Nigerians have access to home ownership. We have come up with what we call underwriting standards for the self-employed in the informal sector working with stakeholders like CBN, NMRC, FMBN. We have approval for that.

‘’Because it is risky to give mortgage to self-employed people in the informal sector, mortgage banks do not want to underwrite mortgages for them unlike someone in formal employment whose mortgage can be deducted through income tax.

‘’With CBN, we have decided to use the BVN which is a unique number identifier. This will be the major basis for ensuring that all bank accounts associated with the mortgage earner can be assessed for repayment. With that people cannot decide to default on mortgages. It will ensure discipline. It is a global standing instruction in order to reduce non-performing loans for mortgage and commercial banks.

‘’It also expands the reach of mortgages, especially to those in the informal sectors. It will increase access to mortgages,’’ he said.

He also said that they are working on how to reduce the barriers to access to mortgages. ‘’Before now, the barrier was not having access to long term funds. However with the successful operation of NMRC, we have access to funds in the capital market. The major issue now is the issue of interest rates at upper double digits which is not affordable for Nigerians, but there are ongoing plans with the CBN to offer single digits for certain amount in order to aid affordability,’’ he said.

NMRC Bags Market Information Data Award at Nigeria Housing Awards

The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) has bagged a Housing Market Information Data Registration Award at the just concluded Nigeria Housing Awards (NHA) 2019 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The prestigious award was in recognition of NMRC’s innovative market innovation with respect to housing market information and data.

While receiving the award on behalf of the Managing Director, NMRC’s Head of ICT and Business Process Operations, Mr Taofeeq Olatinwo noted that the accomplishment was an industry wide testament to NMRC’s contributions to Excellence in Housing Finance & Construction.

NMRC has been in the forefront of driving housing market intelligence as a key area of activity and focus, within which it has developed a Mortgage Market Information Portal (MMIP). The NMRC MMIP portal is a decision-making tool that supports the growth of affordable housing and housing finance markets in Nigeria. The NMRC MMIP, is currently the repository for the National Real Estate Data Collation Programme making it a primal point of call for industry stakeholders seeking relevant and timely data on Nigeria’s housing sector.

As part of the Company’s attainment in Housing Data, NMRC had earlier in 2016 partnered with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to execute a first of its kind Housing Market survey across six geopolitical zones and involved data gathering, policy evaluation and impact assessment for decision making and investment in the mortgage and housing industry.

NMRC is a CBN-licensed mortgage liquidity facility with the core mandate of developing the primary and secondary mortgage markets. NMRC raises long-term funds from the capital market for mortgage refinancing and by extension promotes affordable housing development and home ownership in Nigeria. NMRC was incorporated on 24th June 2013 and obtained its final license to operate as a non-deposit taking financial institution from the CBN on 18th February 2015.

The Nigeria Housing Awards marked the end of the 13th Abuja International Housing Show which hosted over 30 international speakers from at least 15 countries. The award which held on the 26th July 2019 celebrated a number of excellent performers in the industry in the year under review.

Alaro City bags master plan award

The new mixed-use Lagos development, Alaro City, a joint venture between the Lagos State Government and Rendeavour, has been named winner of the international Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award in the master plan category.

The city’s master plan, according to the promoters, was shortlisted from a range of large-scale international projects and was the only entrant from the African region.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alaro City, Odunayo Ojo, said the award was a testament to the fact that the developers were building a city that Nigeria would be proud of in such a vibrant and unparalleled metropolis like Lagos.

“We were honoured to be nominated alongside complex projects such as the Amazon HQ2 supersite in Dallas and the 5M project in San Francisco,” he said.

Inaugurated in January 2019, Alaro City is planned as a 2,000-hectare mixed-use city that will include industrial and logistics locations, complemented by offices, homes, schools, health care facilities, hotels, entertainment and 150 hectares of parks and open spaces.

Ojo stated that the ArchitizerA+Awards, in its seventh year, is an internationally acclaimed programme focused on promoting and celebrating the year’s best architecture, adding that the ‘popular choice’ winners were selected through public online voting after a 10-day campaign with more than 400,000 votes from over 100 countries.

He explained that Alaro City’s master plan was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of the largest architecture and urban planning organisations in the world.

The Director at SOM City Design Practice, Daniel Ringelstein, said the Alaro City master plan was designed in a way that would protect and enhance the unique conditions of the site while enabling long-term resilience for the future city.

He said, “Alaro City helps strengthen Lagos’ position as the economic and cultural hub for West Africa by creating a new mixed-use model sustainable community – a place for people to work, make, live, and learn.”

UN-Habitat, firm launch initiative for investors’ urban projects

With the world’s urban population increasing, the need to invest in urban communities has never been more urgent.

This is particularly the case in low and middle-income countries where the pace of urbanization is fastest.

To meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 – to make cities more sustainable, resilient, inclusive and safe – governments will need to develop more urban infrastructure including thousands of new affordable housing developments and integrated urban regeneration projects. But of course, these tasks are pricey, and will require collaborative action from government leaders, urban planners, and private investors.

To drive this collaborative action, UN Habitat convened over 400 business leaders and policy makers at its recent Habitat Assembly for the Business Leaders Dialogue. Here, the discussions centred on identifying and addressing the barriers to generating and developing viable sustainable urban infrastructure projects.

One of the key initiatives announced at this event was the Capital Advisory Platform – a newly designed initiative jointly implemented by UN Habitat and the Global Development Incubator that aims to connect investors with sustainable and bankable urban development projects. If successful, this platform will generate a pipeline of investable deals while also building capacity across governments and multilaterals.

One of the key pillars to the success of this platform will be access to data. The Director at the Global Development Incubator, Alice Gugelev said that to unlock capital, investors need to see the data first.

Addressing the Habitat Assembly, Alice said, “While the need for more investments in sustainable urban development is distinct, the reality is that without data to inform investors which deals are investable, the public sector will not be able to raise the necessary capital alone. Data transparency, combined with private sector resources, will be critical to unlocking investments for a more sustainable urban community.”

The immersion of Capital Advisory Platform and the dialogue facilitated at the UN Habitat Assembly demonstrates a growing level of engagement from the private sector and commitment to future collaboration. UN-Habitat Director of External Relations, Christine Musisi, said that to address Sustainable Development Goals 11 and 17, the UN system and other public actors would need to leverage partnerships with the private sector.

“The Capital Advisory Platform is a key pillar to the UN Habitat’s commitment to cross-sector partnerships and corporate business engagement. By bringing together government leaders and private investors onto one platform – we can mobilize significant capital towards sustainable urban development and translate urban planning needs of governments into a pipeline of bankable projects for investors.”

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