Cityscape 2021: Egypt's Ora Developers to spend $1bn in five years on African expansion

The developer will invest in a seven-star hotel project in Senegal and resorts in other African markets, its billionaire chairman Naguib Sawiris says

Ora Developments is building three mixed-use projects in Egypt with a combined value of up to $11bn. Victor Besa / The National
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Ora Developers, an Egyptian property developer, is planning to spend at least $1 billion on expanding its presence in African markets over the next five years as it seeks to tap into the growth potential of the continent, said its billionaire chairman Naguib Sawiris.

The company’s investment will be phased and expansion plans include building a seven-star hotel and developing resorts in several African markets, Mr Sawiris, who is also chief executive of the luxury property developer, told The National at Cityscape Global in Dubai.

“Now we are looking into other locations, mostly in Africa,” he said. “I’m just coming from Senegal … we want to do a seven-star hotel, which doesn’t exist there, and maybe also [invest in] a resort there.”

The company is waiting for the current political unrest in Sudan to settle down before it proceeds to invest in the market. Congo, Ghana and Zaire are among other African markets in which Ora is interested in investing.

Based in Cairo, the developer builds mixed-use residential luxury projects with commercial, retail, entertainment and hospitality elements integrated in its master plans. It is already building projects in Grenada, Egypt, Pakistan and Cyprus.

Ora is also considering plans to expand its presence in Pakistan, where it is developing a large residential project in the capital, Islamabad, that includes commercial facilities and a golf course.

“We are also thinking about going to Karachi and doing a high-rise project there,” Mr Sawiris said.

The company is also building three big mixed-used projects, or "urban destinations", in Egypt. The combined value of the developments is $10bn to $11bn, Ora Developers Egypt chief executive, said Haitham Mohamed.

Silversand, on the north coast of Egypt, has a project value of about $3bn, Zed West is valued at $3bn and Ora's third project, called Zed East, has an inventory value of about $4bn, he said.

These projects will be delivered in phases and the combined investment on the developments including “infrastructure and construction budgets is almost 80bn Egyptian pounds, or about $5bn”, he said. “Even the cost of land is expensive in Egypt now … about $3bn.”

The company plans to fund the projects through a combination of equity, about $1bn in bank financing and a revenue share model with the government of Egypt, where the developer will receive the land and the government will receive 27 per cent of revenue collected, Mr Mohamed said.

“When we reach minimum guarantee, we stop paying [the government],” he said. “Then we will [fully] own the project.”

The construction cost of the Silversand project is in the range of $1.6bn and the company plans to commence work on the development in the first quarter of 2022, delivering the entire project within five years.

“The first phase of the project will be ready in 2024,” he said. He estimated the Zed West and East projects' first phases will be “ready to move in” by 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Updated: November 11, 2021, 6:44 AM