An interview with Preston Mendenhall, the Head of Corporate Affairs for Rendeavour
Tell us about Rendeavour.
Rendeavour is Africa’s largest urban land developer, with satellite city and industrial park developments in the growth paths of major cities in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, DRC and Zambia. Each development is 2,500 acres and master planned for residential, commercial, retail and industrial developments, as well as for schools and medical facilities.
Over 5,000 residential units for all income levels – with a focus on affordable and middle income housing – are currently under development at Rendeavour’s projects, each of which will be home to over 100,000 people upon completion.
In addition, global, regional and local companies are building facilities in Rendeavour’s industrial zones, taking advantage of their ideal locations for transport and logistics, Special Economic Zone status, secure land title and high-quality infrastructure.
Rendeavour’s shareholders are from the United States, New Zealand, Norway and Britain.
Sub-Saharan Africa is rarely thought of as a destination for foreign investment. What factors influenced your decision to focus on sub-Saharan Africa?
On the contrary, Sub-Saharan Africa’s investment inflows have risen steadily over the two decades. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the fastest-growing economies in the world, and a rapidly increasing population (by 2050, one in four people on the planet will be African). These factors, coupled with Africa being the fastest urbanizing region in the world, influenced our decision to focus on urban land developments in Sub-Saharan Africa. What is rare is to find any major company that does not have a growth plan for Africa, or doesn’t know it needs one.
Rendeavour has seven new city projects in five countries. How do you make decisions about where to locate your projects?
We generally evaluate five criteria: 1) economic growth, 2) cities with large populations (i.e. in excess of five million), 3) an expectation of a medium term improvement in governance, 4) political pluralism and 5) the availability of large land parcels (2,500 acres and up) within 10-20 miles of the city center.
Tatu City in Kenya is a special economic zone and Lekki City Nigeria is located in the Lekki Free Trade Zone. How do you approach creating or locating in special economic zones and free trade zones? Are you considering further governance improvements in any of your projects?
In Nigeria, the Lekki Free Trade Zone – the largest in West Africa – was already established by the government when we decided to pursue a project in the area. In Kenya, we obtained SEZ status following an application process through the government. In these two countries, the governments have done very well to create the necessary governance for SEZs. From time to time, we or companies located within our developments run into an issue with SEZ rules, and we approach the government for a solution.