Red Pepper online had an interview with Clive Keffold, the MD of Jakana Heights, an up-market development coming soon at the hills of Konge in Kampala overlooking Lake Victoria.
Give me a brief background about yourself.
My education and background are what you’d expect from someone going into one of the professions, and this is what most of my friends have done, but I have always been more attracted by the challenges and rewards of running my own business.
For the same reason I have found working in Africa very exciting and particularly enjoyed learning to understand the African perspective while at the same time being grounded in the Western way of doing business.
Why did you decide to invest in Uganda, and are you in partnership with a local company?
I wanted to make an investment in Africa partly to help promote the investment potential in the region.
I researched Africa, particularly Kenya and Rwanda which both also have great potential, but for me Uganda had the advantage of a large and growing population.
Because it was not as developed as Kenya, I felt it had the greatest potential for growth. I feel this has proved to be right.
Why did you decide to name the project Jakana Heights?
My partner in Uganda is Dan Jakana and it seemed appropriate to use his family name as it is a Ugandan project.
Jacana is also the name of an African bird, which it gives the right impression for a development that is one of the highest if not the highest in the city
What makes Jakana Heights unique in the real estate’s sector?
It is the research that we have put into giving people what they want. The location is of course spectacular, but what also matters is the attention to detail in the finishing and making sure everything works and looks good.
We also provide all the leisure facilities such as a pool, gym, shops, and clubhouse and on top of that provide rooms to hire for business meetings so that the residents have everything they need on the site.
Can a foreigner buy into or invest in some of your projects? Are there any legal impediments?
Anyone is able to invest in this project as it is developed on Buganda land and therefore under a lease.
This means it does not have the same restrictions as mailo land. This will create quite a unique atmosphere among the residents.
What is your payment plan and have you got any scheme for people in the Diaspora with no banking facilities in Uganda?
We are taking four payments of 25% during the construction but we can also direct buyers from the Diaspora to local banks who will be happy to discuss finance with them.
Do you have a local bank you are in partnership with that can offer loans to Diasporans and what are the criteria?
We have found DFCU and Stanbic to be very helpful and both offer good packages to the Diaspora.
They are already aware of the development and both have given us specific people who are dealing with the enquiries.
How can people in the Diaspora get more information on Jakana? Do you have an office in UK for instance? And what measures have you devised to tap into the Diaspora market?
The website has numbers for the UK, US and Uganda and we have several people here who will be happy to meet and discuss the project with anyone who is interested in buying.
The properties are ideal for Diaspora people, especially for those who want to go back to retire in 10 or 20 years.
We have put together a package for financing and renting properties so that the rental income pays for the apartments. They will make amazing retirement properties and have no mortgage left on them.
What guarantees and safeguards are in place to protect people’s money? In case the project fails to take off.
We will start with the smaller of the two blocks, which has 21 apartments.
We already have almost enough interest to sell it out so our plan from the beginning was always to make sure we knew the project would be a success before starting.
We will then proceed with the project on the same basis to make sure that nothing goes wrong at each stage.
We have only the best professionals running the construction team and of course if anything did happen, we would refund money to buyers.
Owning a flat is a new culture in Uganda, but people in the Diaspora probably understand it better. How are you planning to promote the culture of owning flats under the condominium arrangement to Ugandans?
Although condominiums are still quite new in Uganda, the concept is simple and most Ugandans who have looked at the development know that it is now possible to enjoy all the lifestyle benefits of living in an apartment and at the same time own the property instead of renting it.
We certainly intend to promote this idea in our marketing as we believe that a culture of home ownership is very beneficial not only to the buyer but the country as a whole.
What luxury amenities will the development have?
There will be a swimming pool overlooking Lake Victoria, saunas and steam rooms for relaxation, and a gym, games room and clubhouse for meeting people.
We also believe that some of the residents who own their own businesses will appreciate having concierge staff and meeting rooms available for booking so that they can run their business from home if they want to.
Will the development have parking and any other family attractions?
There is covered parking for each apartment and there will be a play area for children within the gardens.
What are the envisioned returns for investors?
I expect the prices to have risen by at least 30% by the time the property is completed.
We have had experts value the development and if we look at the expected yields, they are around 13% to 16% on the prices currently offered.
We know that this is well above the market average and strongly suggests to me that we are currently selling well below the properties value. This is why prices are planned to increase as the development progresses.
How affordable are your condo apartments?
The starting price is very affordable at $80,000, which is at the moment about £53,000for a one bedroom apartment.
That is amazing value for everything that you are getting in the price.
The three bedrooms starting at $220,000 or about £145,000 are still excellent value.
The penthouses are not so affordable, selling at over half a million dollars but they will be some of the most spectacular properties in Kampala.