Custodian of Kigali property
A year on since we last spoke with Managing Director Charles Haba, Century Real Estate has continued to make service-driven strides across Rwanda’s real estate market and beyond
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
Rwanda. A small Central African nation spanning just 26,338 square kilometres, the country arguably struggles to compare to the continental powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.
This said, however, it would be wrong to underestimate a nation brimming with confidence and a GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent.
Take Kigali’s real estate industry, for instance. A sector bolstered by government incentives, political stability, positive demographics and infrastructural modernisation, Cytonn Investments has revealed that Rwanda’s capital city recorded an annual urbanisation rate of 4.9 percent in the 12 months of 2018.
An industry on the rise, such positivity is no better reflected than by the growing ambitions of Century Real Estate Rwanda, a leading Kigali-based company.
“It’s been an amazing 10 years since this company was born,” explains Charles Haba, the company’s Managing Director. “We started out as a typical estate agency, formed off the back of a merger between two such businesses, but have since diversified to become a one-stop property shop, offering a broad range of professional services.”
One year on from our last conversation with Haba, the company has remained progressive as ever, providing not only property selling, purchasing and rental solutions across both the residential and commercial markets, but equally service excellence in property development, management and consultancy.
“Resultantly, we now stand as the leaders in the Rwandan market in terms of real estate management, with more than 150,000 square metres constituting our portfolio,” adds Haba.
Outside of Kigali, Century Real Estate has a presence both nationally and globally, owed to the establishment of an expansive network of strategic alliances with other estate agencies, developers, retail brands, private equity firms and other cardinal businesses.
“Our portfolio covers the entirety of Rwanda, while we also represent clients in the UK, Dubai, Turkey, South Africa and a number of other East African countries,” reveals Haba.
Many of the firm’s most esteemed portfolio projects, however, remain within Kigali itself, Kigali Heights typifying this. An 18,000 square metre architectural marvel featuring prestigious office space and retail, Century Real Estate remains heavily involved in the management of Rwanda’s first Grade A commercial mixed-use development.
“To say that this is a flagship development for the country,” Haba reiterates, following on from last year’s conversation, “is arguably an understatement.
“Involved with Kigali Heights from the outset, undertaking appraisals, feasibility, advisory, letting and now management of the property, we were pleased to see the project awarded the Africa Property Investment (API) Summit & Expo’s Africa Property of the Year award in the Mixed-Use Development category in 2017.”
Further, the 2018 edition of the exhibition awarded the Kigali Business Centre, another reputable project that Century Real Estate offers its leading services to, the Best Alternative Asset Development and Best Refurbished Building category.
A complex that opened just five months ago, it has already reached 70 percent occupational capacity, housing a number of renowned local brands – testament to Century Real Estate’s work.
“Recognition of these projects means a lot to the product itself, but also our own brand and business,” explains Haba. “Having our name alongside globally recognised buildings in each of these categories is a huge achievement.”
Reactive, adaptive and proactive
A decade in the making, the Kigali-based property services provider has a number of exciting endeavours on the horizon through 2019 and beyond, one such opportunity being its involvement in Century Park Hotels & Residences – a development that has again already seen strong uptake.
“This is the first really premium development in Rwanda, showcasing homes that are valued at up to $1 million,” reveals Haba. “Aiding the success of such a prestigious build is something new and exciting, but equally makes a bold statement from our company in the local market.”
Moreover, Century Real Estate has also been brought on board to help market a 10,000-unit development, set to be Rwanda’s most substantial property complex that will break ground towards the end of 2019.
“This will also feature a 22,000 square metre commercial centre, educational facilities and an on-site hospital, a site that will undoubtedly be a game changer for Kigali’s real estate landscape,” adds Haba.
Monumental projects in mind, the MD remains grounded, maintaining that the company’s team are crucial to the success of the business. Hiring based on attitude, the company has been able to ensure that it remains customer-centric, with its staff immersing themselves in the business’s core values.
“Our employees have really been central to our success,” he reveals,” and will continue to be crucial in allowing us to consolidate our recent successes.”
Consolidation, however, is only part of the plan for Century Real Estate looking ahead.
Highlighting the affordable housing market as an area of growing interest, Haba continues: “For sure, this is going to be the overriding trend that will define how sustainable we remain in the market during the course of the next five years, and there’s definitely a gap in the market for our operational expertise.
“Second to this, technology will begin to play a more active role in the market. It’s something we’re aware of and are already using in our administration systems, but we want to raise the stakes and take this application to a much higher level, remaining ahead of the curve.”
All things combined, Century Real Estate will undoubtedly continue to capitalise across a multitude of different market channels, remaining reactive, adaptive and proactive in the face of sweeping changes and new opportunities.