Interview with Toby Selman, CEO of Africa Logistics Properties, an investment company that acquires and develops properties in principal cities across Africa

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Toby Selman, along with strategic investor, Maris, founded Africa Logistics Properties (ALP) in 2016. The company plans to expand its operations across various parts of the African continent. Today, ALP leverages its team throughout the region via a deep understanding of global customer and logistics demands, international best practices in warehousing design specifications, construction and property management.

ALP is supported by global institutional shareholder investors. The company is currently developing Nairobi’s first international Grade-A logistics warehousing parks as part of its overall pan-Africa roll-out strategy.

Toby Selman explains how ALP is making its mark in Kenya and what the investment firm has planned for the future.

What is Africa Logistics Properties?

Africa Logistics Properties (ALP) is a specialist integrated property investment company that develops, acquires and owns Grade-A industrial and logistics properties in principal cities across Africa. ALP was founded in 2016 by Toby Selman and strategic investor Maris. ALP leverages its team throughout the region via a deep understanding of global customer and logistics demands, international best practices in warehousing design specifications, construction and property management along with local expertise in market dynamics, site selection and regulatory approvals.

ALP is supported by global institutional shareholder investors CDC Group – the UK’s development finance institution, IFC of the World Bank Group, DOB Equity, Maris and Mbuyu Capital.

The company is currently developing Nairobi’s and East Africa’s first international grade-A logistics warehousing parks.

Aside from Kenya, where else does, ALP operate in Africa?

Kenya is the first country ALP has constructed its grade -A warehouses in. We are currently constructing the warehouses on two sites in Nairobi.

ALP North which is situated at Tatu Industrial Park along the Nairobi Northern bypass, measuring 527,431sqft (49,000 sqm) on a 22-acre piece of land. The project is already completed and tenants have occupied.

Our second project, which is twice as large as the first one, is ALP West set at Tilisi Industrial Park which is which is adjacent to the A104 highway towards Limuru and near the Nairobi Southern bypass. The facilities will measure 1,076,391 sqft (100,000 sqm) built on a 45-acre piece of land. Construction at ALP West has already commenced and will give users the option of renting space from 1,000 to 20,000sqm in size from 2020 onwards.

After Kenya, we plan to create a portfolio across East Africa in Uganda and Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan countries Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire.

ALP marked a major milestone when it launched its ALP North Industrial Park in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this year. What makes the project so special?

ALP is Nairobi’s very first modern Grade-A logistics and industrial warehousing for rental occupiers in the market. Users range from local, regional and multinational companies.

ALP’s facility design and specifications allows tenants to use modern warehouse management software and systems, offer businesses a plug-in-play warehousing model and ease of truck entry and exit to improve their product distribution and supply chain efficiencies.

In terms of ALP’s facilities design, the units have 12-metre high operating eaves meaning it is possible to rack pallets up to 8 high per square metre resulting in 30-40% less storage cost per square metre compared to conventional go-downs. In addition, ALP’s facilities have laser-levelled FM2 high load floors that can take 5 tonnes per square metre loads, large column grids to allow optimum racking layouts, truck dock loaders and hydraulic levelers and integrated offices.

Finally, ALP’s facility ALP North just received the World Bank EDGE Sustainability certification as the very first green certified warehousing complex in Africa thanks to features such as solar panels, LED lighting and rain water harvesting which reduce operating costs for tenants.

We are meeting a specific demand with our facilities. The quality of the warehousing ALP is offering just does not exist elsewhere in Kenya and East Africa at the moment. Our goal is to increase distribution and supply chain efficiencies significantly so as to improve the businesses bottom line.

ALP reports that Kenya has a high demand for Grade-A Warehousing. Do you believe demand is also high in other countries in East Africa?

Yes, demand for modern warehouses across East Africa is accelerating. The East African market is currently filled with Grade-C logistics and warehousing facilities known as ‘godowns’ that are of poor quality. The structures are poorly ventilated spaces, have leakages, power shortages, and poor structural planning.

This has led to a rising demand for modern and improved storage and distribution networks from companies seeking to deliver their goods to Kenyan consumers or onward transit to neighbouring countries.

What are Africa Logistics Properties’ plans for the near or distant future?

To create a portfolio across East Africa in Uganda and Ethiopia, and Sub-Saharan countries Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire.

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