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Mon 28 Jul 2008 04:41 PM

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Developer eyes Africa as next big thing

Real estate company Kensington enjoys success with projects in Dubai and Africa.

Kensington Real Estate, a Dubai-based developer, says Africa will be the next big thing for property development.

Company director Ashish Thakkar said he is targeting the continent for future development projects as he revealed that 70 percent of its Kensington Crystal development in Dubai Maritime City was sold out.

The remaining 30 percent of the company’s first UAE project will be sold at the official launch in Dubai later in October as well as other possible launches in India and London.

“We were oversubscribed and had an overwhelming response. There’s been a lot of inquiry and demand for future Kensington projects,” said Ashish Thakkar, director of Kensington.

While the Kensington Crystal project is worth $544m, the company said it planned $5bn worth of projects by 2011 across different locations.

In the UAE, Kensington projects reached $1bn but only Kensington Crystal has been announced, which is expected for completion in 2011.

“We have commenced work on site. We haven’t appointed the main contractor but the soil investigations have been completed. We’re finalising a contractor for excavation shoring and piling so piling work is about to commence,” said Thakkar.

The company has completed two residential and commercial projects in Africa with the third project underway. It is soon to announce a “very large” fourth project in Africa, according to Thakkar. Its investments in Africa will top $272m by the end of 2008.

“Africa is where our aggressive focus is. We’re looking at hotel and development projects there. It’s the next big thing. What India and China were five years ago is what Africa is today. Unfortunately the media creates a very negative perception,” said Thakkar.

“The whole of Africa is booming. We’re trying to create a brighter, more positive impression of Africa as a whole and we’re driving it through the private sector,” he said.

Kensington Luxury Heights, a residential community in Uganda where England footballer Rio Ferdinand has bought a house and been assigned as the brand ambassador, is underway. The 150-houses township is the company’s third project in the continent.

Kensington is also eyeing Qatar, Morocco, Australia, and India for developments.