Foreigners factor in the Ggaba road property market

Wednesday January 8 2020

A view of some of the residential buildings

A view of some of the residential buildings surrounding one of the universities in Kansanga on Ggaba Road in Kampala. Photo by Tony Mushoborozi 

By Tony Mushoborozi

The property landscape on Ggaba Road in Kampala, is different from any other part of the capital and the country by extension. For some reason, the towns along this road are greatly inundated with foreigners. Places such as Nsambya, Kabalagala, Kansanga and Bunga are favourites for foreigners living in Uganda. Try sampling the hangout places along this road and it will become clear that not only are the owners of most of them foreigners, the patrons too are considerably non-Ugandan. And I am not talking big multinational ones; I am talking about local corner shops that employ less than three workers.
The coffee shops and restaurants along this road are owned by Europeans, Eritreans and Ethiopians. A shocking fact about these Ethiopian coffee shops is that they sell the cheapest coffee one can find. As low as Shs1,000, for a shot of espresso.

The property market
From Frenchmen to Germans, Congolese to Ethiopians and Eritreans, Ggaba Road is the place to find a multinational market. The reason for this special situation is subject to further investigation, but what is easily verifiable is that the foreigners are a major factor in the real estate arena of the area.
According to Paul Musitwa, a property dealer along the road, the greater number of rental properties along Ggaba road are occupied by foreigners.
“Eritreans and Ethiopians are here in the largest numbers. This, I believe started during the Ethiopian-Eritrean war [between May 1998 – June 2000]. The two ethnicities have been seeking refuge in the country, and they are quite concentrated along this road,” he says.

Commercial property
The case doesn’t stop at residential homes.
“In Kansanga and Kabalagala, for instance, most commercial rental spaces are mostly taken by foreigners. They just pay better money. It’s all about the dynamics of demand and supply. While Ugandans are struggling financially lately, the foreigners seem to be unaffected by the bad economy,” Musitwa says.
The foreigner factor has caused inflated prices in the area. And this can be exciting if you are real estate investor.
A single bedroom house on Ggaba road is rated at as high as shs1m. In comparison, a house of the same specifications goes for less than half that amount in the known expensive locales such as Ntinda.
A two-bedroom house in the areas on Ggaba road goes for as high as shs1.3m. Jacob Mugabo, a broker in Bunga says you’d be lucky to get two-bedroom house at less then shs800,000.

Education centre
Ggaba Road is also home to several universities; Kampala International University, International University of East Africa, Kampala University among many more.
Even properties in the area that might be below the standards of an average corporate employee, and hence undesirable to the foreigners, are a great bargain for struggling students. Richer students of course pay top dollar too. This poses opportunities for all kinds of investors. Small single rooms that would not need you to take a bank loan to build will make money on Ggaba Road because of students. Large hostel blocks would make money from richer students. Fancy apartment blocks would still earn one a decent income on Ggaba Road. Richer students of course pay top dollar too. This poses opportunities for all kinds of investors. Small single rooms that would not need you to take a bank loan to build will make money on Ggaba road because of students. Large hostel blocks would make money from richer students. Fancy apartment blocks would still earn one a decent income on Ggaba road.

Land prices
Land on Ggaba road is for the big-time property investor. According to Musitwa, an acre of land in the areas along the road starts at shs1b. If it is along the main road, it can even go to $1m (about Shs3.7b).
“I know someone selling 70 decimals of land (¾ of an acre) in Kabalagala. He is asking for $500,000 [about Shs1.8b]. Another with the same size wants $700,000 [about Shs2.5b]..”
A plot as small as 50 feet X 100 feet goes for as much as shs800m. Such is the real estate temperature in locations along Ggaba Road.

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editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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