|The Accra Mall|
THE ACCRA MALL
The Accra Mall, one of the most modern shopping malls in West Africa, will be officially inaugurated on the 4th of July, 2008. The Mall, located off the Spintex Road near the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange in Accra, is the first large-scale shopping centre in Ghana. It is one of the finest shopping malls in the sub region and is comparable to other similar sized malls anywhere in the world. The pioneering retail venture, which took twenty-months to build, is the brainchild of Mr. Joseph Owusu-Akyaw, a retired career banker and now retail development expert.
The mall is a joint development between Inter City Hotels Limited in Ghana, promoted and chaired by Mr. Owusu-Akyaw, and Johannesburg based venture capital funds managers, ACTIS. “I secured the land in 1978 and conceived of the idea to build a shopping mall in Accra, a project which I perceived to be a felt need for the nation’s capital… and it has been a long and arduous road to get here,” says Mr. Owusu-Akyaw. The project was viewed sceptically by many local private investors and financial institutions. They thought the size of the project was a Herculean undertaking, and even banks and financiers had doubts it could be done. But for the positive reception by ACTIS, the foreign partners, and Stanbic Bank, who provided the funds, the development would not have seen the light of day. Despite the sceptical reception to the project locally, the former banker, who has proven to be innovative and a visionary, says he never shrunk from the challenge: “the project was born out of a determination to prove not only to myself that it could be done, but to prove also that the surest way to attract foreign direct investment is when the local entrepreneurs identify the needs of the nation and set out to take the necessary steps to prepare projects that are attractive to investors. I set out to realise a dream, which many doubted would come to fruition when I set out to promote the project in 1994. This is my contribution to my country’s development.” Mr. Owusu-Akyaw adds that, “It has been a very difficult and tortuous road, and along the way the project took a toll on my family, my finances, and my health. But I was determined to prove that it could be done”.
Incidentally, Mr. Owusu-Akyaw was also a brain behind the creation and establishment of the Social Security Bank (SSB), now SG-Social Security Bank of Ghana, a project that also received a sceptical reception when he first mooted the idea. The mall was designed by the Johannesburg based Bentel Associates International (BAI), internationally recognised and award-winning retail design experts, and constructed by a local Ghanaian construction firm, DeSimones. The design of the mall is contemporary and incorporates traditional internal mall circulation with open skylights, modern flush plastered ceiling and tiled floors, state-of-the-art air-conditioning, and up-to-date fire protection and CCTV security systems, making it a world-class centre comparable to any shopping mall in the United States and Europe. The enclosed, fully air-conditioned shopping centre has 20,000 square metres of retail space, with parking for over 900 cars. The Accra Mall accommodates 65 line-shops of which 30% are operated by Ghanaian retailers. It showcases a food court operated by international franchises such as Barcelos, Ocean Sting and Rhraspody. The Accra Mall is anchored by two South African retail giants: Shoprite, a food retail enterprise, which occupies 3,500 sq meters of the retail space and carries over 2000 items on its shelves; and Game Stores, which carries household goods and occupies 5,000 sq meters of space. Also present are Mr Price and Truworth, both South African based clothing and accessories retailers. The Mall also showcases a media store which carries CDs, DVDs, and electronic games, and a five-screen cinema theatre complex, complementing the eateries and retail activities and making the mall a state-of-the-art retail and tourist destination. Mr. Sam Kyei, a chief-economist of the BNSF Railway in Texas, US, who visited the mall on a trip to Ghana, said, “this is something to see, it is like being in any first-class mall in the U.S. I am very impressed; it is a great contribution to the modernization of Ghana.” Michael Williams, fund manager responsible for Actis’s African real estate activities, said, “Actis is proud to be involved in the Accra Mall development. We have a good track record of investing in real estate in Africa, having supported similar projects such as the US$50 million Palms shopping centre in Lagos, Nigeria and the 16,000 sq meters _ Junction shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya. The success of these ventures is testimony to our expertise in developing world class malls.”
As the country forges its way towards becoming a middle-income country, the Accra Mall is a palpable symbol of the need to meet the increasingly sophisticated consumer needs of a modernized economy. The mall provides a totally new lifestyle of a one-stop shopping complex as seen in the developed countries and provides urban and middle-class Ghanaians with their first local modern shopping experience. The mall is already serving as a landmark of attraction in the capital city, and in a period marking the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the nation, the Accra Mall functions as a symbol of the growth, modernization and progress of the nation. Beyond its cultural symbolism, the economic and social benefits of the mall are incalculable. Experts see a lot of economic benefits for the country, for developers, tenants and the consumers. Experts believe that, as a pioneering development, the Accra Mall will stimulate the local property market, as developers will start investing in both existing and future developments to match the level and standards created. The mall would also act as a major tourist destination and help boost investment in Ghana. It brings a lot of benefits in terms of variety, and will help develop new retail-job skills, make the retail business more professional, and make retail managers more aware of new trends in the business. It will significantly encourage local production of goods and services, and help create about 5,000 jobs in the process. It is believed that it will spur growth in the retail industry--and growth in the industry has been a catalyst for job creation, the reduction of protectionism, infrastructural improvements, improved standards of living and general economic growth. It is projected that enormous revenue will accrue to the state and the metropolitan authorities. Taxes, rates and fees of $60.0 million is estimated to accrue from the two anchor tenants over a ten-year period. Among the many social benefits, experts argue that the retail development will help raise living standards by providing food and products as well as leisure facilities in a safe and congenial shopping environment.
The mall will help foster development of middle-class tastes and consumer demand for convenience and quality goods. Many Ghanaians are increasingly able to enjoy the goods and services widely available elsewhere in the world. Without doubt the Accra Mall is a national asset that stands as a major building block, amongst others such as the national theatre, and four modern stadia. These and more to come will give meaning to the national quest to achieve middle-income status: a marked increase in disposable income is sustainable by the existence of market providing goods and services.