“Africa’s largest mall” located in Abia state may be a potential failure


The Aba Mega Mall located in the busy capital of Abia state, Nigeria, has been touted as the largest mall in West Africa. This is based on the fact that Greenfield Assets Limited has spared no expense for the $300 million development process, which is in two phases. However, today, there are media reports that the project which has successfully passed the first phase, is only attracting many indigenous investors.

World class malls in Kenya and South Africa often attract foreign direct investments but so far, the Aba Mega Mall has not. Regardless of the fact that this move may be progressive, the absence of foreign direct investments (FDIs) in this particular project indicates that the term “Largest mall in Africa” may be unattainable.

The following factors may be the reasons for the absence of FDIs in the mall project:

The Abia state government has ignored infrastructural development

State governments in the past have not paid a lot of attention to building infrastructure within the state. Abia state is currently in disarray with little or no improvement on basic infrastructure like good roads, electricity, water, good housing schemes and even business development. Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Pius Anyim says, the state cannot boast of infrastructure even after 24 years of existence.

Environmental issues

Although Aba is one of the largest commercial hubs for Nigerian businessmen and women, the state has not risen to Lagos state’s commercial status in terms of popularity. FDIs may be unwilling to invest in the mall project due to Abia state’s environmental challenges stemming from the heavy commercial activities which occur in the state. Also the state government has no structure in place to regulate the effective disposal of trash and the tackle of flooding within the state.

FDIs are more willing to invest in specialized ventures in Abia state

Brazilian investors recently pledged to invest in Ariaria market, also located in Aba in order to develop and encourage the market for homemade leather products like belts, footwear and bags. The Aba leather works market has been neglected for so long. Several leather workers decried the state of electricity within their market. Therefore this investment will certainly go a long way in improving productivity in the leather market.

With the challenges currently facing the Abia state government, will the promise of “Africa’s largest mall” be followed through with the development of infrastructure to attract other foreign investors? After all, an African venture will only be sustained if there are other parties involved aside the homegrown key players.

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