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How Shopping Mall Boom is Driving East Africa’s Parking Market

July 3, 2018

Shem Oirere

East Africa is experiencing a growth in the construction of new shopping malls as consumption trends in the region evolve and investment capital flows reach a new higher level. In addition, there are more international brands seeking to entrench themselves in emerging markets away from more competitive business environments in Europe and North America.


The increasing number of shopping malls, especially in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and Uganda’s biggest city Kampala, has provided an alternative to the sometimes chaotic and unstructured on-street and off-street parking sites in these two urban areas with populations of 3.5 million and 1.35 million, respectively. 


“Continuous growth in shopping center space across the continent (Africa) is driven by the steady rise in local consumption, lack of formal retail space, influx of investment capital and strong interest from international brands willing to capture opportunities in fast growing markets,” says Julien Garcier, founder and managing director of Nairobi-based Pan-African market researcher Sagaci Research, which also provides market intelligence and market data.


Garcier’s past research for the Shopping Centers Association of Kenya predicted that the number of shopping center projects across East Africa are set to grow in the next two years with Kenya and Uganda anticipating 20 and four additional projects, respectively, by 2020.


He estimates Kenya has the second highest number of shopping centers in Africa at 53, after Egypt which has 92. The gross leasable area available in Kenya is 642,000 square meters as of the first quarter of 2016, just behind Egypt’s

2.2 million square meters. Uganda, on the other hand, has an estimated 16 shopping centers and gross leasable area of 193,000 square meters.


However, it is the shopping mall component that has proved the huge investment potential in East Africa’s parking industry as mall owners who have constructed modern parking sites partner with private parking operators to manage the entry, parking and exit of cars at these shopping complexes.


Property market analysts estimate Kenya has invested in 761,805 square meters of retail space and by 2020 it is estimated that another 250,000 square meters will be constructed, more than 70 percent of the total retail lettable space being in the capital Nairobi. 


Some private operators have taken advantage of the modern parking lots at shopping malls, largely constructed with a mix of asphalt and multi-story concrete structures, to secure contracts for the operation and managing of the parking facilities.


For example, Kenya Airports Parking Services (KAPS), which is one of the premier East Africa’s provider of solutions in car parking, access control and revenue management systems, has partnered with the management of Acacia Mall in Kampala to install and operate a parking management system.


Acacia Mall is one of the biggest shopping complexes in Kampala with more than 570 lots at the double basement and upper floor parking site with installed automated access points. KAPS says it has installed an automated parking system to manage the mall’s parking facility.


Additional off-street car parking in Kampala has been provided at several shopping malls such as Ntinda Shopping Centre, Tirupati Mazima Mall, Forest Mall, Grand Imperial Shopping Mall, Kamu Kamu Plaza, Capital Shoppers, Metroplex Shopping Mall and Ovino Mall. Others are Quality Shopping Village, Mukwano Mall, Lugogo Mall, Pioneer Mall, Garden City Shopping Mall, Oasis Mall and Owino Market.


 


"The increasing number of shopping malls has provided an alternative to the sometimes chaotic and unstructured on-street and off-street parking sites."


 


KAPS says its car parking system “now support hundreds of thousands of vehicles transactions daily across the region (East Africa) supported by our hundreds of man years of management expertise and a portfolio of targeted software tools.”


The parking operator has also been picked to install and operate parking management systems at some of the biggest shopping malls in Nairobi such as Galleria, Lavington, Westside, Greenspan, Zion, Mega Plaza and Krishna Centre.


Depending on the preference of the shopping mall owners/investors, KAPS is providing various parking management systems, including KAPS GoMobile where clients pay via phone, at the parking facilities at shopping of The Junction, Prestige Plaza, Sarit Centre, Galleria, Ukay and Village Market, all of them in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.


KAPS also offers an offline-based parking system which helps manage parking facilities when there is no internet or ISP connection. It enables the opening and closing of parking facility gates and the operator to issue tokens and receive payments.


The Nairobi-based parking operator also supplies a cognitive gateless entrance parking system, which utilizes an automated number plate recognition (ANPR) and mobile phone application technology which it says is based on the KAPS’ ARK 2.0 parking platform. 


Paytech Africa, which has partnered with German firm Scheidt & Bachmann, is also active in the East Africa market where it supplies, installs, and operates parking access and revenue collection systems particularly in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.


Paytech Africa, which was yet to respond to requests for an interview with Parking Today, supplies and supports parking access control systems to car parks owned by shopping malls Two Rivers, which is the biggest mall in sub Saharan Africa, Thika Road Mall and Rosslyn Riviera Mall, all in Nairobi.


At the 65,000 square meter Two Rivers shopping mall, Paytech Africa has installed its Mpark parking management solution to manage the 1,500 parking bays. The mall, which has attracted more than 200 retailers, also has an additional 2,000 parking bays in the parking silo.


The company says the Mpark solution comes with a wide array of parking options that can “be flexibly combined to precisely reflect parking needs ranging from regular short-term parking to customer bonus programs, wide-ranging discount tariffs and contract parker solutions with active or passive transponders.”


With the Mpark solution, Paytech Africa says parking facilities such as those at the shopping malls can easily manage “short-term parkers right from parking tariff, entry/exit to parking ticket payment.”


Paytech Africa also says the Mpark parking solution enables operation of permanent/contract parking management systems such as “allocation of specific parking usage entitlements including time-related profiles, issuance of access cards, user tariff allocation and billing.”


Paytech offers several payment options for the parking services. At the Thika Road Mall, for example, the parking operator is paid according to the time the car has been parked at one of the than 700 parking lots.


For the first five hours, car parkers pay US$0.5 while parking for five to six hours costs US$1.50. Up to six and seven hours parked cars attract US$2.49 and above seven hours the parkers will pay US$1 for every additional hour.


Paytech Africa has supplied a variety of parking media such as barcodes, magnetic stripe tickets and ChipCoin technology for short-term parkers and contactless cards for contract/permanent parkers.


As the middle class in East Africa expands, income levels are also set to increase and influence consumption trends that will affect international retailers such as Shoprite Group, Carrefour, Mr. Price, Choppies, Woolworths, Truworths and Babyshop. These retailers’ interest in the region’s retail market is likely to spur construction of additional shopping malls - many of them with parking management systems that ensure pleasant parking experience.


Shem Oirere is Parking Today’s on the ground reporter in Africa. He can be reached at shem@shemoirere.com.



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