Because of recent conflict and uncertainty, South Sudan’s capital Juba is far from an obvious place for large property developments. However, insurance company UAP Old Mutual sees new opportunities opening up as security improves and crude oil production increases. How we made it in Africa spoke to Kris Mbaya, the firm’s managing director for South Sudan, on the sidelines of the Africa Oil and Power conference in Cape Town. Here are edited excerpts.
UAP Insurance has been active in South Sudan since 2006. Give us an overview of your property investments in the country.
I’ll give you a quick overview of our East African operations before I come to South Sudan. UAP Old Mutual is in five East African countries – that is Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan. In all these markets we have a very strong property investment arm. At the moment, in Nairobi, we have the county’s tallest building – a 33-storey tower in the Upper Hill area; and in Uganda we have the Nakawa Business Park.
In South Sudan we have the 15-storey UAP Equatoria building, which comprises 8,500m2 commercial office space. We started construction in 2011, and the building was completed in 2015 – there was a slight interruption in construction during the crisis. In addition to this, we have invested in an accommodation block – high-class two-bedroom apartments in a very good residential area.
For our readers not that well acquainted with the inner workings of the insurance industry, can you explain why an insurance firm is involved in property investments?
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