RICS Promoting International Standards In Ghana’s Built Environment
Projections by the Standard Bank shows that Ghana is experiencing rapid urbanisation and a growing middle class, which is expected to reach 1.6 million people by 2030. This presents an obvious opportunities in real estate especially with the increase in demand for housing, retail and commercial spaces. Ghana's construction sector contributed 9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 and growing steadily.
With population growth and the need for more property development, the surveying profession has the ability to lead on addressing the challenge of resource scarcity by promoting better use of land, agricultural management and advising on the most efficient ways to manage resources in the built environment.
With the built environment expanding at a great pace on the continent, professionals such as surveyors, engineers, and contractors, among others are ever ready to embrace the opportunities that are associated within the sector nationally, but significantly, internationally. International investors cease the opportunity to undertake various degree of investments in the emerging economies such as Africa, but looks for international standards.
With the local expertise unable to meet these standards, due to training, among others, local surveyors miss out on most of the international projects resulting in the influx of foreign professionals. Again, international investors also decide to abstain from investing in these countries that lack international standards, for instance the built environment, with the country loosing huge money to boost the economy.
Recognising the problem, and the need to address it, international organisations specifically focusing on the built environment, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and local professional bodies such as the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS), are collaborating to provide surveyors with the needed international recognition and qualifications that are associated with the built environment.
Providing International Recognition
RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional qualifications and standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure globally. RICS and GhIS signed an agreement about a year ago to help build better professionals between both organisations.
"We recognised high quality of surveyors in GhIS and so we said if somebody is a qualified member with GhIS for five years in good standing then that person automatically qualifies to be RICS member, and vice versa for RICS members," says Mr Mark Walley, RICS Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"They have got good standards, but the shame is that the international investors don't know that and don't recognise necessary GhIS qualifications and many across the continent, what we can bring is the international recognition. The international investors recognise our brand and tend to demand our brand to help members of GhIS," he noted.
Currently, there are about 40 members of GhIS who are RICS members benefiting from globally recognition and acquiring international surveying opportunities in the built environment.
Rosemargaret Esubonteng, governing council member of GhIS says the RICS qualification is recognised worldwide, and so enables our members to work across markets.
"In Ghana, it is a passport to international surveying opportunities, subject to meeting the necessary standards of technical expertise and ethical behaviour. Through our reciprocal agreement, Ghanaian and RICS chartered surveyors can benefit and share expertise," she emphasised.
IPMS to bring transparency and consistency
RICS in November, 2014 launched the launch International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) in Frankfurt, Germany, basically to bring transparency and consistency to the real estate markets across the world.
"It is going to be so important to the world and Ghana included, if you go into a building now and asks different surveyors who operate different standards to measure that building the answer you will get about a size of it varies about 24%," says Mr Walley.
"Nobody has got it wrong, they just do it differently and that is fine when you are operating in your own markets with your own investors and people," he stated.
"But as soon as you start you getting international investors, owners and occupiers, they want to be able to make comparisons across portfolios, roll out the size of buildings into valuation of the buildings into their account and know that everything is consistent," said Mr Walley.
So the IPMS incorporates inputs from various professional organisations to make it more uniform and acceptable by the professional bodies.
Rosemargaret Esubonteng, GhIS, says working together with other professional bodies on the creation and adoption of international standards, having Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes and networking events would enrich the professional experience and outlook of surveyors.
IPMS measurement for office buildings ensures that property measurement is comparable across markets to improve property assets management and how financial decisions are made global investors and corporate occupiers. It also seeks to reduce business risks by improving the benchmark of property portfolios as well as gives greater credibility for valuation professionals to enhance valuation process and investment potential of property.
Apart from that "we are going to have measurement standards for retail, for housing and so on. If you have one way of doing is there can be no dispute about how the property is and we will take those standards beyond and one of the really important standards next standards is international ethical standards," Mr Walley said.
"If you look at the returns of those who invest in Africa, they are expecting 25-30% returns on investment. They want so much because they risk their money and if this is aligned with European or North American markets, they will be expecting between 5-7% returns, massive risk reduction," he stated.
Mr Walley explained that investors want confidence and that is achieved through professional standards, adding, "People want transparency and without confidence and transparency investors will not come".