With a mission to build one million homes in Sub-Saharan Africa, we discuss redefining the real estate landscape with Mustapha Njie, CEO of TAF Africa Global Limited
Screenwriter: Phoebe Harper | Project Manager: Ryan Gray
Faced with a rapidly growing population, uncontrolled levels of urbanization and rising costs of building materials, Africa faces a daunting housing challenge. The growing number of unplanned informal settlements sprouting up across the continent is a testament to this crisis.
“The housing deficit in Africa is estimated at around 58 million housing units, of which around 52 million are attributable to affordable housing”, opens Mustapha Njie.
As CEO of TAF Africa Global Limited (TAG), Njie is fully aware of continental housing trends, chairing a leading indigenous real estate company.
Over the past 32 years since its inception in The Gambia, TAG has been on a mission to answer the call of Africa’s housing crisis, committing to build one million homes in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 20 years.
From a lowly carpenter to a renowned CEO in the industry, Njie has honed his skills and construction expertise over the years, having worked for Balfour Beatty Construction Intl Ltd, and closer to home, Gambian company Ceesay Construction Company Ltd.
“After working for leading international construction companies for over 13 years and gaining a construction management qualification from the Crown Agents Training Center in Hove, UK, I left to set up my own company, TAF Africa Global in 1990,” he explains.
Originally registered as TAF Construction Company LTD (TCL), in 2017 the company entered its new incarnation as TAF Africa Global Limited (TAG), with its parent company registered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Now, Njie is comfortably seated at the helm of operations for what is generally recognized as “the best private real estate developer in the business”. A household name across Africa, TAG is present in eight African countries, with particular dominance in The Gambia and Nigeria.
PRIDE IN PROJECTS
As evidenced by the selfless mission behind its operation, TAG takes great pride in its work, acknowledging its social responsibility as people entrust it with building their homes. In recognition of its promise of one million homes in SSA, in 2000 TAG ventured into large-scale housing developments, as part of “Operation House the Nation”.
Two large developments in The Gambia followed, both co-funded by Shelter Afrique. These include the Yarambamba housing estate in Yundum and the Brufut Gardens. The latter, located in Brufut, includes 500 bourgeois houses and apartment buildings.
The success of these projects and recognition of the need for similar efforts elsewhere led to further expansion across West Africa, with TAG rapidly entering the Nigerian housing market.
Back on Gambian soil, the development of several later estates soon began including Dalaba Estate, TAF Murraya Gardens, Triple Ms and TAF Tulip Gardens.
But for Njie, and TAG by extension, the crown jewel of the company is its visionary flagship project – TAF City.
“TAF City is eco-smart and designed to be a city where people live, work and play,” he explains. “It will be a well-designed and well-planned mixed-use city. It will be an affordable, durable and eco-friendly environment that is aesthetically appealing with beautiful landscaping.
The site will occupy approximately 500 hectares of land, twice the size of The Gambia’s current capital, Banjul, and is strategically positioned just 30 minutes from the main airport and extremely close to the Allahein River border with Senegal.
Located in Kombo Sud, between the villages of Gunjur and Sifoe, the project will follow a phased development. In its entirety, this impressive undertaking will consist of 5,000 affordable home units of various home types, all of which will be equipped with water and sewage reticulation systems, and a constant power supply based on electric generators and solar. The houses will be divided into 10 residential areas, each named after various ethnic groups native to the country.
“Given the scale of TAF City and the need to ensure absolute design implementation as well as efficiency in resource management, the project will be developed in phases.
“The first phase will be a gated community comprising 277 dwellings surrounded by paved roads, solar lights, approximately 2,000 trees, gardens and green space, religious institutions, stalls, a jogging track , a crèche, parks and community centres,” he said.
This historic project will have a huge impact on the country. “TAF City is one of a kind and unparalleled in The Gambia,” says Njie.
Apart from the housing units themselves, the development includes jogging trails and parks, apartment buildings, a boutique hotel, agricultural areas, a wellness center, a shopping mall, educational institutions, restaurants, shops, transit centers, government institutions, industrial/logistics areas and a retirement village.
Throughout all phases of development, TAG will strictly adhere to and promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the key principles of this is to provide gainful employment opportunities to the local community.
“As part of a 20-year project and as part of TAG’s drive to continuously provide solutions to societal challenges, 60,000 jobs will be created for young Gambians and other nationals in SSA.
“This will help accumulate human capital, promote social stability and reduce the unemployment rate challenge in Africa. TAG will directly create jobs from low-income people to higher-income people, which will boost economies, reduce crime rates and change the landscape, especially for The Gambia,” he explains.
Other key priorities include ensuring gender equity in the hiring of contractors to undertake the works, creating economic opportunities for community members and reserving a significant portion of the land. entire estate as green and public spaces. Urban agriculture initiatives are an exciting and dynamic part of this for TAG.
“Over the years we have thought of ways to integrate an agricultural value chain into our real estate business, and we are proud that TAF City also provides space for urban agriculture. This will provide residents with the opportunity to engage in agriculture for subsistence and commercial purposes.
Residents of TAF City will have the chance to immerse themselves in practices such as horticulture, aquaculture, hydroponics, poultry and animal husbandry, light industry and many more. TAF City owners will be encouraged to grow what they eat and help reduce the cost of importing produce through intensive farming.
“It will also boost our economy and attract foreign exchange as any surplus will go to the open market and export,” Njie adds.
The first phase is expected to be completed within the next two years, following a grand and highly anticipated foundation-laying event.
Elsewhere, the company has its hands full with the development of a modern office complex, TAF Twins, and the RIVTAF Golf Estate in Rivers State, Nigeria. Njie describes the latter as “a bespoke transformation of some 40 hectares of swampy and inaccessible land into a piece of paradise on Earth, which is also the largest functional luxury estate that has been delivered and developed in the southern part of Nigeria. “.
In the coming years, expansion is at the top of TAG’s agenda, with further growth on the horizon.
“In our quest to build one million homes across SSA, TAG recently invested in Sierra Leone.
“There are plans to start working there later this year. As we have done in The Gambia and Nigeria, TAG will build affordable housing in Freetown with the necessary social amenities. We are confident that the execution of the TAG projects in Sierra Leone will positively disrupt the country’s real estate landscape, reposition the economy and improve the standard of living for the good people of Sierra Leone,” concludes Njie.
As Gambia’s leading property developer and with a handful of exciting projects underway, TAG will continue to provide affordable, comfortable and sustainable accommodation for Africans for generations to come.