Saturday, 22 January 2011

Zanzibar Property - Getting Your Project Built

Perhaps this is your first foreign investment overseas, or maybe it’s your first African investment and you’re wondering how the process of getting your project built, whether it’s a hotel or a supermarket.

As with all things in business, there are cheap ways to do things and expensive ways. There are plenty of local building contractors who are more than capable of turning your vision into reality but they may lack the experience of more modern building techniques and safety considerations.

Often the design is drawn by hand and discussed with the local contractor and the changes are sketched on the spot and then the build can begin. Detailed plans and blueprints are generally not required with the local way of building - you’ll find that things are done in a very ad hoc way.

Obviously this method of building requires a lot of hand holding and direction; you will need to spend a large amount of time on the building site ensuring that everything is going to plan. This method of building can be quite enjoyable for some people, but it’s definitely not for investors who want to do everything remotely.

In this instance, it is better to go with the Western approach to building. Detailed plans by a trained architect, an experienced building company with access to the latest techniques and technologies and a foreman who has experience on large projects. Companies like this do exist on the island but they charge a big premium. Often the larger investment projects will hire a contractor in their own country and then send them across to Zanzibar to manage the entire project.

Building materials in Zanzibar are generally twice the cost of mainland Tanzania due to high import taxes on the island. Sourcing simple things like light fixtures, plug sockets, bricks, cement and so on is easy on the island, but anything slightly more advanced will need to be sourced from overseas - whether mainland Tanzania or further afield.

It is relatively cheap to get a container shipped to Zanzibar and if you have a ZIPA approved project then any imports are either tax free or very low tax depending on what you import. If you have a few local contacts it is often the case that you can share a container with other projects and save a bit of cash that way.

Any project is possible in Zanzibar, but you need to be aware that the more complex you get, the more likely you are going to have to source outside contractors and import materials. By sticking to traditional methods, such as thatched roofs, you can save money as well as have your project fit in with the local surroundings much better.

There is huge opportunity to invest in a Zanzibar Property and with the right contractor, you can ensure that the build goes to plan and is successful.

Scott Bowler

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