Incoming Notes 2021: President (Prof.) Omokolade Akinsomi

Speech as Incoming President of the African Real Estate Society

I would like to acknowledge the presence of the AfRES board including our President Catherine Karuiki, Executive Director Prof Francis Viruly, the incoming Executive DirectorProf Aly Karam, our chapter heads, Southern African Chair and our Chair of the Virtual Conference- Prof Ephraim Munshifwa, West Africa Chair- Mr. Kunle Awolaja, East Africa Chair- Mr. Nzioki Nicky, our treasurer- Mrs. Zainab Sinare, incoming treasurer- Rachel Mirembe. Thank you all for the service you have and will render to AfRES. We are indebted to our Gold sponsor- IREBS and our AfRES friend for their unflinching support for so many years- we acknowledge Prof (Nana) Schulte and Prof Hahn, Corporate Sponsor- Gyro Group and other sponsors of our conference including Copperbelt University, University of Lusaka, Seeff, Upmarket, and Liberty. Our sponsors have assisted us and without them this conference would not hold.

Our sincere gratitude to them as well as Wits Enterprise including Melissa and Dimple for their support in organising this conference.

My Journey

My journey with the African Real Estate Society began in 2013. It’s a story of the benefits of being mentored- I heard of the African Real Estate Society from my PhD advisor at the National University of Singapore- Prof Ong Seow Eng. He had advised me to join the African Real Estate Society on my return to Africa in 2013, just after my PhD. Professor George Ofori at the then National University of Singapore had also asked me to join and he particularly mentioned giving back, he had also mentioned to me not to publish in the Journal of African Real Estate Research- but I did not listen to that advice as I published a paper on the creation of future leaders of the African Real Estate Society (FLAfRES) late last year.

My contributions to AfRES began from my chapter- I am Nigerian, my domicile is South Africa. With SAFRES- In 2013, my colleague Prof Samuel Azasu roped me into AfRES through paper reviews for the Journal of African Real Estate Research and appointed me as the Director of Research and Development in 2013 – a role I served for 3 years. In 2015, I was elected as Chapter Head of the AfRES Southern Chapter in Addis Ababa Ethiopia- a role I served in for 5 years, Chair of the Future Leaders of the African Real Estate Society- I spent time creating this organisation and served as its inaugural Chair for 2 years and recently Vice-President- role I served for 3 years. In some instances I headed 3 offices in AfRES at one given time simultaneously and this was spurred from my willingness to serve and be of service, I also got support from the AfRES Board. So I urge all AfRES members to give their time to serve- we can all serve in different ways, there is a lot of service to be offered in our local chapters. As I leave my role as SAfRES Chair, I thank my executive and advisory team including Uarike, Sean, Patrick, Sam, Aly and Francois, we have made lot of progress collectively as a team, we now have a bank account with a healthy sum of over US$10,000
from Zero when I took office in 2016, we are now registered as a not-for-profit organisation, we have a corporate sponsor in Gyro Group- for the last 3 years the Gyro group has donated around US$6,000 to SAfRES and we have instituted programs to sponsor students to the AfRES conference- 6 students were beneficiaries of our program in 2021.

Goals as president
My Agenda as President for the African Real Estate Society are in 3 folds: First and perhaps most dear to me is in the area of grooming the next generation of real estate professionals and academics, second to encourage diversity and gender balance in AfRES and finally to work on the African Valuer Project.

In the areas of Grooming the Next Generation:
My story- It was an easier road for me to have a career in real estate as my father- Ayo Akinsomi is a real estate professional in Nigeria, he was my first mentor. However I am aware that this is not the case for other young people in real estate. In 2019 during my tenure as Vice-President of the Organisation with the support of the President- Catherine Karuiki.

I created the future leaders of the African real estate society with my colleagues Emmanuel Gavu and Tayo Odunsi to address support for our early career researchers, we were able to successfully match 10 young mentees to mentors in 2020 and I hope to work closely with FLAfRES to carry on this program. Mentors are particularly helpful for young professionals and academics to reach their full potentials- one of my mentors in AfRES was the late Mr. Akin Olawore (May his soul rest in peace)- he was very supportive of young people in AfRES.

Secondly I would be working closely with FLAfRES to develop a thriving PhD network at AfRES. I would also suggest to the AfRES board that the Executives of FLAfRES are invited to the AfRES board meetings in the future. As chair of the Future leaders of the American Real Estate Society, I was privileged to sit in the American Real Estate Society
Board meetings for 3 years and this assisted me greatly in the areas of leadership and I hope this this would also benefit young AfRES leaders.

In the areas of Women Development
It is important that we address the gender imbalances at AfRES. We are making progress and in-roads here- Our President, Treasurer are women, the incoming Vice-Chair of the AfRES Southern Chapter is a woman and the Program Chair of the Future leaders of the African Real Estate Society is a woman but we need to do more to encourage our women professionals and academics to participate in the African Real Estate Society conference as well as take on leadership positions. The special issue dedicated to women in Journal of African Real Estate
Research was a resounding success and I urge every AfRES member to download and read this special issue and we hope to continue programs that support women development and correct the gender imbalances at AfRES.

In the areas of the African Valuer Project

Valuation procedures on the continent is often disparate and not aligned. The African real estate society began this conversation many years ago. I hope to re-visit this by inaugurating a working committee from the East, South and West- representatives from the valuation boards in this chapter together with executives led by our Vice-President- Mr. Kunle Awolaja would begin the work. Our vision is to have an African Valuers book by AfRES. Africa needs a one voice in valuation.

 

There are other areas of the organisation which needs attention such as our website, sponsorships, increasing our member base, I would also make it a priority to get in touch with African real estate academics/professionals in diaspora, to attend and participate as members of AfRES as well as for AfRES to connect with organisations across Africa such as UNHabitat. I hope to work with the executive team to improve these areas of our organisation. I
would also like to hear from all AfRES members- any ideas to improve our organisation is highly welcome.

 

Conclusion
Reflecting on our 20th AfRES conference. Professor Home in his keynote in our conference described AfRES as being a Bell-Jar- a place for the Elites of African Real Estate, this was a moment of reflection for me and made me reflect that we need to ensure that we create a more inclusive AfRES which provides access to our students/early career professionals and academics as well as addressing the gender imbalances in the executive positions held in
AfRES.

I would like to thank our president- Madam Catherine Karuiki for our service to AfRES for 3 years, AfRES is in a better position because of her leadership. Our president has steadied the ship in difficult times even during turbulent times as a result of the covid pandemic. I would also like to thank our outgoing Executive Director- Professor Viruly, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that AfRES remains relevant, I wish you well as you take your position as the
President of the International Real Estate Society.

There is no AfRES, without its members. As the incoming AfRES President, I thank for you for your continued unwavering support of AfRES over the years. Our 20th annual conference had participants that have logged in from over 15 different African countries. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you at our conference in Accra, Ghana in September 2022.

Finally, Before I am Nigerian, I am an African, Before I am Yoruba, I am an African, Before I am an Akinsomi, I am an African and Before I am Omokolade, I am an African.

That which binds us together as Africans is greater than that which drives us apart. Our 20th annual conference is a reflection of this as participants of this conference have logged in from 15 different African countries.

God bless Africa and God bless the African Real Estate Society.

Thank you all and I look forward to seeing you all in person at the next AfRES conference in Accra, Ghana.
……………………………………..
Omokolade Akinsomi.
President- African Real Estate Society.

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