Nairobi Office Market Remains Under Pressure on Low Demand

Knight Frank's Africa Report provides an overview of the continent's diverse property markets. Commentary is provided for 30 countries across Africa, along with guides to prime rents and yields in the office, retail, industrial and residential sectors.

New lockdown restrictions towards the end of Q1 are expected to further dampen demand, with rents within the Nairobi office market coming under renewed downward pressure according to Knight Frank’s Africa Office Market Dashboard for Q1 2021.

The report finds that the Nairobi office market performance remains subdued owing to the lockdown restrictions imposed towards the end of Q1 which impacted negatively on market activity.

“There remains an oversupply of commercial space in most districts across the city which together with the slowly recovering economy and working from home dynamic has given occupiers the upper hand in lease term negotiations and forced landlords/developers to be more flexible,” Anthony Havelock, Head of Agency, Knight Frank Kenya says.

He adds that positively as the global vaccination rate has increased and with some lockdown, measures improving, “We are seeing multinational occupiers looking to re-occupy their spaces and relook at their strategies which in turn is leading to increased market activity.”

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According to Knight Frank’s 28-city composite index, which tracks office rental performance in some of Africa’s most prominent cities, prime office rents remained stable during Q1 2021, the performance of office rents across Africa remains mixed

Like most other regions around the world, African cities have seen diminished office demand, which has been exacerbated by the economic fallout as a result of the pandemic. 

Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank Researcher for Africa explained, “Each market has continued to be impacted by unique factors beyond the pandemic such as currency fluctuations in South Africa, the political climate in Lusaka and a supply glut in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 

“On the other hand, locations such as Kampala are expected to record a rise in occupier activity due to the recent signing of the East African crude oil pipeline project which we expect will drive up demand from the oil and gas sector in particular”.

Financial services and the technology sector have been the most notable sectors driving occupier demand mirroring trends in the global market, according to Knight Frank.

Looking ahead, Knight Frank anticipates that the prime office market across the continent will remain tenant favourable throughout 2021. Trends on consolidation of space and flight to quality are likely to continue as occupiers seek to leverage on the weaker market conditions to upgrade the space occupied.