RICS and Sub-Saharan Africa

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a global professional body that consists of professionals in land, property and construction areas of the built environment. The organization has evolved from being UK-based to a globally recognized mark of property professionalism. Its presence in Africa had, however, not been felt until November 2013.

RICS’s leadership under President Louise Brooke-Smith and the RICS Governing Council ratified a proposal that would “widen operations to include Sub-Saharan Africa. The operations would be rolled out in the form of hubs or regional offices located in Ghana (in West Africa), Kenya (in East Africa) and South Africa (in the South). The three are considered to be strategic and key markets for RICS’s initial roll-out in Africa. You should note that RICS has been involved in South Africa for a number of years.

What would you do or require to be the Regional Director Sub Sahara Africa?

On July 10, 2015, RICS announced the appointment of Mr Wafula L. Nabutola as the Regional Director for Sub Sahara Africa, to be based in Nairobi hub ahead of the office’s opening at the end of August this year. Nabutola’s three-decade long experience in Kenya’s real estate and property industry saw him serve as the chair of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK). Internationally, he served as the chair of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Commission 8 since June 2005. He also served as the chair of the Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) for five years between 2005 and 2010.

Currently he runs MyRita Consultants, a training, advisory and research firm based in Nairobi.

Nabutola’s appointment was backed by his “extensive connections across the built and natural environment” and a “wealth and depth of experience in the private and public sectors”, making him the ideal candidate to “spearhead RICS’s work across the continent.”

The announcement was made by RICS’s Mark Walley, who is the organization’s Regional Managing Director EMEA.

Why Nairobi?

The presence of RICS in Sub Saharan Africa is in response to the need for value in Africa’s growth and development, especially in the built environment. Kenya’s level of development and economic stability is one of the reasons for its selection. RICS is also focusing on Tanzania in its long-term expansion plan.

Kenya is one of Africa’s countries where professions in the built environment are developing at a high pace. Matched with foreign direct investments channeled towards real estate, there is  the need to benchmark these professions globally in order to improve investor confidence.


In November 2013, RICS negotiated a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK). The memorandum of understanding (MOU) is part of RICS’s commitment and focus to build relationships with professional bodies such as the IQSK. Through collaboration, IQSK and RICS will work on:

  1. Building capacity through RICS’s role “to assist building professional skills” to close skill gaps
  2. Best practice guidance on how to put international standards to practice in order to market the local and regional markets
  3. International standards: The two bodies will work together to promote and meet the need for international standards in property. This will be achieved through the development and regulation of standards required to ensure the sustainability of the land, real estate and construction markets

“Growth in property markets across Africa will not just fuel a need for massive infrastructure investment but will also see a need for more professionals, skills and capacity to manage this growth,” said TC Chetty, the RICS country manager, South Africa during the RICS Africa 2015 summit. This was the first time RICS was hosting its global summit in Africa.

Two of the areas where “massive skill gaps” exist in Africa’s real estate are: inadequate number of skilled built environment professionals and the lack of data and information.

How can Kenya Quantity Surveyors Join RICS?

In the March 2015 report, the RICS Governing Council indicated that “In Kenya, RICS’ market entry strategy will be led by increased recognition, building on partnerships with local professional bodies and with a focus on valuation standards, training and education opportunities.”

RICS and IQSK have different levels of membership. Thanks to the MoU, quantity surveyors who are full members of Kenya’s IQSK can become members of RICS.

In order to attain the MRICS (Professional) membership, a full member of the IQSK is deemed qualified for a direct entry provided they have at least five years of relevant post-membership experience.

You can also become an Associate (AssocRICS) member when you are a full member of the IQSK on condition that you complete an online ethics module or course offered by RICS.

Before the MoU

Prior to the signing of the MoU, joining RICS was a long and expensive process. That possibly explains the very few chartered surveyors in the country. Kenyan quantity surveyors could not access opportunities in some markets due to either the lack of recognition of our standards or the need to them to start afresh the process of accreditation as professionals.

Our take

The collaboration and partnerships arrangements being advanced by RICS and local professional bodies in Africa is a timely move. Local consultants have lost many an opportunity in real estate developments led by foreign investors due to the inadequacy of some special skills. The partnerships will open up the surveyor’s professional experience to new literature and courses through joint continuing professional development (CPD) sessions. There will also provide surveyors with access to global networking events.

Kenyan surveyors will also be able to be mobile across borders since the RICS accreditation is globally recognized.

As highlighted by RICS Governing Council, professionals in Kenya will enjoy the benefit from the ability to work outside the local markets. Through this kind of exposure, members will “value the status and the growth opportunities that RICS accreditation brings”.

Are you a real estate, land or construction professional? How do you think RICS presence in Kenya and in Africa will impact on your professional growth and development?