Home » Building East Africa’s Future: The Evolution of Centum Real Estate

Building East Africa’s Future: The Evolution of Centum Real Estate

Centum Real Estate, originally known as Kenya National Properties Limited since 1967, underwent rebranding to Athena Properties Limited in 2013, and later became Centum RE in 2020.

Over the years, it has established itself as a leading real estate development and investment firm, serving diverse clients including government, institutional, and private entities.

Today, Centum RE is the top real estate developer in East Africa, shaping urban centers with a substantial land bank, a robust pipeline of residential units, and a proven track record spanning over 20 years.

Their focus lies on constructing high-quality, affordable homes in desirable locations in Kenya and Uganda, catering to both investors and prospective homeowners.

The board of directors comprises non-executive directors with expertise in various sectors, while the management team boasts over 30 years of combined experience in real estate development and project finance across East Africa.

Centum Real Estate 2023 Awards

In 2023, we were honored with notable awards:

  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) bestowed Centum RE with the prestigious 2023 EDGE Champion for Africa Award, recognizing our dedication to fostering green buildings and advancing resource efficiency in the real estate industry.
  • Vipingo Development Limited was honored with the Circularity Initiative of the Year Award from the Big 5 Global Impact Awards, acknowledging our steadfast commitment to sustainable growth and excellence in construction.
  • Additionally, Centum RE received three accolades from the International Business Magazine team: Real Estate Developer of the Year, Most Sustainable Real Estate Development Kenya 2023, and Residential Project of the Year in Kenya 2023.

Given Africa’s rapid growth, what’s your outlook on its real estate future?

Africa’s economic growth is creating a good environment for building more houses and businesses. This is because more people are moving to cities, the population is increasing, and more people are joining the middle class. These things make more people want places to live and work.

Right now, 44.30% of people in Africa live in cities, and experts think this will keep going up for the next 50 years. African cities are growing faster than cities around the world because more money is coming in from other countries, and Africa is building more roads and buildings.

All of this means there will be more demand for different kinds of buildings, like houses, shops, and factories. Also, as more people join the middle class, they’ll want better places to live and shop. This creates big chances for building more things across Africa.

How do you ensure that all your community housing is resilient in the face of climate change?

Centum Real Estate

Centum RE is focused on creating sustainable mixed-use nodes to combat climate change. Partnering with the IFC, we ensure green building standards through the EDGE Certification program. Over 50% of our Nairobi projects are certified, aiming for 100% within five years. This strategy reduces emissions, boosts energy efficiency, and enhances resilience against climate impacts, earning us the 2023 EDGE Champion for Africa title.

If a foreigner is interested in investing money in real estate, how does your company assist them?

Centum Real Estate

Foreigners, like individuals, trusts, groups, or companies, can own property in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution. They follow laws like the Sectional Properties Act and Land Registration Act. But, there are two limits: First, they can only hold sectional titles or leases for up to 99 years. Second, they need government approval to own agricultural land. Centum Re’ Clientele helps foreigners, like expats, retirees, and investors, with legal advice and getting KRA PINs. Our Sales Executives or Legal Team support them through the ownership process.

How do you integrate traditional and contemporary construction methods in your projects?

Centum real estate

Centum RE employs an innovative approach to development, actively advocating for the integration of cutting-edge technology, modern construction designs, and industry trends throughout our processes.

This dedication enables us to continually improve our offerings and enhance operational efficiency to benefit our clients. For instance, by incorporating formwork and precast technology, we’ve slashed project cycle durations by up to 60% while maintaining superior quality compared to conventional methods.

Moreover, we’ve integrated smart home features, focusing on security, lighting, and waste management systems, to meet the demands for modern, stylish residences. In essence, we blend traditional and contemporary construction methodologies to ensure optimal efficiency and utmost customer satisfaction.

Tell us about the leader of the company and its team members

Kenneth Mbae, Centum real estate managing director
Kenneth Mbae, Centum real estate managing director: Image source (KB)

Mbae embarked on his professional journey in 2010 as an intern at Centum. Since then, he has navigated various leadership roles within Centum RE, accumulating hands-on expertise across all facets of real estate development, investment, and business operations.

As the Managing Director of Centum Real Estate, Kenneth spearheads the company’s overarching vision, strategic direction, investment priorities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, financial goals, and day-to-day operations.

Under Kenneth’s guidance, Centum RE has emerged as a prominent player in East Africa’s real estate sector.

Kenneth leads Centum RE to develop mixed-use urban hubs across Sub-Saharan Africa. He focuses on family, individual, and business prosperity.

Under Kenneth’s leadership, Centum RE has achieved remarkable milestones:

  • Completed and delivered 1,200 homes, with 2,100 more under construction.
  • Retired a KES 3 billion Centum RE-listed Real Estate bond using internal funds.
  • Optimized land holdings and introduced Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest sea water desalination plant.

Kenneth initiated a scholarship scheme supporting 400 disadvantaged high school students.

Before becoming Managing Director, Kenneth held key roles within Centum RE.

He holds a BSc in Biochemistry from Kenyatta University, an Advanced Management Certificate from Kenya Institute of Management, and alumni status from Harvard GSD and University of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Kenneth is affiliated with esteemed professional bodies and has received accolades, including recognition as one of the top 40 under 40 Men in the 2021 Business Daily Annual Awards.

Raphael Nyamai, General Manager (Pearl Marina Development)

Raphael assumed the role of General Manager in March 2022, tasked with overseeing project delivery across the Pearl Marina portfolio. With over 9 years of experience in real estate development and project management,

Raphael’s journey at Centum began in 2014 as a graduate trainee. Since then, he has been instrumental in driving key projects forward. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Nairobi, Raphael is currently pursuing an MBA at the same institution.

Anthony Watare, Development Manager

Anthony brings 9 years of expertise in real estate development and management to his role.

He started as a Graduate Trainee at Centum in 2014. Anthony advanced to his current role by focusing on project setup and delivery.

He completed the Enterprise Leadership Programme at the University of Oxford. Anthony also earned an MBA in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi.

Bernadette Mutuku, Chief Finance Officer

In July 2023, Bernadette became CFO of Centum Real Estate. She has 30+ years of finance leadership experience. She started at Price Waterhouse, now PwC, as an auditor. Bernadette spent 25 years at East Africa Breweries Ltd before Centum.Her extensive background provides a solid foundation for her current responsibilities.

Martin Kariuki Head of Sales and Marketing

Martin joined Centum in 2015 as a graduate trainee. He played a key role in tenancy coordination at Two Rivers Mall and commercializing residential projects in Nairobi. In 2018, he established the sales department at Centum RE. He became the sales manager in 2019. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kenyatta University. He also has a CPA (K) from KCA University and an M.Sc. in Project Management from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).