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Take it or leave it, the real estate market is facing a seismic change.Digital disruption is all-pervasive, with technology integrated into our everyday lives. Digital innovation is changing economies and markets, reinventing the way business is done in all industries across the globe.

No industry is untouched. Some have been impacted immediately, and others, such as real estate, are just now feeling the profound influence of the digital transformation. Digital disruption has not saved real estate.

In Uganda, Commercial and industrial property segments of the real estate market are slowly and gradually feeling the tides and tsunamis of technological disruption and innovation.

At the same time, real estate owners, investors, developers and managers need to take notice and adapt business models and delivery systems to embrace this change.

This includes myriad real estate issues, such as building construction, sustainability, site selection, accessibility to infrastructure and amenities, branding, property management and a wide array of other issues specific to each real estate asset class.

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Office space: employees work anywhere, anytime, Retail: Consumers can shop anywhere, anytime and Industrial: High tech and advanced manufacturing poised for a rebound

In Uganda, banks have been among the major clients for the real estate market. However, things are beginning to change. With the advance in technology, leading commercial banks in Uganda are slowly and gradually reducing rental space. They are taking on relatively small spaces, as they adopt modern technology.

READ: Property crush awaits Kampala

It’s clear that digital innovation will affect all real estate asset classes as space users and advanced technologies continue to transform workplaces, shopping centers, distribution centers, homes and so on. Mobile employees and consumers will transform how they work, shop and live. As a result, their associated real estate requirements will change.

The banks leading the game in Uganda include: Standard Chartered, Stanbic Bank and Barclay’s banks. These banks are increasing adopting technology in their operations- enabling their clients to do transactions themselves anywhere, anytime. This is reducing the need for clients to come to the banks.

Take a case of Stanbic Bank Acacia Mall branch. There are about three staff at any one time. The branch is a typical example of future of banking in Uganda.

Last year, Standard Chartered Bank announced an investment of $1.5bn in technology over the next three years.

Already, through Standard Chartered Mobile, clients can check their account balances and transfer money securely, using their smart phones. The bank is also upgrading its online banking platform to enable improved navigation and user friendly interfaces on the Bank’s websites.

Stanbic bank’s FlexiPay, a school fees payments and collections solution gives parents and educational institutions greater convenience, savings and flexibility.

The platform gives them the ability to pay and receive their school fees securely and conveniently using either Stanbic’s digital payment solutions, Mobile Money.

FlexiPay can be used anywhere anytime, from your mobile phone. Does this mean anything to Stanbic Bank landlords?

This is the same bank that a few years chose to sell all her building and decided to rent out. They were reading into the future.

This ultimately means banks will be reducing rental space. Does this mean anything for property developers?

Does this spell doom that demand for big office space is coming down? Insiders in the industry are saying that this is the trend.

It is clear; digitization is the way to go for banks. Across the border, Kenyans are doing more using their smart phones.

Last year, Ecobank Kenya closed nine of its 29 branches, and encourages more clients to shift to digital banking.

“The decision to close the nine branches was arrived at early this year [2016] after we reviewed our business operating model and elected to use more effective and efficient ways of serving our customers – like digital banking,” said Ecobank Kenya MD and Regional Executive, Sam Adjei.

There are an estimated two million smart phone users in Uganda. According to Uganda Broadcasters Association, there more than 2 million Face book users while more than 12 million Ugandans have access to internet. Are we seeing more Ugandans using digital technology?

Are restaurants moving in the same direction? New players like KFC are instead opting for drive through. Within three minutes, your order is ready. And With Jumia Food, your food can delivered at your convenience –office or home. At KFC Bukoto, your order is delivered in ten minutes.

Are we seeing supermarkets moving in the same direction? With services like Pay It Global, the future of retail shopping is going to change.

Besides paying for your bills, Top up your phone lines, with Pay It Global you can also, buy the vouchers you want, pay the installments you prefer and other payment services.


Digitization is upon us. It is not only real estate, everyone will be affected. Prepare now or you will get caught unaware.

Digitization is also expected to force businesses to change their customer contact strategies- to digital customer contact. Already some businesses have adopted this. Otherwise, there will be limited direct interface.Are you ready for this revolution?

More about the author: Moses Kaketo



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