Posted by: Martin | February 28, 2010

Due diligence

I am looking to possibly buy a studio apartment in the Port Bouet area of Abidjan to let on a daily basis. It is close to one of France’s largest military bases in Africa, making it a good place to stay for westerners concerned about safety and political turmoil. Or at least that’s the idea and how it worked out during the anti-French riots in 2004.

It is however difficult to foresee exactly how things will work out in the future, so investment decisions will have to be taken at some degree of uncertainty. Clearly not thinking through or not reasearching an investment properly is a danger, but trying to answer every single “what if” can be a waste of resources and time, especially in a not so stable and fast changing business environment.

If I get a good price on the Port Bouet studio I’ll go for it, given that it passes a few due diligence checks. One of which is to check that the lady who is selling it to me is really the owner, and to do this:

(1)  the title document provided by the seller needs to be checked against the land registry and
(2) a photo id of the seller should match the seller in person, and the name on the photo id should match the land registry

That’s how it is to make business in a low trust environment. The extra checks are actually not that costly or complicated, but they take a little time though, as they can’t be done by phone or email.  One needs to to go to the ministry of construction where the land registry is located and queue there until one gets access to the requested information.


Responses

  1. Having lived and worked in Abidjan now for 10 years I can assure you your presumption in your first paragraph is wrong !!

  2. Ok, is it because the French military base becomes a hotspot for demonstrations/riots? That would sound reasonable. Or why?

    What’s your take on the most desirable areas / least desirable areas to stay in Abidjan for westerners?

    And thanks for the feedback, getting one’s misconceptions straightened out may be ego-hurting but is very useful.

    • The military base (43 BIMA) is a key centre of attraction for the “jeunes patriote” who have been responsible for most of the social misbehaviour, and the only Brit who had to be helicoptered of his property lived in the area … those of us who lived in the more comfortable residential districts of Cocody – Deux Plateau – Riviera were OK, with the exception of the area close to the Presidential Residence, which is close to Hotel Ivoire, and was the centre of considerable bloodshed between the French military and JPs in Nov

      Yopougon, like Treichville are considered largely no go areas to white expatriates, and commune like Abobo – Adjame, you wouldn’t even consider.

      And don’t be taken in by photo IDs … I didn’t realise they had them on the Land Resistry !!

  3. To follow on from the previous reply, living close to the FHB airport is absolutely no guarantee of getting out of here if there were problems.

    For one reason, most airlines stop flying into Abidjan as soon as there is trouble, another is that it is notoriously difficult to secure militarily (I am ex RAF) … in 2004 the French were within 30 minutes of losing control, had reinforcements not arrived

  4. They have no photo ids at the land registry just names. I am saying that the photo on the sellers id document needs to be checked against the seller in person. Then the name on the id should be checked against the name in the registry.

    This is of course no protection against a crooked/corrupt official at the land registry colluding with the seller. For that one would need political connections, and in this case with the opposition as the Ministry of Construction under which the Land registry resides is currently in the hands of the RHDP (even after the latest government change I believe)

  5. […] face the same challenges though – reliable property title and rule of […]


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