From Kingsway to Accra Mall, the ‘Malling’ of Ghana’s retail space

BY: Edmund Smith Asante
The frontage of the Accra Mall
The frontage of the Accra Mall

Until the Accra Mall was built in 2007 in Ghana’s capital, only people privileged to travel outside the country to Europe, the Americas and other places had the chance to visit and see such huge edifices that acted as a one-stop shopping area with lots of shops trading in various consumables under one roof.

The UTCs, Kingsways, GNTCs and later the Swanzy Shopping Arcade in Accra, Chellarams, Chandirams, White Chapel, UAC and Lava departmental shops could be said to be shopping malls in their own right but would not compete in size with what we now have in the Accra, Junction, Achimota, Marina and West Hills malls, among others.

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Growing up, the mention of the then very known prestigious shops in the country always lit up the face of a child. If you behaved well you could be taken on a shopping spree by your parents.

When parents who had saved up wanted to spoil their children either on their birthdays or during global celebrations such as Christmas, those shops were the places to go.

Especially during Christmas, we were always certain to see Father Christmas (Santa) who always had some goodies for children, not to talk about toys, new clothing and shoes. And didn’t we just love it!


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 Marina Shopping Mall at the Airport City

Those ecstatic days may be gone for good with only the nostalgia of those days lingering on but perhaps they have been replaced by something better – the malls.

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Suddenly Ghana has become very fertile to site such big shopping arenas where most local, African, European and other foreign brands can be obtained.

Indeed, the retail industry has over the years experienced such a boom that most people even prefer to return home to purchase ‘abrokyire’ items from these malls for loved ones when they travel outside the country, since almost everything thinkable is on retail in the country currently.

Wholesale and retail trade, value added in Ghana, was reported at US$ 4,284,155,174 billion in 2011, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators.

According to the Oxford Business Group’s 2017 report on Ghana, “Ghana’s retail sector has grown significantly in recent years, attracting a swathe of international retail chains and brands. This is thanks to a growing middle class, a largely young and urban population and a relatively underdeveloped formal retail market.

 Game is a major stakeholder in the malls

The report adds that “With recent changing economic conditions, including high inflation and interest rates, limited and irregular power supplies, currency depreciation and a multiplication of taxes, sector growth may have slowed down, yet there is still room for expansion.”

Lifesavers

Patrons see shopping malls as life savers because they can do all their shopping in one place, as well as window shop, have some fun and grab a bite if the pocket is heavy. At the outset of the mall revolution many people from the lower middle class to the low class shied away from such places thinking that prices would be exorbitant.

It is perhaps to attract such people who form the largest clientele now that shops in the malls have resorted to one promotion or the other to attract high patronage.

One such innovation is the Game shops which periodically reduce the prices of specific items listed in a brochure for a period to attract more sales.

The first mall in the Ashanti Region, the Kumasi City Mall

The shopping malls don’t only have eateries, but also movie theatres and occasionally organise fun activities either for children or the family; plus, it is a place to stretch one’s legs if bored in the house – and yes, there are several shops which have on sale many items for the home and for all sexes and age groups.

There may be no haggling at shops located in the malls but as pertains in Europe, some shops periodically offer customers great and exciting deals and promotions which ensure a good buy.

Heavy investment

Putting up malls, nonetheless, comes at a very high cost and available figures put the cost incurred in putting up Ghana’s premier mall – the Accra mall, at $36 million.

Occupying an area of 25,500m², the mall which was built by Actis of London, has close to 70 shops with the ground floor consisting of global sports brands, high-end jewellery outlets, phone and electronic shops as well as clothing boutiques comprising trendy African-inspired fashions such as Woodin and Vlisco. Upstairs is Silverbird, a cinema hall that shows the latest blockbusters, as well as Nollywood and Ghanaian films.

 West Africa’s largest mall, West Hills Mall

The A & C Mall/Square built in 2000 and located at East Legon, Accra, is tagged as the first shopping and retail centre in Ghana which later expanded to become a mall, now called A&C Square. Comprising about 30 shops, it occupies an area of 6,000m².

In the same category as A & C is Melcom Plus Complex, an upgraded version of the Melcom shop, which has in the last 25 years become one of Ghana’s great retail successes. Melcom is now Ghana’s largest chain of retail complexes, with almost 30 shops currently in operation. The biggest of the shops is in the North Industrial Area of Accra, where the mall’s three floors cover almost anything imaginable.

The mall fervor increased from 2013 with the Marina Mall owned by the Marina Group (Burkina Faso) and located at the Airport City in Accra on a space measuring 12,250m² springing up.

Marina Mall is made up of three floors of shops, with the top level also hosting a food court with a welcome café and a couple of fast food outlets. Most of the ground floor has been dedicated to a large supermarket that houses a large array of foreign goods and a technology store and pharmacy. There is also a children’s play area.

Enter the Junction Shopping Mall in November 2014 located at the Nungua Barrier in Accra which has become a very popular rendezvous for people living in Nungua, Tema and its environs. Available estimates give the cost of the project that occupies a land area of 11,597m² and is owned by RMDWestPort (South Africa), at $33.7 million.

The Accra Kingsway Departmental Store

Largest Mall

The latest shopping mall in Accra built by Delico Property Development with architecture by Mobius Architecture, is the West Hills Mall.

Tagged as the largest mall in West Africa, the shopping edifice owned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and Delico Property Development (Mauritius), is located at Dunkonah in the western part of Accra, near Weija and Kasoa on the Cape Coast road.

It is built on a 23-acre (27,700m²) piece of land at $93 million and has about 65 shops and an underpass bridge that allows access to the shopping centre to reduce the human-vehicular traffic as experienced with the Accra Mall.

Kumasi City Mall

It was the turn of Ghana’s largest city, Kumasi, to experience the mall boom on April 20, 2017 with the opening of the Kumasi City Mall (KCM) to the general public.

Kumasi’s first modern shopping mall is located at Asokwa, on the confluence of Lake Road, Yaa Asantewa Road and Hudson Street, and sits on a total land area of 15.4 acres with 18,500 square metres as the space to let and a potential for further expansion of up to 10,000 square metres.

The $95 million KCM is a semi-closed shopping facility, which, according to the developer, Delico Property Investments Limited, has been specially designed to reflect the local environment and lifestyle in Kumasi, adopting highly innovative and cutting-edge technology in real estate development in the construction process.

The edifice’s columns and ceilings are designed to portray and present an artistic view of the trees and forest elements which characterise greenery in the Ashanti Region and it has the complement of a total car parking capacity of over 1,000 bays on-grade as well as undercover basement.

The KCM just like some other malls in Accra, is anchored by two well-known retail operators in Ghana, namely Shoprite and Game, and has 60 line shops offering a variety of goods and services in various retail categories, including grocery and foodstuffs, lifestyle, beauty and wellness, electronics and telecommunications, budget and designer fashion and clothing.

Other shops deal in pharmaceuticals, gifts and high value jewellery, restaurants and eateries banking and financial services, entertainment, children’s games and recreation.

Common features

Other well-known shops that can be found at the malls include Mr Price, The Palace, and Edgars.
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