One of the most striking images a first-time visitor to Phnom Penh will encounter is a skyline dominated by endless cranes and the green-draped buildings beneath them. Cambodia’s construction boom is truly underway—the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction recently revealed that $8.5bn worth of development projects were approved in 2016 compared to just $3.3bn in 2015.
While not all of these projects will necessarily materialize, the figures illustrate the large amounts of capital being invested in condos, office space, and retail and hospitality facilities by Cambodian and foreign investors. The construction industry is Cambodia’s fastest-growing sector and directly supplies about 50,000 jobs, in addition to driving growth in related fields like engineering, architecture, and logistics.
Given the breakneck pace of development, both government regulation and corporate monitoring procedures can struggle to keep up with changing realities on the ground, suggests André de Jong, head of the Real Estate and Construction Committee (RECC) at the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia.
“We continue to witness strong growth despite a lot of speculation on whether it is a boom or a bubble”, said Mr. de Jong; “That is why the theme of this year’s forum is ‘Managing Growth’”.
The March 3rd EuroCham Real Estate and Construction Forum will see experts from the Royal Government and the private sector speak candidly on the opportunities and challenges in managing Cambodia’s real estate growth. The forum will bring together developers, construction companies, suppliers, and others in the sector to receive cutting edge policy updates from senior government officials as well as industry insights from specialists on topics like the rising demand for construction insurance, and the need for consistency in Cambodia’s real estate valuation sector.
Some confirmed speakers include Dr. Chhann Sorphal, Deputy Director General of Construction, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, H.E. Dr. Pen Sophal, Secretary of State, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning & Construction, H.E. George Edgar, Ambassador of the EU to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Oknah Sear Rithy, Chairman, Kerry Worldbridge Group, Gethin Jones, Chief Risk Officer, ANZ Royal Bank and Tom O’Sullivan, ceo of Realestate.com.kh.
While Phnom Penh has become well-acquainted with the songs of drills and hammers over the years, large-scale developments in Sihanoukville have not kept pace. One major theme of the forum will be the opportunities created by the Royal Government’s forthcoming, investor-friendly legal framework for coastal development—part of its broader strategy to transform the coastal areas of Sihanoukville, Kep, Kampot, and Koh Kong into world-class tourism destinations. To date, the primary obstacle preventing investment in these areas has been the lack of major supporting infrastructure. There are strong expectations that the new framework will incentivize the private sector to invest in public infrastructure within designated development areas. By attracting large, high-quality investors, the government is betting on the reforms to spur both the construction sector outside of Phnom Penh as well as the tourism sector outside of Siem Reap.
The 2017 Real Estate and Construction Forum is open to the public and will take place at the Raffles Le Royal Hotel on Friday March 3rd, 2017 at 8am. The daylong event costs $55 and includes lunch. Reservations are available through eurocham-cambodia.org.