Amazon has chosen South Africa as the headquarters for its future expansion into Africa, based on a mixed-use development planned for Cape Town. At present, no Amazon retail services are available on the continent.
In a separate development, Twitter has chosen Ghana for its first-ever African office.
Amazon will occupy offices in River Club, a $280m project that will consist of 150,000 sq m of buildings, divided into commercial and residential precincts, with about 118,000 sq m going to business – 70,000 sq m to Amazon – and 32,000 sq m for housing.
The scheme, which is built on land owned by the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, is in the Observatory suburb of northwest Cape Town on the estuary of the Liesbeek river. It has faced years of legal challenges from environmental and local groups over its effect on ecosystems.
However, the scheme now has official backing. Dan Plato, mayor of Cape Town, commented: "It is clear that this development offers many economic, social and environmental benefits for the area. We are committed to driving investment to revitalise the economy, which is slowly recovering following the impact of Covid-19."
The Seattle-based digital services company had previously rented space in an office block in Cape Town, but had reportedly been looking for a base of operations since 2018. The move to the River Club is expected to bring together its web and customer services departments.
The development will take place in phases over the next three to five years, and officials expect around 19,000 jobs to be created, directly and indirectly.
Twitter said in a statement: "We’re excited to announce that we are now actively building a team in Ghana. To truly serve the public conversation, we must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent."
Twitter is now looking to hire local designers, engineers, marketers and more as part of its expansion.
Image: The Observatory suburb of Cape Town is a centre for the city’s student population (Dreamstime)