Stakeholders seek new roadmap, technology to tackle housing deficit

By Blessing Oziwo

Real estate experts have stated the need to deploy a new approach, including sustainable and renewable technology that would speed up the construction of affordable housing and reduce the huge deficit in the country.

They noted that over 40 per cent of Nigeria’s population living in urban areas is projected to grow at 4.2 per cent due to the high fertility rate, hence the emergence of fresh demand for housing, adding that the development of new housing estates and increase in the size of existing ones would go a long way to mitigate the challenge.

The experts spoke at the 16th Africa International Housing Show (AIHS) in Abuja. Leading the call, the Group Head, Sales and Marketing, Dangote Cement, Rabiu Umar, said the disparity in the growth and metrics between rural and urban settlements has resulted in a housing shortage crisis in spite of the government’s interventions.

Umar, who spoke during a special session themed: ‘Dangote Cement – Championing Innovations for Real Estate Development in Nigeria,’ said there was the need to address housing imbalance through innovative strategies.

He said: “We have several platforms which are designed to attend to challenges and peculiar needs of the real estate development industry in the country. Given the high cost of developing new estates and in providing affordable houses, Dangote group has come up with some recommendations, some of which are in place and some of which are new.”

He said the government could support the development of real estate by providing the land, while private sector operators, including mortgage institutions, provide the funding.

The President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Toyin Ayinde, said the persistent predicament of low-cost or affordable housing was a result of the ‘conspiracy of the rich’.

Ayinde, who was represented by the first National Vice President of the institute, Nathaniel Atebije, said: “If the political elites in Nigeria think that the only way to develop is to do it haphazardly, then, there is no hope for the poor.”

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He said one of the cardinal issues that hinder the low-income earners in the country from enjoying affordable housing is connected to a location, adding that rural settlements, which obviously house the greater number of the nation’s population, are not given proper attention as it pertains to planning and development.

Also speaking, Director of Research and Innovations Office, University of Lagos and Founder of Ideal Habitat Initiative, Prof. Timothy Nubi, said affordability should be addressed by the income of the people, cost and payment scheme.

He advised that the Family Homes Fund should not only focus on building new homes but also engage in renovating existing structures.

On his part, Sam Odia of Millard Fuller Foundation, disclosed that the firm is building climate-smart, energy efficient and fully serviced homes at affordable prices, adding that the project is aimed at delivering sustainable and affordable housing for all.

Mr Andrew Nevin of PWC Nigeria explained that real estate is very important, in the sense that everyone has a place to work and a place to live.

Contributing, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Prof. Izam Yohana argued that housing and the price of cement are important elements in constructing homes. He stressed the need to check the rising prices of the materials.

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