Stories by Maduka Nweke
Affordable housing in Nigeria has become as popular with successive governments and private individuals as the recurrent decimals in government policies when the later talks of giving the populace dividends of governance.
The inability to define the word ‘affordable’ and situate it within the climes of origin has remained the reason Nigeria has not been able to tackle the challenges militating against provision of affordable housing to its teeming population. This is so because when we talk of affordability, we are to consider a lot of factors that relate to cost, comfort, proximity to markets, church, mosque, recreational facilities and office. In that wise, the availability of essential facilities with commensurate pricing makes an accommodation affordable to the particular person in question.
The challenges of providing affordable housing in Nigeria are very well known and have been rehearsed over and over to the extent that Nigerians rather doubt there is anything new to add. The challenges highlighted are therefore not new and are listed more by way of reminder of the issues that need to be addressed with sincerity if government is serious about tackling the massive housing deficit in Nigeria and in particular the provision of affordable housing.
The latest figures available indicate that Nigeria has an estimated population of 170 million people, which is growing by approximately 2.8 per cent per annum going by World Bank report. It is also estimated that there is an 18-million-unit deficit in housing stock and that Nigeria needs to build approximately 700,000 housing units annually if it is to make a noticeable impact on the deficit. Presently, Nigeria is barely building 100,000 housing units annually.
The true scale of the housing deficit challenge can be seen from the fact that it is estimated that 108 million Nigerians are ‘homeless’ based on an average family of six people per housing unit.
Giving insight into the problems of affordable housing in the country, Mr. Longe Eguarekhide, President, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), said that land availability is key in the provision of affordable housing.
He said,”land at affordable rates is critical to any housing plan anywhere in the world, more so in Nigeria as the potency for economic transformation that a coordinated housing strategy portends should make governments contribute land for free as future municipal taxes could recover the cost of this equity.
According to Mr. Dele Martins, who delivered a keynote address during the unveiling of a new brand for Knightstone Properties Limited recently, several factors have been adduced by analysts and experts in the real estate and allied sectors for the absence of affordable housing in Nigeria.
•Unfavourable government policies, lack of mortgages for potential buyers and unstable investment environment.
•Difficulties and lack of transparency associated with acquiring affordable land for the development of affordable housing, as well as the bureaucracy associated with obtaining title documents to acquired or transferred land.
•Exorbitant cost of consent and other fees associated with the transfer of land.
•Unavailability and difficulty of accessing affordable mortgages for the purchase of houses by individuals.
•Bureaucracy and difficulties associated with obtaining building and other regulatory approvals for the construction of affordable housing.
•The high and escalating cost of building materials and over dependence on imported building materials.
•Non-alignment of the interests of the various stakeholders particularly the developers, commercial and mortgage banks on the one hand and the intended beneficiaries of affordable housing on the other. The former wants to maximise profit while the latter wants housing that is cheap, decent and affordable.
•Unstable and unfavourable exchange rate policies.
•Absence of fiscal incentives by government to make affordable housing development attractive.
•Lack of provision by government of the primary infrastructure required to support the development of affordable estates including roads as well as access to water and electricity.
•Indiscipline and corruption in the implementation of affordable housing schemes.
“I have no doubt that more items can be added to the above list but for present purposes, it gives us an idea of what issues need to be tackled. The importance of housing to the citizenry in Nigeria could be underscored by the fact that it is mentioned immediately after food on the list of needs of man.
“If we are to succeed in our claimed quest for the provision of affordable housing to the citizens of Nigeria and in particular, low income earners, there is an urgent need for government at all levels to approach the subject holistically, sincerely and with a great deal of commitment.
“Government at all levels need to lead the formulation of a comprehensive policy designed with the input of all stakeholders, and implemented with zeal and vigour at all levels. At the heart of every policy must be the interests of the target beneficiaries of affordable housing.
“In essence, there is a need to work to a predetermined answer starting from a clear definition of what constitutes affordable housing not only in Nigeria as a whole but in each sub-region or division of Nigeria. What is affordable in Lagos State may constitute luxury in Oyo State and what is affordable in Badagry will differ from what is affordable in Ikorodu and each case depends on the prevailing socio-economic conditions in each locality or sub-division,” he said.
Martins further said that after determining what is affordable for each locality or region, an appropriate design of house should now be made to fit the benchmark for the relevant area.
“As much as possible, the construction materials to be used should come from the locality or region in which the affordable housing is to be constructed so that employment is generated for the local people and cost of construction fits the relevant local profile. In fact, local artisans and contractors should be encouraged to form themselves into cooperatives to bid for the supply of local construction materials,” he noted.
He said, “the design of house should start from prevailing living conditions and, without transforming the prevailing culture or way of living, simply aim to put in more order, structure and functionality, as well as the basic facilities which any dwelling unit should have.
“An individual whose income level can only support a bedsit or face-me-I-face-you would not be able to afford a one-bedroom flat and an affordable housing scheme based around one-bedroom flats would simply disenfranchise him. On the other hand, an individual can start from a decent bedsit or face-me-I-face-you and gradually move up the ladder as his economic condition improves.
“Once we have a tailor made design of house that links affordability to prevailing income and earning capacity, all stakeholders on the supply side including banks, mortgage institutions and developers led and galvanised by government should work towards delivering housing that is within the predetermined budget that is affordable to the target beneficiary.
“Government has the lion’s share of the responsibility not in building the houses but in setting and enforcing the necessary policies that ensure that the desired goal is achieved. The fact that government controls all land within its jurisdiction should make it easy to knock practically all other stakeholders on the supply side into line and ensure that they deliver a product that is affordable to the ultimate target beneficiary.
“Government is also responsible for providing primary infrastructure or creating an enabling environment for the private sector to do so and charge a predetermined price that is affordable to those who will use the infrastructure by way of toll for roads and charges for water and electricity. The important thing is that there must be no room for profit maximisation. The charges must reflect transparent cost plus a reasonable margin to ensure that investment is recouped over a reasonable long term period. In fact, once the infrastructure is constructed, government should facilitate its sale to long term investors desiring a steady and regular income stream so that the developer can take its money and move to the next project,” he concluded.
In the words of Mr. David Obodoeze, an interior decorator, government is also responsible for ensuring that there is extreme transparency in the process of allocating land for the development of affordable housing in each locality. He said the price payable for such land should obviously reflect the earning capacity of the people who live or are targeted to move there.
“The payment of such price should be deferred till after completion of the project and should be collected in affordable instalments directly from the ultimate beneficiary over a long term period.
“There are huge untapped and idle funds in the country, which government should harness and find a way of channelling into the development of affordable housing by giving the necessary backing and guarantees to the owners of such funds especially those who desire a steady income stream over a long term period,” he stressed.
Real estate, vehicle for wealth creation, says expert
By Sampson Unamka
Chief Executive Officer, Common Sense Group (CSG), Mr. Olumide Emmanuel, has said that real estate still remains the vehicle for wealth creation in the country.
Emmanuel, who made this known while speaking at the Pertinence Limited international business mega summit and promo launch in Egbeda, Lagos, said “real estate is the secret because you see, when it comes to creating wealth, you need vehicles.”
According to him, in the world of finances, people talk about vehicle of wealth creation and that means there is a vehicle that takes you from your present financial situation to your desired financial destination.”
He said: “What we are trying to do is to help people understand that for you to get to your desired financial destination, you need to choose the right vehicle. And one of the best vehicles you can choose is real estate. That’s what we are pushing down today, the power of real estate”.
He, however, noted that a lot of people want to create wealth, be financially free and also be sure that when they retire, all will be well with them. But they don’t know how to go about it, adding that real estate is a secret to achieving those dreams.
Speaking on the promo launch, the Co-Founder and Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development, Pertinence Limited, Wisdom Ezekiel, said: “The international business mega summit is a platform where we want to launch our international penetration. Before now, we’ve been doing business in Nigeria. But as I speak to you now, we have new businesses in the United Kingdom, United States and even in Dubai. So we are using this platform to launch that step we have taken,” said Ezekiel.
He said the company decided to make its programmes memorable and also to give back to the society and to people who have been loyal to it over the years, by giving out free plots of land, an all-expense-paid trip to Dubai. and a two-bedroom apartment to their customers.
Eko Atlantic City unveils first residential building
Eko Atlantic City, the unique and innovative development in a vibrant environment with 21st Century facilities on the coast of Lagos, is set to celebrate a client’s major development with the unveiling of the first completed residential building – the Eko Pearl Towers.
The development comes in addition to the commissioning of the Eko Boulevard, Nigeria’s first eight-lane city road last year.
Eko Pearl Towers, the first residential development in Eko Atlantic City, is a set of high-rise buildings, privately owned and developed by the leading Eko Pearl Construction Company. The development, which is situated about 500 meters away from the financial centre of Lagos on Eko Atlantic City, consists of five high rise residential towers, each topped with deluxe penthouse types, two and three bedroom apartments exuding a luxurious home experience with a view of the Lagos coastline. It will be unveiling the first tower, the Black Pearl, with the second, the Champagne Pearl, scheduled to be completed in 2017.
The Eko Pearl Towers will range from 24 – 33 floors; four apartments per floor, two apartments on the royal penthouse floors, a technical floor, terrace floor, a ground floor and a basement floor. Facilities at the new residential building include a pool, tennis court, squash court, fitness centre, meeting rooms, lounges and leisure areas suitable for families and professionals.
Ongoing developments by other clients in Eko Atlantic City include the Azuri Peninsula, the Eko Energy Estate and Alpha 1. The Marina district is one of the most stunning residential and commercial hubs in Eko Atlantic, offering city living at its finest. A sweeping pedestrian promenade encircles the Marina offering inspiring views in every direction, from the sleek ocean-going yachts to the ultra-modern architecture. Strolling into the vibrant piazza will reveal a myriad of al fresco bars, world-class restaurants and enticing boutiques forming a stylish and cosmopolitan place to meet.
Speaking on the development, the Vice Chairman, South Energyx Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Ronald Chagoury Jr., said the completion and unveiling of the Eko Pearl Towers marks a significant milestone for the Eko Atlantic project.
“We are very excited to see the city come to life, with the first set of residents moving into the city and we look forward to the completion of other landmark projects within the city,” he said.
Eko Atlantic City is expected to provide homes to about 450,000 residents and 300,000 commuters.