Affordable Housing: Stakeholders look at ways to achieve goal at workshop

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3Investonline, Lagos – Stakeholders in the real estate industry gathered at a workshop tagged “Housing Stakeholders consultative workshop” on 2nd December, 2014 to discuss issues affecting affordable HOUSING in Nigeria. The workshop was organized as a pre-summit towards ensuring the success of the forth-coming 2-day Nigerian Housing and Construction summit/Expo scheduled to hold in January 2015. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban development in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance.

The workshop’s objective was to present a platform for key players and stakeholders in the private and public sectors of the economy in the housing delivery chain to discuss the challenges and issues militating against the provision of affordable housing in Nigeria. It was also to provide an excellent opportunity for key stakeholders and partners in the building and construction industry in Nigeria to brainstorm and agree on the concession and waivers that will be provided by the private and public sectors to enable all Nigerians have access to affordable housing.

Among other distinguished personnel who were present at the workshop, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during her speech highlighted the achievements of the federal Government in ensuring affordable housing for Nigerians.  She also spoke on the challenges affecting achievement of the aim of providing affordable housing while commending those who have played significant roles in assuring that affordable housing is achieved in Nigeria.

The minister who said some of the initiative of the government in providing affordable housing was the establishment of the NMRC in January 16th, 2014 as a refinancing mechanism which provides mortgage lenders with access to increase liquidity and long term finance enabling them to extend the term of the mortgages they provide.

Dr Iweala  said “NMRC has so far raised 7.05 billion Naira as shareholders capital. The NMRC will raise funds in the capital market through the periodic issuance of federal government guaranteed bonds. We hope to be able to do this perhaps raising 50 billion every 6, 9 months or so. We see this institution as a 5 billion dollar institution in the medium to long term and in the medium term I will say the longer term we should aim to double that because this is a large country and the need for liquidity will be much”

The Minister said the NMRC is partnering with state governments to make affordable housing possible. She said “So far 18 states have signed up all accepting to review extern land titling, governors’ consent, and property registration processes to make this home ownership possible. As you know it’s not just the finance alone that is the issue, we have to do so much other homework”.

To show the degree of housing problem in the country, the minister stated during the summit that when people were asked to apply to be pre-qualified for affordable housing for the available 10,000 applications, the application was oversubscribed by 6 times resulting in a total of 66,402 applications from across the country and yielding some very interesting statistics.

She encouraged stakeholders in construction sector like cement and other types of construction materials to take a bit of a cue from what Dangote has done in reducing the price of cement as it will be very helpful in achieving the aim of affordable housing.

Her Counterpart in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi commended the Dr. Okonjo who she said her ministry has really work hand in hand with her ministry in order to ensure affordable housing is achieved in the country.

The Minister who identified the problem Nigerians are facing in building their houses, said “to build a house in Nigeria is a very expensive task due to the high cost of building materials prevalence of unskilled labour, unnecessary bureaucratic bottle necks and high cost of provision of enabling infrastructure. Affordable housing cannot therefore be achieved without a drastic reduction in the cost of housing construction and other associated cost which invariably determines the selling price.”

She therefore said for affordability to thrive emphasis must shift to reducing the cost of housing construction in order to promote access to affordable homes to the vulnerable segment of our national population.

The Minister further stated the importance of the pre-summit, saying we felt it will be needful to gather all the stakeholders together to put heads together and arrive at decisions that will help to enhance the project of affordable housing so that the transformation agenda of President Jonathan, the zeal, the heart desire that he has for the housing sector will be fulfilled and Nigerians will be happy and they will appreciate the work of Mr. President.

The main summit is scheduled to hold in January 2015 with the theme; “Enabling Land, Finance, and  Concessions for Affordable Housing Delivery”