The need for a crash in the cost of housing has dominated major discourse in the housing and construction sector due to the over 17 million hoausing deficit and high cost of tenancy fees that led to increased slum settlements across major cities in the country.
To this end, stakeholders at the just concluded Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) renewed calls for affordable housing and enhanced mortgage system. The theme of the expo, “Driving Growth & Sustainability in Nigeria’s Housing & Mortgage Markets- Improving Structures and Policies for Impact” commenced on 16th and ended on 19th July.
It pulled stakeholders from Nigeria and abroad with the aim of developing frameworks and formulating policies for sustainable housing and mortgage financing in Nigeria. The four -day event featured exhibition of products and services from over 30 exhibitors.
It was organised by Fesadeb Communications Limited, producers of housing development programme on African Independent Television (AIT) and other major networks. In her address, the deputy minister of works and housing Ghana, Hon Freda Prempeh tasked Nigerian government on the need to explore the use of new technology in the building industries in order to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit.
Prempeh suggested that government and other stakeholders should be more innovative and creative in reducing the cost of houses adding that housing is a capital intensive area. She said that Ghanaian government is battling to address its 1.7m housing deficit but called on Nigerian government to create an enabling environment to attract more private sector participation in the built environment.
Prempeh described high cost of building as the main constraint of housing in the region, adding that there are many luxury homes on prime areas in Ghana that are yearning for buyers. Declaring the event open, the minister of state power, works & housing, Surv. Suleiman Zarma said that the ministry’s policy on housing is to strengthen the mortgage sector by providing 6 percent single digit interest rate through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
He stated that the present administration desires to make the housing sector vibrant by creating numerous jobs for artisans, stressing that the theme of the event is one of the revolutionary input of the administration.
Zarma said though the National Housing Programme (NHP) is on course but was optimistic that it would be enhanced as a result of the communique that would emanate from the housing show.
On her part, the former minister of land, housing and urban development, Mrs. Amal Pepple wondered why the challenges in the housing sector like funding, lack of infrastructure, high cost of building materials and among others remained unchanged despite exiting from the ministry years back.
She enjoined developers to rethink and build for low and medium income earners instead of building high-rise and expensive houses that would be unaffordable. This she said is one of the major reasons why there are huge number of completed and vacant houses dotting the landscape of major commercial cities, even as she called on governments to actively participate in building houses.
Pepple lamented the inability of governments to utilise the services of indigenous artisans notwithstanding the existence of local content in the housing sector. The convener of AIHS, Barr. Festus Adebayo described the event as a one stop-shop for construction industry stakeholders offering new products, innovative services and technology.
He maintained that the show is a unique forum where practitioners in the housing and construction industry meet to exchange ideas and proffer solutions to problems in the sector.
Also, the managing director/ chief executive of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Arc Ahmed Dangiwa harped on easy access to land, increase of disposable income and recapitalisation of housing institutions to foster effective housing development. This he believed would contribute to protection of public interest, protection of the market and the removal of regulatory procedures, aimed at reducing high transaction cost.
The minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Musa Bello said that since the mid-2000 that funds allocated to FCT administration by the federal government has continued to dwindle, thereby making it difficult for the FCTA to cater for the large influx of people into the city daily.
He noted that in line with the private sector-driven housing policy in Nigeria that FCTA initiated a mass housing scheme under its Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme in the year 2000. The minister stated that the scheme was targeted at reducing the over 1.7 million housing deficit in FCT, emphasising the need to create an enabling environment for private sector participation.
Bello who was represented by the coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Mallam Shuaibu Umar disclosed that FCT administration would provide primary infrastructure and allocate lands to private developers under the programme.
The Secretary to the State Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha emphasised that government alone cannot solve the housing problems. The SGF, who was represented by the permanent secretary on politics and economic, Mr. Gabriel Aduda said that unless issues bordering on interest rate are addressed, that Nigeria would continue to move in a circus in the provision of housing.
One of the exhibitors, who is the assistant manager of Eteleson industries, manufacturers of Solignum wood preservatives, Mr Gosife Etele rated the show high even as he called on developers to use Solignum to avoid attracting termites in the houses. He was optimistic that AHIS has helped the company to showcase its products and services adding that the wood preservatives costs between N12, 000 to N19, 000.
However, the minister of state power, works & housing, Babatunde Fashola bagged an award as the ‘ Best Performing Minister of PW&H in Recent Years’. Also, the Niger state governor; Abubakar Bello was recognised as the ‘Smart City Governor of the Year’ while the former minister of housing, land and urban development, Amal Pepple was honoured with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and among others.
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