CHIKA OKEKE examines the impact of Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) and the need for more stakeholders’ participation to bolster affordable shelter in the country.
The housing sector is considered the major employer of labour across the world, given its capacity to integrate both the skilled and semi skilled workers on building and construction project.
Such projects have provided massive employment opportunities for professionals in the built sector, while also creating additional income for small scale business person’s like food vendors, security men, recharge card vendors and among others.
However, without shelter, there would be no human settlement, which is why it is considered as the second most basic needs of man aside food and clothing.
Nigeria’s housing sector is bedevilled with daunting challenges, ranging from absence of foreclosure law, difficulties in land acquisition, to delay in issuing governors consent, greed, corruption and among others.
To this end, stakeholders sought ways of transforming the sector for greater contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP).
One of such initiatives aimed at boosting activities in the sector was through the introduction of Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS).
It was innovated and currently convened by FESADEB communications Limited, the promoter of Housing TV, housing development programme showing on stations like AIT, TVC and NTA; housing time on Ray power as well as the owner of the largest housing news portal.
The show which is 100 per cent driven by the sector, kicked off over a decade ago, though with high expectation, a situation that prompted realtors to wonder if it would make the desired impact in the sector.
Since then, the AIHS has established a platform for both public and private sector stakeholders to brainstorm on addressing sector related problems in Nigeria and on the African continent.
Participants from different parts of the world who attended the previous event had revealed that not only did it create awareness on the major challenges in the housing industry and finance markets, but also focused extensively on solutions that would enable the country reduce the over 18 million housing deficit.
LEADERSHIP investigation indicated that one of the major achievements recorded through the event was the establishment of Land Geographical Information System (LGIS).
This enabled state governments to create a comprehensive data on lands and its allocation, while reducing disputes associated with land allocation.
Also, the establishment of state ministries of housing was part of the recommendations agreed by stakeholders during the show, given that housing is a critical sector that cannot be left in the hands of the federal government alone.
While some states created housing department within the ministry of works or land, the target that housing requires special treatment by state government was successfully pushed by AIHS.
Since then, there have been massive improvement in the states that implemented the recommendation.
Further findings revealed that stakeholders had canvassed the need for housing legislation by states and federal government.
LEADERSHIP also discovered that AIHS stimulated the building and construction industry in terms of design-led housing solutions, and high quality home-grown materials and products.
However, this year’s show which would be the 13th edition, would take place from July 23- -26, with over 40,000 participants expected to attend the show, considered as the biggest housing event in Nigeria.
Over 400 exhibitors, 30 international speakers and special guests from over 15 countries are expected to attend the auspicious event.
The theme of this years event: ‘Driving Sustainable Housing Finance Models in the Midst of Global Uncertainty,’ and would not only consolidate on past gains, but is projected to improve models of delivering mass and affordable housing for Nigerians.
The year’s edition is expected to feature a forum for chief executive officers (CEOs), where globally-renowned corporate heads in the sector would share their experience, knowledge and expertise with all participants.
There would also be a prospective owners’ forum, meant for those seeking the best mortgage and housing schemes available in the market today.
As an inclusive show, the Women in Housing Forum as well as the forum for young people in the sector would be more engaging this year.
In a chat with LEADERSHIP, the convener of AIHS, Mr Festus Adebayo, noted that participants would continue to canvas for the passage of all laws that would boost the development of Nigeria’s housing sector.
He recalled that during the 11th edition of the show,the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) was spurred to advocate the need for federal and state governments to adopt foreclosure law.
According to him, “There are already signs of progress on Land Use act as the Senate President of the 8th Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki was able to commence the process for amendment of the Land Use Act which has gotten to its second reading.”
Adebayo, who is also the managing director of FESADEB Communications Limited was optimistic that the incoming national assembly would ensure its eventual passage.
On corporate housing and construction partnerships, Adebayo pointed out that the show led to many corporate breakthroughs and partnerships in the areas of housing and construction.
He said that many companies and firms had through the show signed countless number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) for partnerships.
The convener listed the companies as Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) and NMRC, adding that such partnerships have over the years, led to new ideas and projects that increased affordable housing, while introducing best practises and modern technology in the construction industry.
He emphasised that the companies have been able to successfully help the Nigerian construction industry with their high-tech building innovations.
Adebayo said that many public officials have attested that the show offered them opportunity to identify the loopholes in government’s policies and how to resolve the challenges.
He identified the show as a marketplace of information, stressing that no other platform in Nigeria could unite stakeholders not only from housing, real estate and construction sectors, but also from government, investment, and capital markets to share their first-hand experience, knowledge and expertise on varied issues related directly or indirectly to housing and development.
Adebayo emphasised that the event had created local business opportunities for the host city, Abuja, due to influx of visitors and investors.
He disclosed that hospitality businesses like hotels, restaurants, parks, clubs and other social entertainments recorded lots of patronage from guests and visitors
The CEO added, “The AIHS usually hosted many stands owned by several organisations and brands seeking to introduce their new products and ideas to prospective buyers, clients and investors.”
He maintained that the registration platform provided opportunity slots for developers, entrepreneur and other businesses to book a stand and reap the benefits associated with the show.
The convener hinted that the show facilitated the exhibition of contemporary-modern roof designs, furniture and new innovations in building technology in the past years.
Mortgage banks, commercial banks and other financial institutions also reaped the benefits associated with the show.
Adebayo said that the event helped to achieve reasonable level of housing affordability, access to mortgage options and market growth for relevant stakeholders and clients in the housing and construction industry.
He disclosed that the event significantly improved the housing deficit in Nigeria and Africa, saying that it has been rated as a strong platform for networking and getting new business ideas.
Lending her voice, the executive director in charge of mobilidation, Flora Anne, said that AIHS has created and would continue to create job opportunities in the sector.
She noted that the event provided opportunities for skilled persons in the industry and other sectors, to tap into the job opportunities available at the show.
The ED said, “Manufacturing companies and exhibitors have been able to employ the services of informal labourers like plumbers, welders, carpenters and a host of other artisans through the show.”
Anne hinted that many young graduates and professionals looking for how to advance their career used the show as a stepping stone to greatness.
She stated that the show usually ended with the Nigeria Housing Awards, an award event put together to honour and celebrate firms, agencies and personalities who made giant strides in the housing sector in the past year.
The ED said through the event, participants have called on stakeholders to redeem their pledges of providing affordable housing and improve housing development generally.
She maintained that the event enabled the participating mortgage banks and estate developers to sell their products at much discounted event-rates, thereby reducing the cost of home acquisition.
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