Nigeria’s Housing Initiatives Neither Consistent nor Measurable, Says Fashola

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Over the years, Nigeria has embarked on a series of housing initiatives but not one of them has been pursued with consistency or any measurable sustainability, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fahola told a meeting called by Shelter Afrique, reports Bennett Oghifo

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola said he is convinced that Nigeria has over the years embarked on unsustainable efforts in housing provision that “must change, and give way to a sustainable and well thought out initiative.”

Fashola stated this at the 35th AGM of Shelter Afrique and Housing Symposium, which held in Abuja, recently.
“We are convinced that this change must be led by Government and subsequently driven by the private sector.” He stated his reason for this and in the process, revealed the road map of Ministry for Housing.

He explained that the public housing initiative of the United Kingdom was started by government in 1918 and that as of 2014, 64.8% of UK’s 53 million people were home owners.
The Singaporean initiative, he said was started by government in 1960 and that it has provided housing for 80% of its 3 million people.

He said, “What is common to both model, is that there was a uniformity of design, a common target to house working class people, and not the elite, standardisation of fittings like doors, windows, space, electrical and mechanical, and also a common concept of neighborhood.”

Shelter Afrique’s intervention…
Fashola then presented highlight of Shelter Afrique’s report, which he said the institution’s managing director gave him and said, “It does not share these characteristics.”

The report, he said stated that “Between 2005 and 2010, Shelter Afrique in Nigeria had financed 23 initiatives with a total of $52,175,000 (Approximately N10.435 Billion @N200 = $1.00). Of these initiatives, 15 representing lending for construction of housing projects, out of which the largest was for $7 million for 376 houses of different types, and 251 serviced plots, followed by 287 mixed housing units for a cooperative society, 55 housing units and 100 Service plots and the least was for 16 maisonettes. This is the intervention on the supply side of housing to provide houses.

“The remaining eight interventions were for mortgage financing to building societies, credit line for individual mortgages and related financing, on the demand side of housing, to provide finance.”
He said the “other parts of the report also showed a financing of $60,400,000 (Approximately N12.08 billion @N200/$1.00) over the last 3 (three) years in 10 (ten) interventions.

Out of these 10, seven were for housing construction namely (i) 287 units, 90 units, 15 floor commercial complex, 59 housing units, 300 housing units, 130 apartments and 44 housing units on the supply side.

“The remaining 3 (three) interventions were for equity investment in the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) ($3M); and credit lines for on-lending for mortgage totaling $13 Million (N2.6 billion).”
He said the report shows funding for diverse initiatives such as service plots, commercial complex, apartments, and mixed housing.

Fashola said, “I am mindful that Shelter Afrique is not the only interventionist in the market, but I think that if we use this as a case study and benchmark ourselves, we can improve our efforts by measuring our progress and trying new things.”

The minister said the symposium’s topic ‘Housing Africa’s Urban Low Income Population’, was a good reason for him to begin his presentation with an assessment of the impact of Shelter Afrique’s intervention “because I believe that what is not measured does not get done, and what is measured can be improved upon.”

Nigeria’s housing situation…
Fashola said after he announced that the federal government would be building houses, “We have received scores of proposals from people and something that is common to an overwhelming majority is that they all want to build 10,000 units of housing.

“Now I don’t know what is so attractive about the number 10,000 but I would certainly love to see houses built in such large numbers. However, our interrogation of these proposals show that none of the people who want to build 10,000 houses can show us where they have previously built 500 houses to show their capacity.”
He said a sizable number of them were road construction companies, saying he was aware that the logistics for road construction were quite different from those for housing construction.

“Some of them want to build duplexes and I think we all agree that this is not where the demand of Africa’s urban low income lies. One of them who had signed a contract to deliver a 1,000 housing unit estate since around 2013 has run into difficulty after building 84 units.”

He said many of the PPP housing initiatives entered into have either stalled as a result of funding, lack of capacity, land disputes or court cases, adding that “this is not the road to sustainability.”
A lot of money, he said “has passed through the African continent from oil, Agro- produce, mining, trade and other sources, but it is yet to deliver on the promise of prosperity that lies on the horizon.”

The Housing Plan…
Fashola said the nation has a policy statement on housing but that he was working on a plan. The first key to the roadmap in housing was proper planning, he said, adding that it was crucial to successful execution, project completion, to cost control and reduction in variation requests and financial calculations.

“I acknowledge that there is, for example, a national housing policy of 2012. Some have chosen to call it a plan.
“To the extent that it is a broad statement of intent about providing housing, it is a policy statement. A plan is what is needed and it is what we are currently developing, to make the housing policy a reality. Our plan requires first a clear understanding of who we want to provide housing for.”

Those the government targets in its plan are not people who want land to build for themselves, who want town houses and duplexes but those in the majority and those who are most vulnerable, particularly “those who graduated from University about five years ago and more. People who are in the income bracket of grade level 9 to 15 in the public service and their counterparts, taxi drivers, market men and women, farmers, artisans who earn the same range of income.

The minister said “12 states have responded to the request for land and while we expect more responses, we are taking the next step to survey these plots of land and develop layouts, preparatory to commencing development.”
According to him, “Our plan requires us to conduct a survey of these people to determine what they expect and what they can pay.

“Our plan requires us to evolve agreeable housing types, between 2 to 4 designs that have a broad, national cultural acceptance.

“Our plan requires us to standardize these designs so that we can then design moulds to accelerates the number that can be built. Our plan requires us to standardize the size of our doors, windows, our toilet and bath fittings, our lighting fittings and other accessories so that our small and medium enterprises can respond to supply all the building materials, create diversification and jobs; and ensure that projects are completed with a steady supply of materials.

“Our plan requires us to ensure that the designs reflect our behavioral patterns, such as adequate storage, and other lifestyle needs.
“Our plan requires us to ensure that there is ready water supply, power supply, waste and sewage management.
Our plan requires us to pay attention to the transport needs and land density prescriptions of the communities that we build.

Our plan requires us to ensure that the process of issuing legal title is in place. Our plan requires us to focus on post-construction maintenance to ensure that the houses remain in good condition after they have been sold to the owners.”