By Obinna Chima
The federal government is targeting the creation of 1.8 million jobs through the construction of 300,000 homes in the next 12 months, as part of initiatives to stimulate growth in the economy.
The mass housing strategy is part of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari recently, by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Sustainability Committee.
According to the 76-page report obtained by THISDAY at the weekend, the project which is estimated to cost N317 billion, is expected to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and Federal Housing Authority.
The strategy envisages a two-track approach. The first track is aimed at easing bottlenecks in the delivery of social housing while the second track would deliver affordable homes through direct government interventions in house construction.
“In addition to the jobs created in the process of increasing the national housing stock, the strategy will also motivate increased domestic production of building materials.
“Features of the strategy include developing standardised home design to streamline production methods and costs, engagement with States Governments to provide suitable land banks and giving construction contracts with guaranteed off-take to a mix of established developers and consortiums of young professionals in the building sector (architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, accountants, etc.) as small and medium scale contractors.
“These groups will in turn generate the associated artisanal jobs. In addition, construction sites will function like factories for the light manufacture of inputs for house construction, such as locks, keys, nails, doors, window frames, cement bricks, paint plants, etc. to be used on location,” it stated.
According to the plan, in order to create indirect jobs and save on costs, it is intended that all the materials to be used in the houses would be produced in Nigeria.
Financing would be arranged through the designation of a Homes’ Warehousing Agent who would purchase the completed homes from the developer teams and from whom individual buyers will eventually purchase homes.
“In Track 2, between them, the Federal Housing Authority, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and the Public Building and Housing Development Programme will support the creation of construction and associated jobs over the next 12 months.
“This will involve building 10,840 units of low, medium and high income units across the six geopolitical zones.
“Under the Public Building and Housing Development Programme, a further 12,008 houses,” it stated.
It also disclosed that for the construction of houses to continue uninterrupted across the country, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, CBN and the Family Homes Fund (under the Ministry of Finance) are making arrangements for purchase through cooperatives and for warehousing of completed houses, which would then be mortgaged or let out on rent-to-own basis.
In addition, part of the plan is to develop a mass agricultural programme: This is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation.
According to the document, the aim is to create millions of job opportunities, directly and indirectly, over a 12-month period.
“A significant number of Nigerians will be incentivised to engage in farming and agro-processing, as that is a field in which Nigeria has comparative advantage.
“The Minister of Agriculture and the CBN Governor have agreed a detailed plan of action in this regard,” it added.
“The Solar Power Strategy will support 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation of 5 million Solar Home systems and mini-grids. Provision of reliable electricity to health clinics will also be included as a priority.
“The project will swiftly increase the stock of affordable energy by providing solar power to rural communities that have little or no access to the national grid. Private sector installers of solar systems will be supported to access low-cost financing from development finance institutions and the CBN in order to install solar systems at an affordable price.
“The project will also draw on the experience of the ‘Energising Economies’ project through which customers with low energy demand were provided with electricity on a monthly ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis by private sector operators. The project will also promote the local production of solar components and appliances, taking advantage of the work that has already been done in this regard by the NASENI and others,” it added.