Nasarawa Technology Village an Innovative Housing Project’

The Nasarawa State Government recently signed a Joint Venture Development Agreement with ABS Blueprint Ltd., a construction and real estate company for the development of a Technology Village. Mohammed Yamusa Sulaiman, a Quantity Surveyor, the Chief Executive Officer of ABS Blueprint says it will be an Iconic Project and it is hoped that the project will be a reference point for other States across the country when completed.

Can you tell us briefly about yourself?

I’m Yamusa Sulaiman. I’m a Quantity Surveyor, the founder and CEO of ABS Blueprint Ltd. I’m from Nasarawa State. I’m a business man and an executive strategist.

What kind of services do you offer?
Well, ABS blueprint is primarily a Construction and Real Estate Company, but we offer services that are fully integrated in the construction industry, which includes other professional services like consultancy, project management etc basically the services that span planning to execution and completion of projects.

What inspired the establishment of ABS?
I’m in the industry, as I mentioned earlier, I am a Quantity Surveyor, I’ve always had an interest to be able to do business in my field. But, when I was a kid, I had an interest in construction. It’s something I’ve always had a passion for. So, I’ve always been inclined towards the industry right out of school. Immediately I graduated, I started practicing with other partners and that was way back in 2004. So, by 2009, I registered ABS Blueprint. I wanted to carve out a niche for myself and do a thing that has my name on it. I started ABS Blueprint back then.

Tell us more about your main projects, especially the ongoing ones?
Yeah, we have a number of real estate projects; we have a project in Diplomatic Zone, Katampe extension. It is an estate of about 32 flats that we just completed. We have a project at Asokoro, a private residential luxury real estate. We have another mini estate at Asokoro Extension. And right here in Life Camp, just close to us, we also have a mix-use development, a commercial and residential estate, we are about to work on. It’s going to have luxury villas at the back and at the front we will have luxury serviced and furnished short-let apartments. Yeah, so that’s a business we’re trying to get into aggressively.

Then also, there’s a project that is dear to my heart that we just signed with Nasarawa State Government, we are just about to start, we signed last month. This is a very large project – 67 hectares. It’s called the Nasarawa Technology Village. The Nasarawa Technology Village is a project highlighting the vision of the Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi A. Sule, as captured in the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) to build a Technology Hub in the State, modelled after the Silicon Valley in America.

The project is a joint venture between ABS Blueprint Consortium and Nasarawa State Government, located on a 67 Hectares land in Aso Pada Karu LGA of Nasarawa State. It will have a technology Hub as the main attraction. The project will have a cumulative total of 2,300 housing units. The Technology Hub will provide funded training for up to 2,000 IT students each Year as software Engineers. The students will be secured high paying outsourced IT jobs upon graduation. We will have innovative 1- and 2-bedroom blocks of flats on 10 hectares of the land funded by the Family Homes Funds. We will have 2-bedroom terrace bungalows and 3-bedroom detached bungalows. We will have schools, a hospital, commercials centers and religious centers. We will build the infrastructure and provide the required ancillary services for the entire project. The project will create 15,000 direct jobs and over 60,000 indirect jobs.

The project will cost an estimated sum of N22 billion, which will be funded 100% with investment funds such as the Family Homes Funds, Private Equity Funds and Venture Capital financiers. The Technology Village is going to be highly innovative. I mean, that’s a project, I think, unlike anything we’ve seen around the country. So, the graduates will be able to get software jobs from all over the world. These are high paying jobs. I think at minimum they will earn up to $2,500 every month right up to about $3,000 – $3,500 every month. And the graduates will, of course, be entitled to be able to purchase the houses among other buyers in the market.

What are the challenges you are experiencing in the industry?
In the industry, I think one of the key things is just expanding of course, when you want to scale up to this level that we just spoke about, you need to get the right amount of funding. And also, when you want to partner with, for example, the state that we just partnered with, that is one of the issues. These are just the challenges or the bottlenecks of the ease of doing business. It’s not always easy to form a partnership or to execute a partnership with the state. It might be easy to sign a document, but to actually go ahead and execute, then there’s a lot of challenges. So, these are some of the things that I think hinders or pose a lot of challenges to developers and to the industry in general.

What can you say about the commitment of the Nasarawa State government?
First, we have to commend the governor because it’s his vision. I think he has a strategy in the economic strategy document of the state. It was a plan that they already had.

So, we as developers, our business development managers found a way to key into his entire plan. So, the vision the governor has is to model the thing like Silicon Valley in the U.S., you know what Silicon Valley is or the products that come out of the Silicon Valley? These are people that have changed the world, basically and made a lot of impact, you know, when it comes to technology, I.T and all. So, he had this vision to model it like that in Nasarawa State, and he earmarked a site in Karu, which is close to Abuja. Of course, you know, you can’t over emphasis the advantages of having it in Karu, which is basically like inside Abuja. It’s a large project we’re earmarking about N22 billion but the budget will definitely go much higher after the final stage. All the pieces will come together, but so far, the project is pegged at t N22 billion.

Certainly, you know, that’s a large amount of money for a state government to be able to cough out. So, the only reasonable thing to do was to invite the private sector to come in and see how to partner, which is a very smart move and that’s the way to go when it comes to global standards. Every economy in the world is private sector-driven, right? Every large economy or successful economy is. So, he had this vision then he invited the private sector, we keyed into it.

The concept of this project has been going on for over a year now. It was a very competitive and open process. It’s not that we just came in, we had a lot of companies in the beginning. I’m from Nasarawa State, but I was just lucky to have emerged. We had companies from all over Nigeria who expressed interest, luckily, because of our determination and persistence, and I think, fortune on our side, we did all we could to put together a consortium that met all the requirements of the state. We met all the vetting processes, and we emerged.

What I can say, I think it’s really commendable to start with the governor and the state for having this vision to be able to create this environment where you have this kind of synergy between the public and private sector. We, as smart business managers, saw the way to key in and we successfully have done that and we are hoping to successfully implement it to make this project a reality.

What do you think the Federal government can do to assist?
Already, we have the presence of the federal government in terms of the Family Trust Fund in the Federal Ministry of Finance. It’s a federal government fund. They provide the funds at low interest rates. The fund is already going to finance about 10 hectares of the land, which is the multi-storey building part, I told you. And they will also, most likely, be able to finance even a large portion of the other development, which we are currently in discussions with them about.

We have meetings with them almost every other week, so they’ve indicated in principle their willingness to finance. All we’re doing now is to come up with all the documentation to be able to fulfill the requirements and access the funds. We are also discussing on other levels that I don’t want to speak much on now. But yes, we are hoping it is going to be a thing that will have a lot of presence from federal the government also.

Where do you expect ABS Blueprint to be in the next five years?
Next five years? We hope to be a company that will significantly be able to disrupt the industry or bring about disruptive change in the real estate and construction industry. We want to transform the landscape of the construction and real estate industry and make our mark when it comes to excellence and delivery. And yes, basically and we hope, of course, to contribute our quota to bridge the housing deficits in whatever way. But the bottom line, I think as I mentioned earlier, we are going to significantly be able to disrupt or to bring about a disruptive change in the construction and real estate industry.

How do you take out time to relax?
Well, for me, I’m a sports freak, I do a lot of sports, I play tennis. I do a lot of swimming and I run a lot. So, I think exercise is a good form of relaxation, I know because it relaxes your mind, clears your mind. The job can be stressful on you mentally and physically. Whenever I exercise, I just feel like I burn out all the stress and it helps me relax and calm down. I do yoga, I do all sort of exercises. So, that’s how I relax. And, of course I try to take a vacation from time to time. I do whatever I can just to relax and unwind but exercise is one of my favorite pastimes.

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