Africa Plus Partners and the 40,000 bedspace hostel initiative for Nigeria students

Correspondent EMEKA SAMUEL reports that this ambitious initiative by Africa Plus Partners is meant to provide modern accommodation for 40,000 students in tertiary institutions across the country.

It is an understatement to say that there is a huge gap in the provision of hostel accommodation to students in Nigeria’s higher institutions as most of them (for those who have at all) can hardly provide for more than 20% of their students’ population. And with the increasing number of students seeking admission into the country’s tertiary institutions, the situation has become dire even with depreciating funding for such institutions.

With the gap estimated to be in excess of 80%, this bold initiative by Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited, APPNL, therefore represents a new horizon in efforts by both the private sector and the Government to improve living and reading conditions for students in tertiary institutions across the country.

Therefore, in a bold move to stem this embarrassing shortfall in the availability of standard accommodation for students in public universities nationwide, the FG initiated several policies to devolve and share development activities with the private sector under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. One of such is the Lease structure which forms the basis of the Federal Government National Student Housing Project. This laudable initiative, which aims at providing more than 38,000 bed space accomodation for students of tertiary institutions across the country became the concept for the partnership between APPNL and TETFUND.

The first pilot phase of the project would involve the construction of 1,600 bed capacity hostels in 24 Universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education across the six geo-political zones of the country, with 800 bed capacity for males and 800 bed capacity for females. The hostels would further consist of 32 reading rooms, common rooms, cafeteria and restaurants, laundromat, 200 car parking space, grocery shops, salons with the rooms equipped with personal wardrobes, ensuite bathroom,24/7 site support, access control and 24 hour security and surveillance.

At the ground breaking of Africa Plus Partners’ 1,600 bed space hostel at the Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpadem in Mkpat Enin Local Council, the Federal Government which lauded Africa Plus for the initiative said it has earmarked N98.2bn as counterpart funding for the initiative.

Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr Wale
Edun who was represented by his Permanent Secretary Mr Udo Ekanem said the project is aimed at tackling deficit in hostel accommodation for students in order to improve reading and learning culture amongst them.

The Minister who commended Governor Umo Eno for his commitment to educational advancement in the state and lauded the partnership between Africa Plus Partners and TETFUND that has led to the initiative, also appealed for support for President Bola Tinubu in his quest to lay a strong foundation for the development of Nigeria especially in education by helping students to grow in innovation and creativity.

In a remark at the occasion, Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Arch Sonny Echono said the Fund would spend N72bn for the building of modern hostels in tertiary institutions across the country in the next two years and applauded its partners in the project, Africa Plus Partners and Family Home Funds for their commitment and drive towards providing conducive residence for undergraduates to boost innovative learning and research.

Echono commended successive Governors of the state for effective partnership with the Federal Government and promised that more of such projects would be done in the institution as part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu, further explaining that the Fund would intervene in 36 hostels in higher institutions in Nigeria this year with N24bn and would double the funding next year, providing N1bn for those involving Public Private Partnership, PPP, collaborations and N0.5bn for those without PPP.

For the AKSU project, the Executive Secretary said the Fund would contribute N1bn while the private partner, Africa Plus Partners would provide the main funding to the tune of N4bn.

Also in a remark, Governor Umo Eno who was represented by Education Commissioner Mrs Idongesit Etiebet commended the initiators of the hostel project for their efforts meant to boost learning environment for students maintaining that the measure of growth of any society is represented by investment in education said the state government has continued to pay deep attention especially to education at the foundation level to enable students develop their potentials early enough.

The state government, Eno stressed has been working in meeting the challenges of the state owned higher institutions by making investments in infrastructure and paying bursary to indigenous students in all public tertiary institutions across the country while education has continued to enjoy critical recognition in his administration’s ARISE Agenda.

According to the Governor, “today’s event is very important, in the sense that it will further boost our collective effort in providing a conducive environment for our students to study and come out as well- rounded graduates ready to face the world defined by opportunities and challenges.
I must commend all the critical partners of this project, especially the Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited, the TETFund, and all others stake holders for jointly coming together to undertake this project.
On behalf of the Government and people of Akwa Ibom State, I welcome you to our dear State. We believe that the growth of any society is directly proportional to its investment in the education of its citizenry.

“This has been our guiding principle since we assumed office barely a year ago. We are paying deep attention to education at all levels in our State. We are repositioning the primary education through the provision of model primary schools, like the World-class Model Primary School at the Christ the King School, on Wellington Bassey, Way,Uyo, which is scheduled for commissioning this week. These schools come with sports facilities,and accommodation for teachers,and the pupils will be given free school bags, uniforms and shoes in order to lessen the burden on their parents.

“We see tertiary institutions as important for the overall development of the mind and needed skills. That is why we highly commend this well thought-out initiative of the construction of the 1600 capacity Private Partnership Project Student Hostel, which will reduce significantly the accommodation challenges for students.

“I always say that the education sector can only succeed through our collective efforts, and this is a prime example of that approach. On our part, we are ensuring that other basic needs, or challenges of the institution are attended to.
We have constructed and rehabilitated internal roads within the campus for ease of movement within the university community.
We are paying attention to other needs of the students, such as the payment of bursary to Akwa Ibom students in tertiary institutions to support their financial needs. All of these attest to the fact that we value education. This thinking has found expression in our ARISE Agenda where education is the last letter “E” and continues to enjoy critical consideration in our governance priority areas.”

Vice Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, Prof Nse Essien in his speech regretted that lack of suitable accommodation has affected the living conditions of students, posed a security threat to them while candidates have continued to prefer other institutions that provide accommodation as their first choice, denying the school the opportunity to admit students to fill their carrying capacity.

According to him, “today is a dream come true to the University management, students and the entire University community. Over the years, the lack of suitable accommodation has been quite challenging for our students. It has affected their living conditions and sometimes has posed security threat to them. We have been been faced with situations where students prefer other institutions that provide accommodation as their first choice thereby denying us the opportunity to admit students to fill our carrying capacity. This challenge has also given competing institutions an edge over us irrespective of the fact that our academic standards and facilities are one of the best in Nigeria.

“This project is a PPP between TETFUND and Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited (APPNL) to construct two blocks of hostels that will house 800 students each amounting to 1600 bed space. It is an ensuite hostel with ancillary facilities that would add to the convenience of our students and the project is expected to be completed within 12 months.

“This new facility will not only address the critical need for student accommodation but will foster a stronger sense of community and belonging among our students and also create opportunities that would be beneficial to the host community. This hostel will be a home away from home, offering mordern amenities, comfortable living spaces and opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. It will also be a centre of learning and establishing friendships that will go beyond the walls of this University.

“I thank Africa Plus Partners, TETFUND, Akwa Ibom State government for their support to the University. For us, this ceremony is not just about building a hostel but it is the beginning of a vibrant community that will foster diversity and collaboration and I believe that it will be the foundation for our students to excel academically, thrive and significantly improve their well-being.”

Managing Director of Africa Plus Partners, Mr Adeniran Ajakaiye in his introductory remark said the company initiated the project when it discovered that the gap in hostel accommodation in Nigeria has been in excess of 80%. This, Ajakaiye said constituted danger to the students because such conditions could not offer them adequate protection and a good reading and learning culture and environment.

“And that is why we at Africa Plus Partners have carefully curated an accommodation scheme to cater to approximately 40,000 students in tertiary institutions across the country and this is in tandem with our desire to enable students focus on reading rather than living.” The MD said.

Managing Director of Family Homes Fund, Abdul Mukhtar while giving an overview of the project said he felt fulfilled and expressed joy that the University would be the first state owned institution to benefit from the initiative. The FG under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu and the guidance of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr Wale Edun according to him is fostering a transformative Students Housing Programme across the nation with the first phase projected to deliver 38,400 bedspaces in 24 tertiary institutions across Nigeria.

The FG’s contribution is championed by Family Homes Funds Limited, FHFL. FHFL is a housing development initiative focused on providing affordable homes for Nigerians on low to middle income. With over 15,000 houses across Nigeria, FHFL is promoted by the FG as part of its Social Intervention Programme employing innovation and strong partnership in addressing the housing challenges in Nigeria and creating over 84,000 direct and indirect jobs and stimulating the local economy in the process.

APPNL, the main financier of the initiative is a SEC licenced specialist asset management company focused on infrastructure fund management in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa. It currently manages Nigeria’s first equity-based Naira denominated infrastructure fund-the Africa Infra Plus Fund (AIPF I). APPNL obtained approval from SEC for a total programme size of N200bn for its second Fund, AIPF II. Having completed Series I of AIPF II, the total funding capacity of AAPNL currently is more than N400bn, AAPNL strives to harness resources at its disposal to unlock tremendous opportunities and leverage its structuring capabilities to maximize profitability, enhance its investors’ wealth and value of its managed funds whilst ensuring sustainable social development and preservation of the environment.

APPNL through the Triple A Consortium (which includes ARC and Afrinvest), was appointed as one of four independent asset managers for the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited (InfraCorp), a world class infrastructure development vehicle set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to catalyze and accelerate investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure sector via the creation of a N15 Trillion Infrastructure Fund to be operated and managed by the appointed independent asset managers.

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