Stakeholders seek incentives for private developers
To address Nigeria’s 23 million deficits in housing units, stakeholders in the built environment have advocated for a policy driven incentives for private developers in order to attain affordable housing.
The policy, to be driven by the government include rebate for approval for mass or social housing.
According to them, the present government efforts at providing about 100,000 houses per annum is leaving a deficit of 700,000 housing units, which may not be attained without active private sector participation.
Speaking differently at a forum to review the proposed housing design and mortgage structure for low income groups in Lagos state, stakeholders were of the view that even with the significant efforts at addressing the housing deficits, many of the low –income groups, which constitute a bulk of the national population are often left behind because of lack of efficient mortgage system in the country.
According to them, affordable housing is unrealistic if left to the government alone.
While calling for flexibility in the system especially in certain areas, they urged government to make lands available for social housing.
The Project Director, Arctic Infrastructure, Lookman Oshodi, who coordinated the programme in collaboration with Heinrich Boll Stiftung Nigeria, expressed worries over the high quantum of informal settlement slum within a city order.
According to him, new housing programmes and urban renewals should not only consider the low income group because of their critical mass but should take their interests into consideration or made a priority.
He also lamented that near absence mortgage couple with the development of housing types without taking care of the low income has made accessibility to housing very difficult.
Oshodi therefore called for a review of the housing types in new housing programmes, which will include the enthronement of strong virile mortgage system as well as easier land acquisition.
Buttressing the difficulty in land acquisition, Oshodi using the Eco Village project in Port Harcourt, developed by Mrs. Chinwe Ohazurike, an architect as a reference point, said the village was taken far from the city because of the land acquisition struggle, which resulted to taking residents away from their homes and work places.
He also identified funding as a problem because there is no clear cut financing mechanism for the interest of low-income group.
While charting the way out of recession through affordable housing, Director of sustainability West Africa Lead, Ernst & Young and member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) Sustainability Policy Commission, Mr. Opeyemi Joseph Owolabi regretted that investment in government housing is speculative.
He however called for mass approach to meet the housing demands.
According to him, there is need for social inclusion to capture the informal sector that provide 85 percent of the labour force.
He also stressed the need for government incentives for developers by lowering the market entry and ease of doing business, improving time frames for exports and imports and zero tariffs for renewable energy.
Owolabi, who works in Job Creation Unit in the office of the Vice President also aligned with the policies of government in agriculture, power, works and housing, trade and petroleum, stressing that government is creating an agricultural hub or cities, with a whole value chain in order to encourage investment in agriculture.
According to him, it is often difficult for a prototype housing programmes in driving affordable housing project in this part of the world.
For the head of affordable Housing unit of Lafarge Nigeria, Mr. Aurelien Boyer, the expansion of microfinance housing is a pragmatic solution to the explosion in rural exodus.
He stressed that Lafarge’s easy home launched three years ago in collaboration with LAPO Micro Finance Bank has produced 25,000 beneficiaries across the south west zone.