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Nigeria needs right infrastructure to encourage industries, says Akintayo

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Akintayo

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gtext Global, Stephen Akintayo, has said the easiest way Nigeria could ensure political stability and prioritise job creation is for government to build the right infrastructures formulate the right policies.

Speaking at the recent Global Property Brokers Conference held in Lagos, Akintayo noted that the country should do all in its power to tackle unemployment, especially with the rise in insecurity.

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He stated: “insecurity is one of the major challenges in Nigeria. We cannot just tackle insecurity with bullets and by bombarding people. I was in Maiduguri in 2019 and I visited one of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. There were 35,000 people in a place meant to take 3,500 persons.

“They didn’t have jobs, no enough medicine at the health centre. So, tell me, why will they decline if Boko Haram promises any of them more money or tell them they will have access to 1000 virgins?

“If we don’t want insecurity to continue, we have to find a way to create jobs. Last year, Gtext created a platform to employ 100,000 people in the real estate sector and we are committing 15 per cent of our income to that. We launched the GCP programme and this is a follow-up to that.”
 
On why Gtext Homes is investing in training and some of the works the firm is currently undertaking, the CEO said Gtext homes has been doing a lot in the real estate industry, pointing out that this year, “we are building one thousand housing units and we have started already, a lot of contractors are already mobilized, and we are getting more on board, and by the end of the year, we would be having more than 20 branches in the country.”

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Akintayo stressed that people have been asking why the firm is expanding despite the rising insecurity in the country, explaining: “The concept of entrepreneurship is solving problems.

“That is why we are investing a lot in conferences and training because we just need to start changing the mindset of Nigerians. There are applications that some brilliant young Nigerians can come up with that will solve the problem of insecurity, build an app that will give satellite imagery where kidnappers are keeping people, we just need to tap into that youthful, young energy.”
 
On Gtext smart city concept, Akintayo said the United Kingdom holds that it will reduce its CO2 emission by 78 per cent by 2035, adding, “So, there are countries that have set 15-20 years deadline. Everything is becoming smart, green, but Africa is not even having that conversation yet.

“I want to change the narrative, so we started the concept of green smart homes wherein our estate and in the houses, we have built. With your phone, you can handle everything in the house. You can see or monitor what is going on in the house from your wristwatch; you can even talk to those at home. 

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“So we are not connecting any of our estates to the national grid, everything is renewable, we are doing a hybrid of solar and recycling on the waste we are producing in the environment, using hybrid biogas and solar.”
 
He also spoke on economic diversification noting that the real estate industry is viable enough to shift Nigeria economy away from oil reliance. “To shift the country’s focus from oil,” he noted, “is solely in the hands of the government. The Dubai government made an intentional decision to develop its real estate industry.

“The country was deliberate to diversify its economy from oil by going into real estate and tourism among others. To do this, they started building the right infrastructures to enable other industries to thrive.

“The Nigerian government can also decide to diversify the economy through the real estate sector. So all we just need is a little government support to make things easier. Look at what is happening in Ogun and Oyo States, investment is moving to those places because it is easy to get your Certificate of Occupancy  (C of O). So, those are little things government can do to create the much-needed jobs for the economy. Real estate is the biggest employer of labour.” 

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On what inspired his entrepreneurship journey, the 2018 West African Young Personality of the year awardee remarked: “I started business on campus, my mother was a civil servant and my father’s business had crumbled before I was born. My mother was left alone to raise five children. Each time I was going to school, my mother will knock on the doors of neighbour for help. This is the reason we invest a lot in kids’ tuition fees and so far, we have paid over five thousand tuitions for them. I was lucky I had a cousin who started a business immediately after I completed my secondary school education that was how my entrepreneurship journey started.  
 
“I also started small, I trekked from Ikeja along to Sango because I couldn’t afford N200 then to go back to Sango. I often slept in my office. I used to paste postal, do photocopy and buy bulk SMS at 70 kobo per SMS. So, it wasn’t easy but we can do it.”

Did he ever incur a huge loss while growing? Akintayo said: “The biggest single loss was N120 million in the real estate sector but that was a single loss that made me determine I will build billions naira worth of business. We once purchased land and the day we were to take possession of the land, the whole family came out and asked us who sold the land to us, they said they don’t know him, and that was how we lost the money.”

Gtexthomes, he said, is exploring new ways to inspire the Nigerian youths. “We have started to mentor intentionally; media men, celebrities, actors, and actresses. So what is missing is a role model. It’s not that the Nigerian youth can’t be patient; they need to be inspired and supported to tap opportunities across industries,” he explained. 

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