‘Nigeria needs composite actions to attain sustainable, affordable housing’
Akinola Olawore is a Chartered Surveyor and Valuer of repute with over 30 years experience in all aspects of Estate Surveying and valuation. He was recently inaugurated as the 15th president of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), the foremost bilateral Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria. In this interview with BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA, the adjunct Professor of Real Estate at the Homburg Academy, Charlotte Town, Canada spoke on challenges of the new office, the real estate sector as well as chart ways to attain sustainable affordable housing in Nigeria.
You were recently inaugurated as the 15th president of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), what is the implication for the real estate sector and your valuation profession?
Thank you. I am a Real Estate practitioner and Real Estate has a huge stake in the Commerce space. In the Chamber we have as part of our operating sectors Construction and Real Estate sector. As President, my duty is to create an enabling platform for members to improve their networking and business opportunities across all sectors.
Investors and private developers have accused authorities of multiple taxation. What are the issues? Are you impressed with the forms of taxation on real estate sector? What can be done?
The main issue regarding taxation is more about being sure of the taxes to pay and to which authority. What you have happening is that Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Local Governments and State authorities look into their laws (old and new) under their regulatory powers and then levy businesses to generate revenue to carry out the function. These levies usually have no verifiable basis, demanded anytime in the year without prior budgeting by the businesses. All these increase the cost of doing business and the attendant uncertainties. Businesses require certainties for budgeting and any new levy should not be of immediate effect, there must be breaking – in and enlightenment period to allow businesses plan for such taxes.
A lot of professionals in the construction and real estate sector are shying away from political positions and occupying high-level position. What motivated you to seek NBCC Presidency? What will the sector gain in Nigeria during your tenure?
This is not a political position but peer-recognition honour to serve. No campaigns but recognition and invitation to serve.
What do you consider as the major challenges to the real estate sector in Nigeria? In what areas will you want to see improvement?
I think there’s a discordant tune about the challenges of the sector. There are issues around access to land especially security of title while you have finance as another. Human resource especially in construction is yet another problem, but the problems assume different dimensions depending on the market segment. All players and stakeholders need to come together to identify solutions to the problems, whether mortgage structure (both primary and secondary), funding developers, funding the wholesale and retail markets, building construction technology and training of artisans and technicians. Whole gamut of action is required.
The plan to promote made-in-Nigeria products, particularly non-oil goods as well as to harness the potential of Nigerians living in U.K. could drive the trade volume between the two countries to £20 billion by 2020. What are your plans to attract investment in housing sector?
Investment follows where there are opportunities, which can be adequately weighed against the risks. We continue to witness investment in the sector especially commercial space, but as the challenges of the market gets resolved you will see more investment activity in the sector. There is a huge housing market but largely ineffective because there’s little mortgage support and as the issue surrounding source and cost of finance gets resolved, the market will be unleashed.
The global Doing Business Index has ranked Nigeria 173 in the world due to the permits procedures and timing of ease of doing business. Do you agree with this report? How can the government improve on its construction index?
Nigeria is actually 145 on the ranking up from 169which was through a focused and determined effort of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, (PEBEC) team. We still have work to do generally and the faster the turnaround of permits, the more wealth can be generated. Specifically, we will do a lot better when we reduce human interface in government business but it is a matter of change of mindset and continuous education. We were happy with this feat and congratulated the team.
Nigeria is yet to provide sustainable and affordable housing. What should be done to ensure affordable housing?
We need to deal with the cost of delivery of housing to the end user. This will start from the design, size of accommodation, land value and its optimization, mass housing technology, mortgage finance cost, and the models of financing among others.
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