‘Government should set aside fund for real estate infrastructure’
FESTUS ADEBAYO is the Managing Director, FESADEB Communications Limited and convener of the Abuja Housing Show (AHS). He says government should use the Nigerian Sovereign Authority to fund real estate infrastructure, and enact regulations that would guide the practice of real estate in country. He spoke with VICTOR GBONEGUN on various issues in the industry including the international housing show.
As a convener of Abuja Housing Show, what are you doing different at this year’s edition?
Over the years we have observed that various stakeholders in the housing sector are working in silos so in other to help create the spirit of collaboration, we are having the first Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) forum at the show. Part of the critical issue to be addressed by the CEOs is “ Collaboration for Optimal Results”.
This year’s show is an avenue to encourage the youths to start thinking of owning a property at an early age. If they are not too young to run for elective position they should not be too young to own a home. The first women in housing initiative convention would be taking place during the show. This is to showcase and encourage the role of women as nation builders in the housing industry.
We are providing opportunities for foreign investors interested in investing in the Nigeria real estate. We would also be having major developers from Dubai and this year the Ghanaian Deputy Minister for Housing, Freda Prempeh with six members of the Ghanaian parliament will be in attendance. The impact of the show has been felt all over the country, among Home Buyers and all major stakeholders like the mortgage brokers, building contractors, Local building materials suppliers and others.
Experts in housing are lamenting lack of conducive environment for their operations, what are the things that government should do as a way forward?
Nigerian Government needs to start thinking of tackling poverty through housing because housing has a multiplier effect on any economy. Housing if properly implemented can increase Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Take a simple case of a building construction site where apart from the building materials suppliers, artisans and others, people like the local food vendor, the “keke Napep guys” and others making money on daily basis too.Nigeria as a nation can achieve practical solutions to affordable housing if the government can address some of the major issues militating against our collective goal as a nation.
The issue of the Land Use Act needs to be properly addressed not just continued lip service. Rwanda was able to achieve a feat of resolving their Land Use Act issues through a strong political will, today Rwanda is rated the second country in the world when it comes to land transparency. Land titling should be made affordable like is the practice in the developed nations of the world. Nigerians paying 15 per cent of cost of land is very disheartening.
The government should through the Nigerian Sovereign Authority set aside special funds, specifically for real estate infrastructural development. This fund should be administered to provide access roads and other utilities for various housing estates all over the country.
The time has come for us as a nation to seriously look inwards by working on building houses with 100 per cent local content. The Abuja housing show is currently collaborating with Nigerian Building Road Research Institute (NBRRI) and Nigerian Housing Advocacy group to produce a ‘made in Nigeria homes’. To achieve this, a day as been set aside for further discussions and break out season at this year’s show.
You have themed this year’s exhibition, ‘Tackling Poverty through Investment in Housing. Why the topic, and how can Nigeria really achieve practical solutions in affordable housing for every citizen?
Government needs to provide conducive environment by enacting regulations that would guide the practice of real estate in Nigeria, a situation where you have fake builders, agents and mortgage brokers duping people should be of concern to the Government. A situation where you are have housing bills that have been before the house for a period of over five years does not portray us as a serious nation interested in the welfare of the citizens.
The hope of home ownership for civil servant is fast becoming unrealistic, what can authorities do to promote home accessibility for the low-income earners?
The current minimum wage of N18, 000 wouldn’t be able to sustain a viable housing sector thus we welcome the recent announcement that the basic salaries are been reviewed and hopefully by September 2018, this would have been put in place. The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is the only mortgage bank in Nigeria today that offers single digit interest rate thus recapitalising the bank is one of the critical solutions to providing affordable housing to the over 17Millions Nigerians in need of a roof over their heads.
How could the federal government attract more investment in the real estate industry?
One sure way is by having a strong political will to make housing in Nigeria a cardinal programme of the administration just like Agriculture. Government should also pass laws to re-organise the real estate sector, which should be in line with international best practices. All real estate practitioners should be licensed by having licensed practitioners. Government should create an enabling environment to boost international investors’ confidence in the sector. The government should also address Land use act issues, re-capitalize FMBN, increase minimum wage and provide funds for more research into local content building material production.
What are your expectations at the end of the expo?
We expect at the end of the show to among other things generate international investors interest in Nigeria’s real estate industry; create collaborative projects and partnership among stakeholders; come up with a model for made in Nigeria home; provide more business for all stakeholders and provide opportunities for Nigerians interested in owning a home.