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Groups hail CBN’s proposed intervention for housing, mortgage industry over COVID-19

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
20 April 2020   |   4:16 am
The umbrella body for real estate developers - Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and a housing sector advocacy group – Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) have commended...

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The umbrella body for real estate developers – Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and a housing sector advocacy group – Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) have commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for including the housing sector in its planned intervention.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele in a letter titled, “Turning the COVID-19 tragedy into a new opportunity for Nigeria,” promise to provide funds to enable mass production of affordable housing for millions of Nigerians in dire need of them.

The governor also pledged to assist the mortgage finance sub-sector and build capacity of land administration agencies to process and issue land titles promptly, implement investment friendly foreclosure laws and reduce the cost of land documentation.

The Chairman, REDAN Board of Trustees, Prince Oluseyi Lufadeju said: “This is indeed a welcome development and opportunity. For quite some time real estate developers and others have been calling on the CBN to have an intervention agenda in the housing as being done for lesser relevant sectors.

“We appreciate the gesture of the apex bank. In implementing the policy, we need action on certain pending issues in order to ensure success. They include amendment of the Land Use Act to make access to land for development much easier, improvement of long term financing, accelerated provision of infrastructural facilities, increased use of local and cheaper building materials, capacity building for professionals and artisans and a few regulatory actions.”

Lufadeju said, one of the major problems encountered by estate developers is availability of appropriate funding mechanism to make affordable housing possible. “The CBN and concerned stakeholders should immediately set up a joint commission to work out the implementation of this laudable plan.

“I am particularly concerned and interested in upgrading the quality and services of various slums and sub-standard settlements. If you observe, you will see that all our major cities are surrounded by slums with very high poverty and disease levels. We should once and for all start improving these settlements, create jobs and empower the citizens in these areas.”

HDAN in a statement by the group’s president, Festus Adebayo, the decision by CBN to provide funding for housing sector development is an answer to a call that has been on for a while.

Adebayo, said: ‘’We cannot hold back our commendation for the CBN governor for deeming it right to listen to the relentless cries of housing stakeholders in HDAN, whose major preoccupation is to see that the public and private sectors collaborate for the benefit of millions of Nigerians who are either homeless or living in sub-human conditions, especially in rural and sub-urban areas.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola

Though, Adebayo believes that there is so much more to be done, and it is not yet time for celebration, but this is a step in the right direction. According to him, housing sector stakeholders should celebrate cautiously regarding this news as only time will tell if the fortunes of homeless Nigerians are truly going to be turned.

An immediate term policy intervention will see the CBN ensuring financial system stability by granting regulatory forbearance to banks to restructure terms of facilities in affected sectors. Adebayo said that this can certainly be beneficial at the moment for real estate development with regards to engagement with lenders and facilitators.

According to Emefiele’s letter, the housing sector falls in the medium term policy priority by the CBN. As has always been advocated by HDAN, the CBN has now chosen the housing sector as one of the four sectors to intervene in immediately after covid-19, in order to enable faster recovery of the economy in a way that it can support mass employment and wealth creation. The other three sectors are light manufacturing, renewable energy and cutting edge research. Incidentally, these are

The CBN, according to Emefiele will also provide an initial intervention of N500 billion for manufacturing firms to among other things increase the efficient production of products like cement, iron rods, doors and others. The bank wishes to also collaborate with the private sector in its ongoing investment in cement production using enhanced technology and automated manufacturing models.

This particular announcement is a source of excitement for Adebayo whose advocacy group are known for championing the adoption of innovation in an ever changing housing landscape.

‘’The challenge we face in Nigeria as far as housing is concerned is not something that can be solved with the old bricks and mortar methods. We need quick and efficient technology that will build more houses and in record time. A repacked model. Some companies have already shown the capability to deliver in this area. All CBN needs to do is to identify them and work with them,’’ he said.

Adebayo also mentioned that his group is ready to use all of their advocacy platforms — television and radio programs and their other credible platforms which has brought them closer to many states  to mobilize state governments.