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Sparklight repositions, begins Lagos Grace Court Estate 

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
25 May 2015   |   1:57 pm
SPDC is undergoing restructuring to become a public business and ensure its listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, towards providing affordable houses in the country. The firm has also kick-started Sparklight Grace Court Estate on the Lekki corridor in Lagos, a residential accommodation that is delivering affordable homes.
Lagos state

Lagos state

FRONTLINE real estate firm, Sparklight Property Development Company (SPDC), which initially operated as a family business over two decades has opened its doors to other investors, and plans  listing of the company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange to produce more affordable homes for Nigerians.
The new Executive Director, Mr. Segun Adedayo Olabode who disclosed that the current vision of the new investors on the board is to create “a niche for ourselves in the area of affordable housing” and get the company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange within the next two years.
His words: “A private placement was recently done by the company and this led to the company having new shareholders. We have also constituted a new board of directors and management team from diverse backgrounds, renowned people and experts with sound character. We also have very strong corporate governance in place. 
“These are some of the steps that have been taken in ensuring that Sparklight Property is taken into the public domain whereby the company will metamorphose to a public business. Also, on the issue of our financial reporting, we have complied with the Financial Reporting Council regulation; we now have our financials in line with the guidelines.”
On providing affordable housing, Olabode said their target is the working-class.  “Sparklight believes that you are entitled to own a home. Even if a person is a low-income earner, he can still key into any of our schemes. We have been doing this over the years and have built quite a number of estates. There is a wide deficit in housing provision, which the Federal, State and Local Government cannot meet. There is therefore a need for government to partner with private investors to provide affordable housing.”
According to him, subscribes to the affordable housing scheme have the option of obtaining mortgage loan through their partnership with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) on a six per cent interest rate and at tenure of over 20 to 30 years depending on the age of the applicant.  “With this, you can have a house and pay a token on monthly basis as if you are paying rent while the house belongs to you. We are not only giving you a product, we are also creating for you the ability to pay for your house through the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme.” 
Aside from the provision of low rate mortgages, Sparklight Property is also affiliated with other real estate related companies in the Sparklight Group. He said, “The synergy has given us advantage over other real estate firms to deliver our houses with cost reduction strategy thereby making our houses affordable to our customers. That is what makes us different.”
The company is rounding up on phase II of the Gateway Sparklight Estate, Magboro in Ogun state, offering more than 800 family dwellings. Olabode said: “We recently commissioned Rockview Estate in Abeokuta, we have also built Kings Court Phases one to four in Abuja and we have done houses in different areas in Lagos state. We just started a development in the Lekki axis known as Sparklight Grace Court Estate and in line with our vision of providing affordable housing.”
He listed three basic challenges a private developer faces in providing affordable housing as difficulty in acquiring land; the Land Use Act does not encourage developers, which is why our company partners with the government.  However, it is still not easy to get government land. So, land acquisition is a big challenge. Gateway Sparklight Estate is a Public-Private Partnership with the Ogun State government and, also the Rockview estate with the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
“The second challenge is funding. For a developer to sell houses to the public at affordable prices and breakeven, such a developer will need to source for cheep funds which is very hard to come by. If you go to the commercial banks today to get project funds for projects that are long term, most banks can only give you within 24 months and of course the interest rate can wipe out any business within a short term. So, funding projects is a big challenge because of high interest rates,” he added.
The third challenge is the cost of construction which is mainly cost of materials and labour. On the cost of materials, he expressed the need for the government to invest in research and development to boost locally made materials thereby bringing down the cost of building considerably rather than relying on importation, which has affected our economy badly.
Olabode stressed that if the issue of labour is properly addressed, real estate development and construction industry can be used to solve the problem of unemployment. “We have a lot of unemployment in the nation, but we lack skilled manpower which is why some construction companies go to neighbouring countries to source for manpower. But here in Sparklight, what we do is train our artisans at the Adeyinka Technical Institute, Lapeleke in Ogun state on  a tuition free basis.”