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Embracing New Technologies To Reduce Housing Deficit

Shelter plays a critical role in human existence, without which peaceful co-existence would be dreadful. Irrespective of its intrinsic value, Nigeria is challenged with population growth, a situation that had increased squatter and slum settlements across major cities in the country.

With an annual population growth rate of 3.5 percent, Nigeria needs additional one million housing units annually to reduce the deficit by 2033.

The deficit, pegged at between 17 to 20 million housing units, would cost the federal government more than N6 trillion to bridge the gap.

Aside that, the provision of liveable, safe and secured shelter is a fundamental human right as enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In addition, Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria also recognises the right of every citizen in Nigeria to acquire property especially land and its resources.

This led to the commencement of the pilot phase of National Housing Programme (NHP) in 34 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the exemption of Lagos and Rivers states whose governors failed to donate land for the project.

Regrettably, the housing and construction sector is marred with mounting challenges such as building collapse, injuries and death on construction sites, non-payment of contractors and consultants fees, environment degradation, housing deficit and high cost of construction, that had resulted to stunted growth in the Industry.

Added to the challenges are dearth of skilled manpower, difficulties in land acquisition, substandard building materials, delay in governor’s consent who are the custodians of lands, absence of infrastructure, absence of long term finance, bogus interest rate and among other impediments.

Also, the flagrant neglect of town planning laws in Nigeria led to urbanisation with its attendant consequences such as insecure land tenure, poor and inadequate infrastructure, pollution, health challenges, poverty and lack of basic urban services.

Though the private sector is gradually building houses across the states, most of the existing structures are hardly affordable for low-income earners.

To this enad, stakeholders have advocated the need for the federal government and private sector to embrace new technologies like foam work and brickless building system in order to quicken the construction processes that would translate to more affordable housing for Nigerians.

The group president of BSTAN group, Engr Becky Damilola Oke stated that embracing new technologies would reduce the housing deficit, adding that there should be access to land, finance and building materials in order to attain effective housing delivery.

She harped on the need for government to initiate the right policies to enable Nigerians access housing loans, lamenting that investors are scared of investing in Nigeria given the rigid policies that would not protect their investment.

Lending his voice, the managing director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Arc Ahmed Dangiwa has emphasised that addressing the nation’s over 20 million housing deficit required efficient promotion and utilisation of local building materials and technology.

This he believed would not only reduce the cost of houses but make Nigeria self-dependent in the comity of nations.

He harped on the need to confront the challenges frontally and generate implementable ideas to resolve them, saying that Nigeria Institute of Architecture (NIA) has a key role to play in addressing the challenges.

The MD hinted that aside the huge housing deficit and lack of adequate finance, that professionalism is under serious threat in the sector.

Dangiwa said that there was no stakeholder in the financial market that offered mortgage rates lower than the FMBN, saying that the bank had continued to reduce the obstacles to ensure that more Nigerians have access to mortgages.

He asserted that FMBN has enhanced mortgage affordability level for Nigerians by eliminating equity payment for mortgage loans of five million and below.

The MD disclosed that the bank reduced 10 percent interest rate for loans above N5 million to N15 million from the initial 20 to 30 per cent.

He hinted that the bank also developed the rent-to-own mortgage product that required no equity payment aside from the monthly repayment, pledging to embark on more initiatives if the bank attained its vision for recapitalisation.

Dangiwa begged federal government to recapitalise the bank to the tune of N500 billion as recommended by the National Council on Housing and Urban Development in 2017 and 2018.

He lauded federal government for the promotion of local content in building materials and construction technology, even as he begged workers in the organised private sector and self-employed individuals who are yet to join the scheme to urgently register and commence contributions of 2.5 percent of their monthly income.

Dangiwa stated that plans are underway to kick-start its rent-to-own pilot housing scheme with 3000 houses at the existing estates funded by FMBN nationwide and non-funded estates.

In her contribution, the deputy minister of Works and Housing, Ghana, Hon Freda Prempeh tasked Nigerian government on the need to explore the use of new technology in the building industries in order to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit.

Prempeh suggested that government and other stakeholders should be more innovative and creative in reducing the cost of houses adding that housing is a capital-intensive venture.

She said that Ghanaian government is battling to address its 1.7m housing deficit but called on Nigerian government to create an enabling environment to attract more private sector participation in the built environment.

Prempeh described high cost of building as the main constraint of housing in the region, adding that there are many luxury homes on prime areas in Ghana that are yearning for buyers.

The federal government has revealed its intention to adopt Foam Work technology for quicker methods of building in a bid to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit in the country.

The minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola had disclosed this in Abuja while declaring open a two-day Affordable Housing Summit organised in collaboration with German Development Cooperation (GIZ) with the theme, “Developing a Blueprint for Affordable Housing Delivery in Nigeria”.

He noted that the technology is necessary given that the current methods of building are slow saying that there is a need to embrace the new technology to produce housing in large numbers.

According to him, “The foam work allows us to build blocks of flats of about 4 floors in 8 weeks and bungalows in about 2 to 4 weeks but we need to create a design.”

He revealed that one set of foam work can be adaptable to three different designs such as bungalow, blocks of flats and among others, saying that foam work could only be feasible after standardisation of designs.

Credit: Leadership

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