Despite the current economic difficulties occasioned by a significant drop in oil revenue, foreign investment inflows into the country recorded fresh impetus on Tuesday when Cantor Fitzgerald, a highly regarded investment company based in the United States of America, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) for $1 billion (about N200 billion) in mortgages in a bid to broaden the Nigerian housing market.
Cantor Fitzgerald, a global investment firm with strong expertise in asset-backed mortgage securities, specialises in mortgage-backed securities.
It has already unfolded its plans to broaden the housing market and expand the range of mortgage offerings to Nigerians.
A representative of the firm and Managing Director of the firm’s Debt Capital Markets division, Mr. Jack Heffernan, signed a MOU with the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NMRC, Prof. Charles Inyangette, at a ceremony presided over by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Abuja yesterday.
With the consummation of the MoU, the firm, has also made arrangements to build 10,000 houses in Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu and Abuja within the next one year.
In her remarks at the event, Okonjo-Iweala said the entry of such an important player into Nigeria’s mortgage sector is yet another signal that the Jonathan administration’s vision of making affordable housing available to Nigerians is earning the confidence of serious international investors.
She said the prospects of achieving the core vision of the NMRC, which is to get young Nigerians convenient access to the means of owning their own homes is achieved.
“Cantor Fitzgerald’s presence in Nigeria shows that our mortgage strategy is attracting the right kind of attention from the right kind of people around the world and this will deepen and diversify and ultimately reduce the cost of mortgage and housing in Nigeria. This shows that President Jonathan’s vision of making housing available to Nigerians is working,” the minister said.
Giving an update on applications for the new mortgages under the NMRC, which were opened last year, the minister said the 66,000 applicants were getting closer to realising their dreams, adding that 9,000 have already received offers while 33 received money for the mortgages.
She disclosed that a number of other initiatives were being worked out with the Pension Commission (PENCOM) to enable workers borrow from their retirement savings account to own houses.
The minister stated that efforts were also in the offing to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other agencies to expand the housing market.
Hefernan, in his remarks, described the NMRC as “exactly the right business model to bring liquidity to Nigeria’s housing sector”. He disclosed that the land for the housing units in the four pilot states has been acquired.
In his brief comments, the NMRC CEO, Inyangette said the MoU signing event market yet another significant step by the federal government to change the face of the housing sector.
He disclosed that the NMRC has fully commenced operations, having received its licence from the CBN last month.
He said Cantor Fitzgerald with over 7,000 institution investors across the world is committed to investing in Nigeria’s housing sector.