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Housing sector crucial to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, says expert

A Housing and Construction expert, Rev. Ugochukwu Chime, says the development of the housing sector is important for stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in any economy.

Chime, President of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), made this known on Tuesday in Abuja at the 48th Builders’ Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB).

According to him, the sector has huge potential to positively transform our socio-economic landscape and create jobs.

“Its multidimensional nature, seen and unseen linkages that determine the outcome of any real estate investment are yet to be understood by all stakeholders.”

The association president said that the housing and construction sector in Nigeria accounted for only three per cent of the country’s rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He also expressed regret that the country has an extremely low ratio of credit to GDP, adding that of the little credit provided by banks, only a fraction of it was for mortgages.

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While delivering his keynote address with the theme: “The Housing Sector in National Economic Development’’ Chime noted that despite the size of the nation’s economy, mortgage debt to GDP was only 0.5 per cent.

“With approximately 17 million housing deficit in the economy, focus on addressing this shortfall will catalyze the productive sectors. This is imperative as the market is available, only effective demand needs to be enhanced.

“Globally, there is a strong consensus that the development of the housing sector is important for stimulating economic growth and job creation in any economy.”

He further noted that various efforts over the decades to stem the rising deficit have met with very limited success while several reasons have been adduced for this.

These, he listed, as challenges in finance of land administration problems, dearth of needed manpower, and absence of regulatory environment among others.

According to him, many stakeholders have misunderstood their roles, thus ensuring overlaps and gaps in the value chain.

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He explained that over the years paradigm shift in housing delivery approach from individual efforts and the use of mortgage loans from financiers to meet shelter needs is the major culprit.

“This change in home ownership approach is yet to be appreciated and the structure for effective management of the transaction dynamics put in place in Nigeria.

“The challenge becomes more glaring when we look at the Nigerian Constitution and realize that while the fiscal policy is on the exclusive list, the land administration laws, policies and process are on the residual list.

“This has allowed politics, political cycles and Federal, State Governments challenges to be a clog in the wheel of our quest to use housing as a tool for accelerated socio-economic transformation and growth.

“Our clients which used to be government MDA’s have gradually become private sector operators with a different set of values, expectations and focus. We need to realize this fast and adapt accordingly,’’ he added.

He emphasised on the role of real estate as engine of growth desperately needed as a nation with over 50 per cent youth unemployment according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The surveyor noted that access to affordable accommodation was the birth right of every Nigerian which was enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, section 16(1)(d) of 1999 under the Fundamental Objectives of State Policy.

He called for effective collaborative efforts amongst stakeholders to ensure that risks and rewards could be redistributed with the aim of enhancing organizational efficiency.

Dr Omede Idris, the President of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) also called for enabling environment for building industry to thrive and contribute to economic growth in the country.

According to him, the sector is crucial for economic development and needs a good synergy to package and develop on its mandate.

“Production of local building materials should also be fostered to reduce foreign patronage,’’ Omede noted.

HousingNews reports that the conference which also marks NIOB 50th anniversary featured presentation of awards and service medals to its past presidents.

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