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Experts say public-private partnership projects will tackle housing shortage

Following the recent ground breaking of Alaro City, a new mixed-use satellite city in Lagos, real estate experts have called for more public-private partnership to tackle the country’s housing deficit and also decongest major cities such as Lagos.

They noted that the new city would serve as a model modern city development and as a catalyst for increased private sector investment in the housing sector.

The Director, Real Estate Advisory, Northcourt, Mr Ayo Ibaru, stated that the city was a welcome development from so many angles, such as helping to attract foreign investment.

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He said it would decongest Lagos and also complement developments around the fast growing Lekki/Epe axis.

“It is a demonstration of confidence in the country as an investment destination and a bold show of confidence in the future of Lagos State. Apart from decongesting Lagos, it will complement the development around the Lekki Free Trade Zone, and on completion, it will also generate a number of jobs, about 200, 000 or more, and expand the city,” he said.

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Ibaru, however stated that to achieve its aim, the project should be made affordable.

Conceived as a 2,000 hectare development, Alaro City is a partnership between the Lagos State Government and Rendeavour, a private new city developer currently developing seven satellite cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

The partnership between the developer and Lagos is being championed by a subsidiary known as North West Quadrant Development Company, which will develop, operate, administer and manage the city.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, had at the groundbreaking of the city, said it was conceived to provide housing schemes to a broad spectrum of income earners, industrial workspaces, warehouses, hospitality and commercial office facilities among others.

Ambode said the government provided the land while the private partner would provide funding.

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He said satellite cities had been established by land use experts as the best way to accommodate population growth while maintaining urban plans and preserving green spaces, adding that over the last 10 years, more satellite cities had emerged as a means to tackle the problems created by congestion, pollution, and high housing costs in large metro cities such as Lagos.

According to real estate experts, for a country like Nigeria, with extreme housing shortage, satellite cities are critical in taking some weight off bloated urban centres, especially when built as market-led mixed-use developments.

They stated that such cities, especially in developing countries like Nigeria, increase Foreign Direct Investment, introduce world-class infrastructure, increase employment and encourage manufacturing.

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Global Property and Facilities International Limited, Dr MKO Balogun, said the new city was a call for more private investors to get involved in developing infrastructure.

“If it were strictly residential, it wouldn’t make any sense but since it is a city that will enable people to live and work and is self-sustaining, it is a welcome development. It will help decongest Lagos,” he said.

He added that there was a need for the government and other relevant stakeholders to encourage the development of more self-sustaining cities.

The President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria, Mr Idris Salako, said apart from helping to reduce the state’s housing deficit and that of the country in general, Alaro City would complement the planned activities in the Lekki Free Trade Zone.

The President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria, Mr Idris Salako, said apart from helping to reduce the state’s housing deficit and that of the country in general, Alaro City would complement the planned activities in the Lekki Free Trade Zone.

“For the government to have released 2, 000 hectares of land for the development, it means the right planning is in place to help reduce housing deficit,” he said.

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According to the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rendeavour, Stephen Jennings, Alaro City will adopt the same structure as the other satellite cities currently being developed by the company.

He stated that Alaro City was designed as an integrated live-work-play urban environment and that prospective residents, which cover a mixed-income group, would benefit from planned residential areas, together with carefully managed green spaces.

“Our cities are designed on a market-led basis providing everything one would need within a five to 10-minute walking radius.  Corporate organisations and entrepreneurs will benefit from well-defined business district spaces with other areas designated as light industrial, warehousing and logistics or business parks,” he stated.

He said the city would be free of the infrastructure deficit prevalent in Lagos, adding that it would be a transformational world-class mixed-use city.”

He explained that the firm’s development model involved land acquisition; re-zoning of the land; creation of a master plan; infrastructure development; and the establishment and management of the living city.

Jennings said the city was conceived in early 2014 when the Lagos State Government approached Rendeavour to explore a partnership towards building a satellite city similar to the developer’s ongoing projects, adding that a joint venture was formed and talks commenced.

He said, “This took several years and various administrations. In the meantime, they saw the ongoing progress with our other projects; so we went from being an idea to something very tangible in their minds. Last year, we finalised our legal structure and secured our Certificate of Occupancy.

“Some businesses have already invested in Alaro City; the first business, a major international new entrant into Nigeria who has constructed a facility within 54,000 square metres, will be operational within the next month. A second facility is already under construction. The first major road construction will commence shortly, and other businesses, homes and our first office complex are to follow later this year.”

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He stated that foreign investors, attracted by the economic benefits of the Lekki Free Zone, would see the sort of urban development being facilitated by Rendeavour as the panacea to challenges such as securing land titles, infrastructure and taxes.

He explained that Rendeavour’s similar projects in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as backing by American, British, Norwegian and New Zealand investors, were factors that encouraged investors.

Rendeavour’s Head of West Africa, Yomi Ademola, said a typical project for the company involved mixed-use development on around 1,000 hectares of land located in close proximity to an existing city centre, and designed to provide housing for around 100,000 residents and facilities for 30,000 daily visitors.

“Each development has the potential to create approximately 100,000 permanent and 220,000 temporary jobs during its 20-year project lifetime. We work in partnership with world-class experts, local developers and governments at various levels to create these mixed-income satellite cities. Alaro City is planned as 2,000 hectares, to put this into some perspective, the size of Victoria Island alone is approximately 800 hectares,” he said.

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