Mr. Assen Makedonov is a property professional from Bulgaria; he assumed office in May 2018 as the World President of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). He was in Nigeria for a business forum and the Real Estate Excellence Awards. In this interview,he said FIABCI has been serving the global real estate industry since it was established in 1951
Why are you in Nigeria?
I am the president of FIABCI, the world organisation for Real Estate. I came to Nigeria for the first time in my life at the invitation of our FIABCI chapter in Nigeria. We organised a business forum and tonight there will be Real Estate excellence awards for the members of FIABCI in Nigeria. The Real Estate Excellence Awards is the best project in the country. The best development and the winners of the event, they have a chance to go for the minor stage at the Indonesia event which will hold end of May during our own congress in Moscow, Russia before May 27th.
What does FIABCI do as an organisation?
FIABCI is a Non-governmental organisation (NGO), it is the only one global organisation that covers the real estate business. We started the NGO with five countries in France in1951 and now we are represented in 70 countries around the world and 50 chapters, and one of these countries is Nigeria. We are not only for the Brokers, FIABCI include more than 40 professions that are in the business. Such as brokers, developers, property managers, appraisals amongst others that make up 40 professions that joined FIABCI. All the people that are working in the real estate business are enjoying FIABCI through the association or through the local chapter.
How long has FIABCI chapter been in existence in Nigeria?
I think we‘ve had this chapter more than 40years, because FIABCI was established in 1951, now we have few years to celebrate our 70th anniversary. Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have many chapters. We are very well represented in Asia and all the countries in Asia we have all the chapters. In Europe we have 25 chapters, seven chapters in America, but in Africa we have only two and three in Nigeria. So our friends have to develop these regions in Africa because we have so many countries in Africa. We hope our friends in the existing chapters in Nigeria will help to contact the neighboring countries at least countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana or North Africa, I hope in the next five years we would get 50 chapters in Africa.
Do you work in collaboration with the government of these countries?
We do not collaborate with the government, but we are working very closely with the United Nations. And the United Nations is working with the governments. So there is a connection, but it is not direct. So we are working with the UN in two directions; one is social and affordable housing and the second is, seeking prosperity initiative. So in the social and affordable housing, since we started in 2016, every year, we issue one book. Where we are showing the best examples of social and affordable housing in our chapter country, so that everybody can see how we can make the real estate product attractive. We also show people who don’t have enough income to go to the market to buy the property they like because there is a lot of poverties all over the world. By 2050, 70 per cent of the population will be living the cities which is a huge problem. I am sure that in Lagos you will have similar problems because in Lagos, there are more than 12 million people living in the city, so the population in 2050 will be doubled.
Some of the challenges affecting local developers were raised in the course of the discussion; how does the main body intend to assist them at least in a developing country like Nigeria?
Like I said about social and affordable housing, we are showing some of the best examples that needed to be done. We published a book in 2016 and the second book in 2017 and last edition was last year. We are hoping to publish the fourth edition this year in May where these books will enlighten how different countries will try and solve some of these problems. And I think it will be very good for the people of FIABCI in Nigeria to get these books so that it can be shown to the government and the respective ministries, they may find the books very useful. The examples of some of them can be implemented in Nigeria.
The second one is seeking prosperity initiative is the measuring of the development of the cities through the eyes of the citizens in the cities because they need to know about the areas that are water logged, green places in the city, about the atmosphere, air pollution, areas there is communicable diseases. So FIABCI has developed software about the habitat, the idea is to make the software in every three or five years; and after this project, we hope it will be implemented in the cities.
Why was FIABCI established and when did Bulgaria become a chapter?
FIABCI was established in France in 1951 and Bulgaria chapter was established 15 years ago.
How many countries started FIABCI?
Five countries came together to form the Association and these countries are Belgium, United States of America, Germany, Luxemburg and Austria founded FIABCI. It is a non-governmental organisation; the five countries saw the necessity to establish Real Estate Business. So after ten years their presence was registered in more than 20 countries on the continent. In fact, they saw the need to work together as a body and they went to the United Nations so that they can be influenced in the industries around the world. The United Nations saw the Association as a necessity to provide better conditions for the place in the Real Estate industry as well as helping the local industries with their governments to make a better law that will protect the industry.
What is your major challenge so far?
In one year, there can be many challenges, but it cannot be solved in one year. The major challenge at the moment for FIABCI is that we have not been able to get the rest of the world to come in as members. In getting countries as chapters, like I said in Africa we have two chapters, it is a big challenge that I cannot solve within one year in office…. A lot of volunteers are working for FIABCI, because we are working voluntarily.We hope that we get development in the city in the future. But with the help of other past presidents and a lot of volunteers that are working for FIABCI, we are working as volunteers, it will quicken development in the cities in the nearby future. And I hope that you will see some of the developments in the city
What have you been able to put in place within one year of being in office?
The president spends one year in office, he is president direct to oversee the affairs of the organisation for the one year in office. But after one year he steps down, he joins the member of the executive board of FIABCI, for three years to ensure continuity. Every past president puts their heads together to continue the work of the previous presidents which can last to 2050. Some of the past presidents are here. After only one year in office, if you start a project you may not be able to accomplish it.
Source: Flora Onwudiwe/New Telegraph