When the flagship Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) took off over a decade ago, the expectations were high, and so were the standards – prompting both sceptics and interested stakeholders to wonder how such a show – a first of its kind – will be able to achieve its lofty dreams of making drastic impacts in the already tough Nigerian housing and construction sectors. So far so good, the expectations were not only met but the show has absolutely carved a permanent niche for itself and has established a platform for both public and private sector stakeholders to draw inspiration from in addressing sector related problems in Nigeria and even on the continent.
From government officials looking for informed opinion(s) on emerging housing and construction policy dynamics, to private sector developers and investors looking for the best clients, environments and opportunities for establishment, to customers looking for the best housing deals, mortgages, credit and whatever access they need, the Abuja International Housing Show has been the best and most established platform in Africa for such convergence.
The participants who attend from different parts of the world usually attest that the event does not only create awareness on the major challenges in developing or strengthening housing industry and finance markets but also focus extensively on solutions and resolution of these challenges by highlighting innovations, new ideas and global experiences in the sector.
On that note, we shall take a look at some of the outstanding achievements of the Show over these years. This will enable all stakeholders to measure the Show’s success and build their confidence.
The Establishment of Land GIS in States
In the course of debates that were initiated by the Show, one of the top recommendations for state governments to adopt in addressing the issues relating to land was the establishment of Land Geographical Information System (LGIS).
So far, this has been adopted by most states in Nigeria, and it has enabled them create a comprehensive data on lands and its allocation.
The disputes that used to be associated with lands in most states have been drastically reduced as a result of this initiative. The centralised system now serves as the final arbiter when matters relating to land disputes arises.
Establishment of State Ministries of Housing
Prior to when the show started, most state governments had not realised the need to establish a designated ministry for housing. Stakeholders on the Show were able to convince most states on the need to establish this ministry, given that housing is a very critical sector that cannot be left in the hands of the federal government only.
While some states have situated housing within ministry of works or land, the realisation that housing requires special treatment by state government was successfully pushed by the Abuja International Housing Show.
Recorded improvements have been seen in the states where these changes were effected.
Housing Legislation by State and Federal Government
While the Abuja International Housing Show has and will continue to canvas for the national passage of all that will benefit the developt of the Nigeria housing sector, its annual conference has been able to encourage the NMRC at the 11th edition of the show to champion the need get states govt to adopt foreclosure law.
There are already signs of progress on land use act. As Senate President of the 8th Senate, Bukola Saraki was able to commence the process for amendment of the land use act which has gotten to its second reading.
It is the hope of AIHS that the incoming assembly will ensure its eventual passage.
Corporate Housing and Construction Partnerships
The Show has led to so many corporate breakthroughs and partnerships in the areas of housing and construction. A lot of companies and firms have through the show signed countless number of MOUs for partnerships.
Chief among bodies that have signed MOUs at the Abuja International Housing Show includes Hydraform, NBRRI, NMRC among others.
Such partnerships that have been established at the Show has over the years led to new ideas and projects that have brought housing to many and have also introduced best practises and modern technology in the construction industry.
Companies like Hydraform and EchoStone have been able to successfully help the Nigeria construction industry with their high-tech building innovations. The contribution of AIHS to that cannot be overstated.
A Policy Development Forum
The Abuja International Housing Show has and will always be an opportunity for policy makers, practitioners, NGOs and donors to gather, exchange views, learn about latest developments in the area of housing policy and improve their decision making in that area.
So many public officials have attested to the fact that the show has offered them the opportunity to identify the loopholes in government policies and how to improve them to meet arising challenges.
That is primarily why the organisers of this year’s edition have tasked members of the incoming 9th National Assembly to be involved in the Show in order to learn from stakeholders about the laws that needs the most urgent attention.
A Marketplace of Information
The Abuja International Housing Show has been constantly praised for being a marketplace of information because the Show recognises that the most potent resource of the 21st century and especially in the Housing and Construction Sector is information. Things change quickly, and only those who can keep up will be able to compete and stay relevant in the industry.
Having access to veritable information has always been one of the most important benefits for stakeholders who attend the AIHS.
A major highlight of the event is the showcase of innovative developments in the housing industry, paper presentations from experts and leading names in the industry.
In addition, renowned experts will provide housing market forecasts and examine issues such as employment, home prices, production, demand and supply.
Clearly, there is no other platform in Nigeria that can bring together as many professionals, not only from housing, real estate and construction sectors, but also from government, investment, and capital markets to share their first-hand experience, knowledge and expertise on varied issues related directly or indirectly to housing and development.
Realising that job creation is a responsibility of all stakeholders in the country, on its part, the Abuja International Housing Show has been able to provide opportunities for skilled persons in the industry and even elsewhere to tap into the job opportunities that are always available at the show.
Most partners and exhibitors at the Show also used the platform to seek out skilled persons that can join their team and improve their capacity.
Manufacturing companies and exhibitors have also been able to through the Show employ the labour of informal labourers like plumbers, welders, carpenters and a host of other artisans.
The AIHS has received testimonies from many young people whose careers were defined and even kick-started by the Show.
Being a number one place for professional networking, many young graduates and professionals looking for how to advance their career use the show as a stepping stone to greatness.
Local Business opportunities
Each year, the Show creates immediate business opportunities for the host city Abuja. The city’s businesses usually experience a major boom during the show because of the influx of visitors and investors.
Hospitality businesses like hotels, restaurants, parks, clubs and other social entertainments usually record a lot of patronage from guests and visitors that are brought into the city by the show.
It is also the same experience for printing and press companies whose services are in high demand during the show.
Local events managers also take advantage of the show to expand their market in order to cater to the events that take place during the Show.
Over the years, the contribution of AIHS to Abuja’s local economy cannot be overemphasised.
Introduction of New Products and Sales Market
The AIHS usually host many stands owned by several organisations and brands seeking to introduce their new products and ideas to prospective buyers, clients and investors. The registration platform provides opportunity slots for such brands to book in advance and reap the benefits that come with partnering with the largest Housing Show.
In past years, the Show has enabled the exhibition of contemporary-modern roof designs, furniture and new innovations in building technology.
The Abuja International Housing Show helps to stimulate the building and construction industry in terms of design-led housing solutions, and high quality home-grown materials and products which are always in presentation.
Also, given that the convener of the Abuja International Housing Show is the promoter of Housing TV, housing development program showing on stations like AIT, TVC and NTA, housing time on Ray power and owner of the largest housing news portal, and not mentioning the live coverage on all social media platforms; it’s a guarantee that participants and exhibitors will get optimum publicity at almost no cost.
The product market it has created remains the target for new brands and innovations seeking an avenue for sales.
Creating Opportunities for Best Bargains
Many participants choose to attend the Show because of its wide display of products at unbeatable rates. The show offers opportunities to make direct purchases at discounted rates.
The Show has helped reduce the cost of home acquisition because it demands the participating mortgage banks and estate developers to sell their products at much discounted event-rates, which is usually the case. As a result, a lot of people come to the Show without a home, but eventually leave with one because the deals are usually too good to be rejected.
The Show has overtime helped people expose themselves and their organizations to new options of housing financing.
Recognition of Excellence
While there is a lot of focus on inherent problems, the Show also recognises the need to encourage performers in the housing and construction sector by awarding them for their works, which will serve as inspiration and a call to action for others to step up their performances.
The Show usually ends in a grand style with the Nigeria Housing Awards, an award event put together to honour and celebrate firms, agencies and personalities who have made giant strides in the housing sector in the past year.
Some past awardees have gone ahead to even achieve greater things – a validation for the award they received from the Show.
There is no bigger platform that is committed to honouring the best of the best than the Nigeria Housing Awards.
Affordable Housing and Housing Development Advocacy
What many have come to appreciate about the Show is its ability to ensure that beyond advocacy, there is the demand on stakeholders to act on their pledges to provide affordable housing and improve housing development generally.
It is worthy of note that the well thought designs and events that makes the AIHS the largest and most successful are inexhaustible. This is where stakeholders discover best practices and new methods for improving efficiency in all areas of the home with construction demos led by top building science experts. It is where global housing enthusiasts connect with like-minded professionals and industry experts in workshops, round-table discussions and networking events.
So far, the event has been able to help achieve reasonable level of housing affordability, access to mortgage options and market growth for relevant stakeholders and clients in the housing and construction industry. The show’s projection to significantly improve the housing deficit in Nigeria, Africa and the world is still very potent and plausible.
Every Show is always an improvement from the previous. While the show can clearly point at its achievements as we have seen, it also bears in mind that the work is far from done and all hands remain on deck. It is this determination to never relent that sets the Show apart from others.