Festus Adebayo

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‘Funds available to pay customers of collapsed 23 savings and loans, finance houses’

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has given the assurance that funds are available to pay depositors of the 23 savings and loans companies and finance house companies that have been shut down.

“In line with the Government’s commitment to protect depositors’ funds, the Government has made funds available to enable the Receiver pay depositors after their claims are validated. The Receiver will in due course make an announcement with regards to when and where payments will be made,” a statement issued on Friday by the BoG said.

It said the Receiver, Eric Nipah would make known documents required from the affected depositors to facilitate the validation of claims and orderly payment of validated deposits.

The BoG revoked the licences of the 23 companies because they were highly insolvent.

The BoG also revoked the licences of two nonbank financial institutions, namely Express Funds International Ltd (remittance company) and Ghana Leasing Company Ltd (leasing company).

According to the BoG, the two entities have been insolvent and have been inactive for a number of years.

“This action is pursuant to Section 7 of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Act, 2008 (Act 774), which mandates the Bank of Ghana to revoke the licence of a non-bank financial institution licensed under that Act if that institution among other things ceases to carry on business,” it said.

Thus, the BoG says it has completed the clean-up of the banking, specialized deposit-taking (SDI), and non-bank financial institutions (NBFI) sectors which began in August 2017.

“This follows the revocation of the licences of nine (9) universal banks, 347 microfinance companies (of which 155 had already ceased operations), 39 micro credit companies/money lenders (10 of which had already ceased operations), 15 savings and loans companies, eight (8) finance house companies, and two (2) non-bank financial institutions that had already ceased operations,” it said.

What Nigeria Govt. Should Know About Impact of Housing Sector Development

The housing sector is the bedrock of the economy of most developed nations, an important tool for stimulating growth. Housing construction indices are some of the most common measures used by analysts to gauge economic trends in OECD countries. In more advanced countries like the United States of America, Britain and Canada, the sector contributes between 30 percent and 70 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investment in housing accounts for 15 percent to 35 percent of aggregate investment worldwide and the sector employs approximately 10 percent of labour force worldwide.

The sector of the Nigerian economy that has a very bright future is real estate. Despite the economic downturn, the sector has been growing in leaps and bounds, with high rise buildings, shopping malls, hotels springing up everywhere from Lagos to Abuja, to Port Harcourt, to name just a few.

According to a 2014 forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), strong developments in the construction, real estate, and technology sectors in developing countries such as Nigeria has supported the world economy through tough financial periods in recent years. It also predicts that these developing nations will account for about 70 percent of world growth over the next decade.

Nigeria is touted at the moment as one of the developing countries with great potentials in real estate, and one of the competitive players in the global real estate market that is fast becoming increasingly attractive to investors.

Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics put real estate contribution to Nigeria’s GDP at 7.5 per cent, a figure that left many stakeholders surprised at what they described as a very poor rating by the body.

To really appreciate the importance of real estate to the country’s GDP, they called on the federal government to integrate the construction and building sector into the formal sector in order to capture their contributions accurately.

However, though real estate is still a small contributor to the country’s GDP, its importance cannot be over-emphasised. Perhaps the best way to really understand the importance of the real estate sector to Nigeria’s economy is to compare it to other emerging and developed countries of the world. Another way to do this would be to compare its growth to the country’s economic growth.

Let’s start with the latter. The Nigerian economy grew by 2.35 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2015, down from 3.96 percent expansion reported in the previous quarter.

This has been attributed to the decline in oil production and prices, and recently, the Federal Government admitted that the country’s economy was “technically in recession” having gone on two quarters of negative growth.

That admission, though coated in technicality, corroborates the recent forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who predicts that Nigeria’s economy was likely to contract by a further 1.8 per cent this year. In other words, the country which had earlier overtaken South Africa as the fastest growing economy in Africa is now heading towards recession.

Ironically, while the country’s economy suffers from stunted growth, the real estate sector has been on the upswing, growing faster than the average GDP at a rate of about 8.7 per cent, according to the accounting and auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as well as stakeholders like the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance, with a projection to grow by 10 per cent in the near future.

In its May 2015 report titled, ‘Real Estate: Building the Future of Africa,’ PwC further predicted that Nigeria’s real estate investment will rise by about 49 per cent, from $9.16 billion last year to $13.65 billion this year. It attributes this to a growing middle class driving demand for residential property development, and indirectly, retail, industrial and commercial real estate development.

However, experts believe that the sector could do better with the right incentive. According to them, despite its growth, the real estate sector still remains a small contributor in the country’s GDP, especially when compared to other emerging and developed countries like South Africa, Brazil, China, and the US.

This could be attributed to several problems plaguing the sector. One of them as highlighted by the PwC report is access to finance. “There are existing problems with access to finance; with a lack of long-term debt financing and an underdeveloped mortgage market, with mortgage loans representing less than 1 per cent of the nation’s GDP.” Another, the report says, is the cumbersome and time-consuming process for land acquisition and ownership documentation which makes land acquisition difficult, even though land is very cheap in Lagos, compared to other emerging cities across the world.

Lack of infrastructure still remains a major concern for the sector as the non-availability of basic services such as water and energy has forced developers to provide these amenities themselves, thereby raising their total development costs by up to 30 per cent, the report further lamented.

All these have led to a severe shortage in the sector, with the yearly supply nowhere near what is needed. The country, like the rest of Africa, remains severely undersupplied, especially when it comes to high-quality commercial space.

Retailer expansion also continues to be hindered by a lack of high-quality retail accommodation. Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that the stock of ‘Grade A’ shopping malls across.

The economy of developed countries like USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan and many more relies heavily on the real estate sector. This is why crashes in real estate markets often result to global economic meltdowns. It proves how important the sector is in the development of an economy.

Africa (excluding South Africa) is less than 1.5 million square metres – that’s barely equivalent to the stock of Hungary, a country of just 10 million people against one billion in Africa.

In Nigeria, a country of over 180 million people, the housing shortage can be seen in low, middle income residential and office spaces. And as the country’s population increases, we will see further strains on an already challenged industry. At the moment, Nigeria is believed to have a housing deficit of 17 million. According to experts, affordable housing and accommodation must be the major driver if the nation’s real estate sector is to deliver at the rate and scale needed to contribute significantly to the nation’s economy.

To plug the housing gap, the World Bank in its 2014 study stated that N59. 5 trillion would be needed at N3.5 million per unit. What this means is that despite the harsh economic conditions, the real estate sector still represents a huge opportunity for positively impacting the economy to promote growth and inclusion.

This is because housing is not only a basic necessity that affects the welfare of the citizenry, but also a critical sector of an economy. Therefore a viable and sustainable housing finance plan is essential.

To achieve this, experts insist, the industry requires the availability of affordable long-term funds to be provided by the capital market. According to them, funding from the capital market reduces the cost of mortgage loans, cost of funds and allows for longer repayment tenor.

In addition, there should also be a general review of the house types, as well as their sizes and quality, with more efficient designs. Also needed is high quality infrastructure such as the ones provided in the Eko Atlantic City.

Modeled after the skyscraper District of Manhattan Island in New York City, it is expected that the new city will be home 450,000 residents, with commuter volume expected to exceed 300,000 people daily. Self-sufficient and sustainable, it includes state-of-the-art urban design, its own power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads and over 200,000 trees.

The uniqueness of the initiative for the region is that the residential units will be constructed as vertical high-rise apartment towers due to limited space for the traditional single family detached units. There are already over 500 units of apartments of various room sizes ranging from one bedroom to four bedroom apartments already under construction. The first residential tower is completely sold out and the first set of units will be delivered over the next couple of months.

With such ambitious projects, stakeholders remain optimistic that the real estate sector can contribute immensely in resolving the current economic problems faced by the country also be a major source of employment for the country’s fast growing population.

Nigeria’s Former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola agrees, describing the real estate industry as a strategic sub-sector in the construction industry that has remained an important contributor to the Gross Domestic Product with vast potentials for energizing and catalyzing growth of the overall national economy.

This is therefore a clarion call on the federal and state governments, the national and state assemblies to rise up with the political will that will encourage investment in the real estate sector of Africa’s most populous country – Nigeria.

 

How Technology Can Help Housing Sector Development in Nigeria

In the housing sector, demand far outpaces supply. As the world’s population expands, finding suitable accommodation is a global problem. According to the World Resources Institute, the global affordable housing gap is estimated at 330 million households… and that’s just in urban environments. By 2025, this number is expected to grow by 30 per cent, leaving 1.6 billion people without secure, affordable housing. Current housing development plans, despite their best efforts, have proved inadequate.

In Nigeria, the situation is even grimmer with at least 17 million housing deficit. To bridge Nigeria’s housing gap, many believe that the current models and practises need to be revolutionised.

Nigeria is in the midst of a brutal housing crisis, and the issue of slow supply of housing to meet demand will be further exacerbated by the ongoing economic contraction and slow growth.

If the country is to meet its target of building enough homes for its teeming population, the industry cannot rely on government initiatives alone. This presents an opportunity for technology to bring some much-needed disruption to the construction sector.

Globally, the housing sector is undergoing a revolution in terms of both attitude and technology. How is tech being used to respond to the lack of quality homes, and what are the outcomes?

We shall now outline a few ways technology can rapidly improve housing sector development for Nigeria.

Data Technology

The 21st century is the age of data revolution. Modern planning and execution are heavily reliant on data and information technology. One of the bane to housing sector development in Nigeria is the lack of adequate and updated data.

The Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) has launched the National Real Estate Data Collation and Management Programme (NRE-DCMP), which is designed to help tackle housing problems in Nigeria, including that of deficit. Also, the NMRC has been doing tremendous work in the management of data, but a lot more need to be done, especially with regard to having a large central data pool that can be accessed by all stakeholders involved in planning and execution of housing sector developments.

Smart Cities and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The concept of smart cities and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ are the buzz words that have dominated urban thinking and discussion in recent years. Developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing are promising a new era of contemporary urban development. Behind this era is the rapid and expediential growth of I.T devices, present within everything, from complex global systems to individual pocket devices. It is argued that the onset of the fourth industrial revolution and the smart city; where connected devices will number into the trillions, will transform urban areas into continuous ‘living labs’, constantly receiving, analyzing and refining data to efficiently manage products and services. The opportunities are captivating as much as they are countless and the pace of technological innovation so tireless that governments, municipalities and private enterprise are already struggling to comprehend the extent of their digital urban futures.

High Skilled and Automated Labour

The world is already adopting automated and high skilled labour forces to improve the quality and quantity of housing delivery. Nigeria’s fixation with brick and mortar can hardly ever scratch the surfaces when it comes to delivering quality and quantity. A lot of stakeholders have called for the embrace of researches and training to develop strategies that can compete with 21st century demands in the provision of housing.

Who Will End the Endless Deaths and Flooding Problem in Lokogoma?

Lokogoma is one of the sprawling estate development areas in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The estate which started when the city administration felt the need to create more land for people seeking land outside the city centre has undergone a lot of development over the recent years and with this has come a significant increase in population. A number of gated houses estates have sprung up along the Lokogoma expressway, as well as commercial spaces, supermarkets, bars and recreational parks.

But with this development and increase in population has come a couple of challenges – notably flooding and poor infrastructure. In 2017, a man known as Kenneth Nwoga, and his two children, Winner and Prestige, died in the flood while driving from I-Pent5 estate on August 17. The man who was conveying his kids to school had his white Honda SUV drawn and submerged while trying to cross a flooded bridge.

That sad incident led to a lot of outcry. Protesters packed the streets of Lokogoma demanding infrastructural intervention in the area which was obviously lacking good road networks, drainages and water channels for the encroaching tributaries.

The crowd that had gathered dressed in black attires held placards with various inscriptions.

“Save Our Souls, Provide Primary Infrastructure Now! #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN.”

Others read “We are tax payers! We deserve government presence in Lokogoma #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN”.

“Flood is controllable, provide infrastructure now #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN”.

One of the conveners of the march, Joseph Nnorom, told journalists that the government has “abdicated” its responsibility by not providing basic infrastructure in Lokogoma.

The physician explained that there were about 30 estates (at that time) and about 400,000 subscribers of the mass housing scheme in Lokogoma.

“We subscribed because we had faith in government even though it’s on a PPP, private public-sector partnership,” he said.

“We also believed and bought into it, but unfortunately as you can see, if you look, there are no roads here, what you see here as roads are actually tracks that were made by tippers and lorries delivering building materials to construction sites.

“That is what we have been using since 2008 till date as access roads.

“Government has completely abdicated its responsibility to provide primary infrastructure which is defined as access road and drainage to all the estates. Granted that some of the developers have not done the internal infrastructure, but the government was supervising access roads and the internal infrastructure there has been a complete failure of the whole thing,” he added.

Speaking further, Mr. Nnorom revealed that letters had been written to the Abuja minister towards relieving the plight of residents of the area.

“We have made representations to the authorities; we have written to the minister previously, we have the acknowledgment copy of what we wrote to honourable minister to come to our aid.

“Anytime it rains, most of us will be trapped outside the whole of this place until the rain subsides.”

The doctor also narrated what happened on the day the father and his children died.

“A family of seven, the bread winner and the two eldest children are gone. We have heard all sorts of rumours about what happened. What happened was that the man was going to send the daughter and the son to summer school and unfortunately their car was swept off by flood and they drowned,” he said.

“We have written the honourable minister including the goring mortuary pictures of the diseased, and the letter was submitted on Monday again. So today we decided, we have to come make ourselves physically available for people to see that there are human beings living here not animals.

“For crying out loud, Lokogoma is part of FCT as you can see there is no government presence. It is Kenneth Nwoga’s family now; it may be my family next time. Even when you are not around, your children may take a wrong decision so it is an environmental hazard that everybody is exposed to.’’

Two years after, in spite of the decision by the city authority to dispatch an assessment team of engineers to the area and seek an end to the problem, flood deaths are still reoccurring in Lokogoma. On the 6th of June 2019, a 17-year-old boy named Tuesday Bala died as a result of the heavy downpour that lasted for over four hours in the area.

On the same day, an unnamed housemaid also died in the flood that submerged part of EFAB Estate. The house help was unable to leave the house when it was besieged by the flood.

One of the executives of the estate’s landlords’ forum, Shettima Gana Mohammed, told journalists that more than 15 houses and two churches were submerged by the flood. “We called NEMA and Fire Service but they did not come but the police were there and other security officers within the estates. They came with the people from facility office in the estate.

“We did all we could and saved some of the residents but unfortunately in one of the houses, a male house help whose name wasn’t told to us died,’’ he said.

Few weeks ago, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FCT FEMA), rescued some residents of Emerald Flower estate, Lokogoma district and Maitama extension after flood-ravaged and submerged the communities.

A lot of residents in the area wonder how many more should die before the city authorities intervene. There are also a couple of illegal housing developments in the area which have blocked some waterways. It is time for the city authority to wield the big stick as it has promised by removing such illegal structures.

That should also be followed by a proper construction of quality roads and bridges in the area which now host a good population of people in the city. If these measures are not taken, residents of Lokogoma will continue to record needless deaths and erosion. It is the responsibility of relevant authorities to ensure the protection of lives and properties, and this they must use as the basis of assessing their own performance. The clock is ticking.

By Festus Adebayo

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