Reporter

Non-implementation of local building materials’ policy an impedient to housing delivery

A major paradigm shift in the use of indigenous building materials for housing design and construction may take long to come, following the inability of the Federal Government and its agencies to implement the new National Housing Policy.

Under the 2017 National Housing Policy, the government was urged to pursue vigorously the adoption of functional design standards that will facilitate cost reduction, affordability, acceptability and sustainability, which will respond to the cultural and regional peculiarities of potential users; expand and improve the manufacturing base for building materials production from all available local materials and evolve a more efficient distribution system.

According to the policy, the development of appropriate capacities to achieve sufficiency in the production of basic building materials and components of acceptable quality from local resources will stimulate effective economic growth and development; and structured manpower development programme for domestic requirement and international engagement.

The document further called on the authorities to encourage the expansion of existing industries producing building materials from local sources such as clay, bricks, concrete products, timber, glass and tiles.

It wants collaboration with other developing countries in the development of technical know-how for building materials manufacture; and encouragement in regional spread of building materials industries to stabilize cost as well as widen distribution.

Notwithstanding the good intentions of the stakeholders to ensure a robust indigenous building materials market, the absence of effective indigenous technology for the production of building materials, new building materials factories due to high cost of finance; inadequate and inefficient Infrastructural facilities (roads and rail transportation, water, sanitation, and power supply have worsened the plights of manufacturers and investors.

Besides, the recommendations of the policy for government to encourage the production and use of locally manufactured building materials by: providing incentives to, and creating the enabling environment for the private sector in order to encourage rapid flow of funds into building materials manufacturing through tax relief, accelerated depreciation and generous capital allowances are not adhered to.

There is also minimal support in providing matching grants for investments into research in the use of local materials for building materials manufacturers; providing loans at reduced rate of interest to manufacturers who will in turn supply self-built housing cooperatives and developers of low-income housing with their products at reasonable prices; attracting foreign participation into the building materials industry; and using local building materials for public projects at all tiers of government.

The Building Materials Producers Association of Nigeria (BUMPAN) formed to promote and encourage the production of building materials has remained in comatose.

The association is supposed to lay a solid foundation for the development of robust, effective and economically viable small and medium scale industries for the production of building materials.

Other strategies that are enshrined in the document such as strengthening the administrative, regulatory and institutional framework to ensure certification, registration and control of professional practices; supporting an integrated action programme for the organization of the informal building materials marketing sector; restructuring and adequately fund the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI); and encourage establishment of building materials testing laboratories by the private sector have not been supported by the government.

Experts say, the non-adherence to the content of the policy is impacting negatively in the housing delivery, which should reduce the housing gap.

According to them, since the aim of the housing policy is to solve housing problems, there is the necessity to enhance the workability of the policy in order to achieve the goal.

Consequently, they stressed the need for periodic review of the housing policy to make it functional and acceptable.

The immediate past president of Nigeria Institute of Architects, (NIA), Tonye Braide, said the policy is a mere paper work as there are many cheap materials coming from China, which are competing with the local materials.

According to him, government should come out with a better policy as the price of the local materials are still high, which is reducing the local component needed for housing delivery.

He lamented a situation where materials that come from outside the country is cheaper and of higher quality, which will not help in mass construction of housing and ultimately reduce the housing deficit.

He said: “ it is not right that some body will carry materials all the way from China and it will be cheaper than the one manufactured locally.

“Like the project, we are doing in Akwa ibom, there is no local content element in the project.

“In the presentation of proposal, you have to put it that construction will use local content and local labour but in practice that is not the case.

“I feel that there must be a conceited effort than the lip service we are seeing in the implementation of the policy”, he added.

For NIA second Vice President, Enyi Ben-Eboh, there is a noticeable difference to the extent that such materials like cement are locally available. “To a large extent, there are areas in basic housing that foreign components are utilised.

“ One of the few aspects is roofing aluminum sheets where we still depend on foreign materials imported.

He also said the foreign doors from China is becoming common. If you look at the cost in relation to a wooden door, which may not be as durable, people will still prefer Chinese metal doors.

“To that extent, the government may have to look into how some of these materials that are unfavourably competitive with local ones can be either made to pay higher tariff or allow incentives for local manufacturers to be able to compete to achieve mass housing and eventually reduce the housing deficit.

According to him, affordable housing thrives on mass production.

“Whatever is manufactured, if it is done over a large quantity ,the prices come down, so if most of these components are produced locally like cement, it can meet the housing demand in Nigeria.

“We will get to a time when local product outweighs demand, then competition will come and the price will begin to come down.

“Presently, if you assemble available materials for a two bedroom bungalow, the price will still not be affordable to those who wants it.

“You found out that those who can afford a two bedroom bungalow are senior civil servants who do not need that level of housing .

“For the people below level seven and downwards, they cannot afford the local materials based on their salaries”, he added.

Speaking also on the local content consideration of the policy, an official of the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Razaq Babatunde Lawal said the institute has been able to develop building materials like Pozzolana, a cementious material, Mardotile roofing, and other varieties of machines but mass-producing it for the housing industry, has been a big challenge.

“Pozzolana is an ancient materials of construction that is coming back in view of its advantages and need to have an alternative cementitious material apart from over dependence on ordinary Portland cement hundred per cent.

The material like Pozzolana was developed and used in the past but it is now staging a come back become of its affordability and its usefulness as a building material.

Pozzolana materials include volcanic ash, power station fly ash, burnt clays ash from some burnt plant materials; siliceous earths. When mixed with cements, it activates the cementing properties to reduce cost of concretes made from composite materials often referred to as blended cement”.

According to him, the product reduces cost of efficiency of mortar and concretes, improves workability of mortar and concrete, reduces heat of hydration and reduction on effects of alkali aggregate reactivity.

He disclosed that the first pozzolana plant in Nigeria has been commissioned and ready for investors to show interest.

Lawal who works in the Engineering Materials Research Department (EMRD) said “NBRRI has developed interlocking block making machine in which the blocks made don’t necessarily need to use mortal while plastering yet you will have very aesthetic building.

We have developed fiber-reinforced material for roofing of buildings. We have also improved on it by increasing the size with about 5mm in thickness, longer and reduce the laying time. NBRRI has all the professionals in the building environment and has developed various machines for the built sector.

The institute, he said hasn’t been able to mass-produce the materials and equipment because its mandate is solely to carry out research.

He explained that while it carries out research, the institute expects the public, based on exhibitions attended that investors should reach out to it and develop the products to the next level in terms of commercialization and forming partnership through proposals.

He stated that the fund to mass-produce its products might not be available. However, he said with institutional, private and foreign supports, the commercialization of its materials could be possible.

“Government has tried by going into pilots of the inventions but as a research institute over the years, we just write papers and it remains on the shelf if the products of the efforts is not commercialized”. Now we are having pilot plans in some universities. Through research we can avoid emissions by stopping the use of cement and start using alternative material. Cement industry and construction firms can partner with us through programmes on affordable housing and when they are using their cement, they could think of Pozzolana”, he said.

He observed that for the past 11years, interventions from the institute were not been felt, however, the current crops of leadership are desirous to let Nigerians feel its activity through development of exceptional building materials for building construction in the country.

Managing Director of Bolyn construction Nigeria Limited, a brick manufacturing company, Elder Rufus Bamgbola Akinrolabu said government has shown lack of political will to implement housing policies.

He lamented that government’s direct involvement in the housing sector over the years has led to politicisation of policies and programmes including those relating to housing, to the detriment of Nigerians.

He blamed the situation on issue of corruption in system, which has made ‘nothing’ to be implemented in the previous years.

Akinrolabu, who is a manufacturer of low-cost housing equipment based in Lagos, explained that Nigeria’s housing problem could become a thing of the past if only the government and people will look inwards and use the local materials that God has blessed the nation with.

“Many of the policies require money to implement and with the fall in the global price of oil, where is the money? Nigerian government has no business in housing because everything has been politicised. if you politicize everything and you go to the national assembly, ask them to budget funds and the money is appropriated and at the end of the day, the money is shared. How can policies be implemented when the government has no money”, he said.

Source: Guardian

It’s Possible to Develop New Housing Without Displacing Tons of Renters

Is it possible to build more housing without pushing renters from their homes?

Metro Vancouver is mostly built out, and there are policies in place to protect important agricultural, industrial and natural land from being turned into residential.

So if developers want to build new homes, they’ll likely have to destroy old ones.

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But while displacement is a reality of development in a maturing region, it shouldn’t always be vulnerable people who bear the brunt of change, say two urban professionals.

That’s what happened in Burnaby’s Metrotown, where a 2011 policy sped up development and a massive displacement of renters — all backed by the strategy of “transit-oriented growth.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Data analyst Jens von Bergmann and transportation planner Denis Agar created visualizations of census data and found that many residential areas already served by frequent transit could handle more density with less displacement.

Currently, growth is often targeted around already dense areas of renters. Agar describes it as a “dark game of musical chairs” as renters are displaced and forced to find new homes.

And this is what it looks like when the number of renters per acre is mapped out on that network:

“We’ve been doing the thing that’s politically easy,” explains von Bergmann.

He understands that change in a neighbourhood can be a frightening thing, but argues that homeowners, compared to renters, are much less vulnerable.

Displacement for homeowners is voluntary, he said. “You don’t have to sell in a land assembly, but if you do so, typically, you’re well compensated for that inconvenience. From that perspective, the homeowner that’s facing displacement has a lot of tools to deal with it.”

Renters, on the other hand, don’t have that choice to stay.

“If they’re renters that have lived in an older building for a long time and rely on the affordable rent that the building grants, when they’re displaced, there’s nothing in the neighbourhood they could afford to move into. These events can be very traumatic and devastating for a household.”

Von Bergmann believes that transit-oriented development is a good growth strategy — it’s greener than car-oriented sprawl and contributes to a better quality of urban life — but wants to see the execution be less harmful.

UBC geographers have documented the existence of a corridor of low-income renters along the SkyTrain line, who depend on the rapid transit as an affordable alternative to driving. They’ve been gradually displaced by condo development.

This isn’t new. After legislation allowed condominiums in B.C. in 1966 and developers warmed up to building them, rental neighbourhoods in Vancouver like Kitsilano and Fairview — popular areas with low rental vacancy rates in the early 1970s — were hit with “demovictions.”

This urban transformation was most famously documented by Vancouver geographer David Ley. His 1996 book opens with the story of Mrs. Edna Shakel, a widow in her 70s on a fixed pension, who lived in a Fairview rooming house shared with other senior women. Her friends, church and familiar services were only a walk away.

But when the market tipped into favouring condos, Shakel was demovicted. The newcomers who bought in the condo building that replaced her home included company presidents and business managers.

Demovictions in Metrotown and Burquitlam continue this tradition. Many of the renters there are low-income newcomers, including refugees.

Demovictions mean renters are pushed away from the core needs and conveniences their neighbourhoods provided.

“One can’t help but think that renters are being directly targeted, despite how much more vulnerable they are to eviction,” he said.

It’s something that the activists of Stop Displacement also noted in theirPeople’s Plan for Metrotown in 2017

“The land under these houses is overvalued and awaiting redevelopment, but Burnaby’s zoning laws limit the possible redevelopments to new single family homes,” it read. “This is a wasted opportunity [for a] much greater density gain.”

The activists’ plan doesn’t flat-out reject the redevelopment of Metrotown’s old walk-up apartments, but suggests that displaced renters be placed in non-market housing nearby before doing so.

(There is currently a moratorium on development in the area. One real estate agent specializing in apartment buildings says the situation is “confusing as hell.”)

Von Bergmann and Agar’s hope is that conversation around growth also examines how to reduce the growing pains.

“Each municipality has some idea of how to grow,” said von Bergmann. “But the one thing that seems to be missing from the debate is talking about displacement.”

Source: The Tyee

Nigeria’s infrastructure development can improve through the tax credit scheme

The scheme is a public-private partnership, which enables private companies fund the construction and refurbishment of eligible roads in Nigeria. In return, participants in the scheme are entitled to recover the project funds by way of tax credits, claimable against Companies Income Tax (CIT) payable. The scheme will be implemented and administered by a special management committee (the Committee), consisting of representatives from relevant Ministries and agencies, including Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and chaired by the Minister of Finance.

The scheme will be in force for a period of 10 years from the date of commencement of the Order. The Scheme is open to Nigerian companies (other than corporation sole), institutional investors and a pool of companies operating through a special purpose vehicle set up as an infrastructure fund. Eligible road refers to any road approved by the President as eligible for the scheme on the recommendation of the Minister of Finance and as duly notified to participants and published pursuant to the Order

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In a chat with Newsmen,  recently on the impact of this on the industrial sector and implication on the economy, the founder/President of International Centre for Tax Research  and Development  (ICTRD), Mrs. Morenike Tejade Babington-Ashaye, said if it is properly implemented by the Federal Government and participating companies, it will boost the industrial sector but caution should be taken in order not to violation the constitution.

Babington-Ashaye noted  the issue of road infrastructure tax credit scheme is a constitutional matter that the National Assembly must be aware of and which the executive must have presented in the 2019 Budget.  How much will be accommodated in annual budgets must be approved, otherwise the Executive will be funding projects outside the budget.  That is unconstitutional.

She stated the idea of President Buhari joining hands with the private sector for road development is a laudable and welcome approach.  However, the executive order 007 which is to use tax revenue to fund infrastructure is a new dimension which requires a critical look.

Executive Order

An executive order is the power granted to a President, Governor of a State, or Minister of the Federation in the Constitution or any act of Parliament to do certain things to complement the Constitution or the Act of Parliament.  The order is usually specific on issues that such power has been granted.  The President, Governor, or Minister cannot act outside that power.  For example in section 315 of the 1999 Constitution, the appropriate authority is given the power to make modifications in the text of any existing law as the appropriate considers necessary or expedient to bring that law into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution.  Modifications includes addition, alteration, omission or repeal. Existing law means any law and includes any rule of law or any enactment or instrument whatsoever which is in force before the 1999 Constitution.  Authority on the other hand means the President, Governor or any person appointed by any law to revise or rewrite the laws of the Federation or of a State.

Executive Order 007 on road infrastructure development and refurbishment stand for

The Executive Order 007 on road infrastructure development and refurbishment is an avenue for the Government to partner with the private sector to bring about the needed infrastructure development that has plagued the country for the past 20 years.  Despite budgetary allocations, road infrastructure and refurbishment are yet to develop to a satisfactory level.  To this end, in May 2018 President Buhari got the approval of National Executive Council (NEC) and launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PDIF) with N199 billion Naira (US$650 million). The National Sovereign Investment Fund (NSIF) Act was signed in 2011 while the Agency formally commence business in 2012.   President Buhari assigned the management of the PIDF to the NSIF.  It empowers the Authority to receive, manage and invest funds in a diversified portfolio of medium and long term assets on behalf of the Federal Government, State Governments, Federal Capital Territory, and Local Governments Area Councils in preparation for the eventual depletion of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources. To give effect to the mandates, the NSIA established three main funds: the Stabilisation Fund, the Future Generations Fund and the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund.  The role of the Stabilisation Fund is to provide budget support in times of economic stress; the Future Generations Fund is an inter-generational savings fund for future generations of Nigerians and the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund is to invest in domestic infrastructure.  After a series of start-up challenges, the NSIA began investment activities in the 3rd quarter of 2013, with a seed capital of US$1 billion, which was allocated as follows: 20% to the Stabilisation Fund, and 40% each to the Future Generations Fund and the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund. An additional $250 million was committed to the Authority by the National Executive Council on November 19th, 2015.  And in 2018 President Buhari added N199 billion Naira.

The above is to give a summary of facts that governments have been putting money aside for Infrastructure development and refurbishment.  The idea of President Buhari joining hands with the private sector for road development is a laudable and welcome approach.  However, the executive order 007 which is to use tax revenue to fund infrastructure is a new dimension which requires a critical look.

Benefit to industrial growth

Of course, when the roads are in good shape, the movement of goods and services would be much easier. As a country, we need to have good roads. For over the years Nigeria does not have good roads, and this is affecting the manufacturing sector and the  economy greatly. For the president to come up with Public-private partnership on Infrastructure development and refurbishment Investment tax credit scheme to boost industrial growth and economy  is good one. But cautions must be taken. The current steps would definitely improve the economy.

Urban Shelter MD speaks on how FG can address affordable housing challenges

Saadiya Aminu, MD/Chief Executive Officer, Urban Shelter Ltd., an Abuja-based real estate development company, in this interview, says getting Cs of O, access to land and infrastructure are some of the challenges hindering developers from delivering affordable housing.

Urban Shelter is majorly an Abuja based housing developer. Why is it so?

At Urban Shelter we provide real estate solutions and also have projects in commercial, retail and specialty projects. We are the first to develop a fully integrated estate, i.e. Karmo; then we moved to Katampe. We’ve been opening up neighborhoods for a very long time. Urban Shelter is also synonymous with Kubwa, our Brick City, and then we have Kado estate.

Presently, we are involved in a number of projects in at least three locations in Nigeria, we are heavily based in Abuja, but we have other projects in Minna, Niger State and Kaduna as well, and I’m proud to say that now we are in Lagos.

In Abuja, we deliver on the average a minimum of 300-400 houses per annum. We have a scale of projects from N3-100 million. We are active in Kyami, Lugbe, Kubwa, Lokogoma and Life Camp. We also have a retail development in collaboration with AMAC to develop over 2,000 shops in Apo district opposite Shoprite, we are developing it in phases.

In 2018, we signed agreement with the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) along with three other mortgage development banks, so that they can underwrite mortgages and they are really at favorable mortgage rates.

Life Camp has been a phenomenal project for us. It is in three phases, we have delivered the first phase, 33 units. Phase two will be 71 units while the third will be about 150, so collectively we are looking at about 300 homes in that axis.

We also have ongoing projects in Lugbe, 400 units on a 10 hectare land, with price ranging between N10 million and about N40 million; and Kyami, along Airport road just after Lugbe, with about 600 units.

We have also signed agreements to provide houses for the Nigeria Police; we are also developing projects in Kubwa, near the Brick City with about 350 units.

In Kaduna we have a 26 hectare project in the Millennium City, we are providing infrastructure.

Observers say Urban Shelter builds houses so close to each other, why is that?

When you make houses, you are guided by building code principles, so typically when we do our architecture plans we take it to FCT Development Control, we keep to their standards, that is what they approved. But in Abuja there is a premium on housing so land availability is a factor. But we have taken note.

How is the Lagos business environment?

Lagos is a bit difficult; their economy, their GDP is also mirroring some smaller African states, you have to take into consideration their different cultures. So tastes are different and the competition is very intense. The level of quality in terms of service delivery is higher in Lagos but we took our time, we prepared very well to ensure we are doing the right project for the right people. We have an official launching in March this year (of one of our projects). In Lagos we are the new kids on the block so we have to work harder.

Handling so many projects simultaneously, how are you able to finance them?

Finance is an interesting thing; our financial strategy differs from project to project. We have been utilizing commercial finance. We are now working on Islamic finance, which will unlock a lot of potential. It is difficult naturally but we are also trying to get international recognition and then we have internal revenue. Let me take a minute to appreciate our clients. Urban Shelter has been very fortunate; we’ve never finished a project that we have not sold out.

What are the challenges?

On the supply side, in 2015 the value of the naira really depreciated, so also cost of materials skyrocketed, those that require forex became difficult. So, we would like to source materials locally, but if I were to order 5,000 doors there are few manufacturers that can meet the time frame so such issues like capacity, steel products you have to import, meaning port issues which will affect your timeline. And getting artisans, bricklayers, tillers, carpentry, giving attention to details, these are issues. So, we are trying to develop an Artisans Institute to mentor and train individuals.

On the demand side, it’s easy to build a house, what is difficult is for you and me to buy the house. There is a limited pool in terms of the financial tools available to individuals to be able to access; and fast tracking the mortgage process so that people are able to pay, through mortgages, when we can unlock that process, that would make it easier.

The other things which government may be addressing are getting Cs of O, access to land, infrastructure which is 10-30 per cent of the cost of construction, so these are the challenges. And on regulation, REDAN has been doing a good job of not just policing but ensuring quality and sanity.

How is the company’s pricing?

We start our pricing from N3.9 million for large studio rooms, and they go up to as much as N200 million. Like I said we try to cater for everybody. We have a research and development team that tries to see how we can get prices down without compromising on quality and safety. We are determined to see that we house as many Nigerians as possible because providing shelter is a basic human right.

Family Homes Funds in talks with varsities on staff, student housing

Towards expanding campus housing, two premier universities have begun discussions with the Family Homes Fund (FHF) to explore areas of partnership in developing affordable housing for staff and students as well as hostel construction.

The universities are University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The fund is also in talks with Lagos State government and Echostone to work on the Lagos Housing project.

The Ebonyi State government has also donated land in Abakaliki to develop 1,200 homes.

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Senior officials of the organisation said it is intensifying its efforts in providing as many houses as possible for low- income Nigerians.

Through a combination of these activities, the Family Homes Fund aims to create or support up to 1,500,000 jobs by 2023 making a real difference to the quality of life of their families and the economy.

The organisation, which is the largest affordable housing focused fund in sub Saharan Africa is embarking on projects in six geo political zones and FCT.

The projects include the millennium city in Kaduna which has about 650 homes, the royal city in Kano 757 homes, in Asaba, Delta state about 620 homes, Ogun state about 1, 074 homes and FCT about 580 homes.

Already the project 1 and 2 in Grand Luvu, Nasarawa state has been completed.

Work is currently ongoing in Kaduna, where the state government donated land for the construction of 500 homes.

The Akwa Ibom state government has also donated land and signed MoU with family homes funds for the construction of 5000 low income houses.

FHF is in the process of signing a partnership agreement with iBuild-an international technology company to capture data on number of jobs created by FHFL investment

The Managing Director Family Homes Funds, Mr. Femi Adewole in an interview said: “We have a strong commitment. We have invested over N20 billion in housing projects to support Nigerians who are earning below N100, 000’’.

’We are also providing financing for developers who will build homes ranging between N2.5 million to N5 million.

“In addition, we are providing some assistance to the buyers of those houses and we are given them a deferred loan for up to 40 per cent cost of the houses’’.

Apart from facilitating the provision of low-cost housing, Family Homes Fund is creating new jobs through investments in housing projects. The fund’s approach to creating jobs is driven by three priorities:

The fund is support ongoing dialogue around development of a local contents framework for inputs into the house building process. A long-term objective is to ensure that up to 80per cent of manufactured inputs are locally produced.

He also stressed that much more can be achieved collectively, than any single player can individually. The Fund is building strong partnerships with various institutions and agencies to maximize this opportunity.

“Through the Investments made, the Fund is equipping a new generation of young Nigerians with high-level skills in modern methods of construction and technologies,” he said.

Uncertainty is never good for the property market – in any country

Brexit is a decision made by Britain to leave the European Union (EU). The main reason was related to immigration matters. However, Britain’s current Prime Minister Theresa May is facing huge obstacles carrying out what has been negotiated with the EU and the deal is supposed to be finalised by March 29 this year. Imagine what this does to the world’s top six largest economies.

Brexit has been affecting Britain’s property market negatively due to the “uncertain” future of the country.

According to an article, house prices in some of the most expensive areas in the capital have fallen by almost a quarter over Brexit.

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The demand for London homes in Kensington, Chelsea and the city of Westminster has reduced dramatically over the past year due to higher taxes and Brexit.

The average house value in the exclusive postcodes have fallen to £500,000 (RM2,665,592) until November, according to Your Move.

On average, London’s ten most expensive boroughs are down by 9%. In some upmarket areas such as Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden, it has fallen by more than 10%.

The article also quoted the recent case of a five-storey mansion in Belgrave Square, regarded as prime property, that was sold for £60 million in December even though it was initially listed at £100 million.

Are there uncertainties in the Malaysian market too? To answer “no” would mean one is not objective.

During uncertain times, people are unwilling to invest. When this reluctance to invest continues, the number of jobs created reduces and the vicious cycle continues. However, the government is doing what it can to ensure our economy is moving forward.

As of now, Malaysia continues to be rated as “Investment grade” by all international rating agencies. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said even the deficit numbers were in check for 2018 because the SST enabled the government to collect more than what they budgeted for.

As for GDP growth, the predictions are all within a range of 4.5% to 4.9%.

Source: FMT

Rising unemployment and its impacts on mortgage affordability

Nigeria has one of the highest unemployment figures in the world and, according to the Q3 2018 report on unemployment rate as compiled by Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), unemployment in Nigeria has risen from 18.8 percent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018.

The NBS, however, explained, “of the 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as at Q3 2018, 11.1 million did some form of work but for too few hours a week (under 20 hours) to be officially classified as employed while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.

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“Of the 9.7 million unemployed that did absolutely nothing as at Q3 2018, 90.1 percent of them or 8.77 million were reported to be unemployed and doing nothing because they were first time job seekers and have never worked before”.

These are frightening figures that are practically incompatible with mortgage lending in Nigeria.  Adeniyi Akinlusi, CEO, Trustbond Mortgage Bank puts it straight that, though the ability of the banks to provide money for mortgage has changed on account of credit challenges in the financial system, mortgage affordability or the fundamentals for lending have not changed.

Technically speaking, there is no mortgage of any form in Nigeria. Because of the commercial interest rate charged, mortgage lenders still anchor their loans on good jobs that attract fat monthly salary, meaning that a mortgage loan seeker is still expected to be somebody in a good job or private business with an assured, fat and regular stream of income.

It remains to be seen how impactful the uniform underwriting standard for the informal sector has been on mortgage lending and homeownership. The income of some of these informal sector operators can hardly be measured and, so, can hardly be controlled in a formal way.

As against the 6 percent interest rate and repayment tenor of between 25 and 30 years, depending on the borrower’s age, mortgage lenders in this country charge between 17 percent and 20 percent interest rate on mortgage loans with a repayment tenor as short as 12-24 months. The tenor also depends on the level of risk associated with either the loan or the borrower or both.

Because of this, the ever-widening housing demand-supply gap can easily be blamed on the commercial interest rate charged on mortgage loans which makes such loans unaffordable to home loan seekers.

The mortgage industry does not operate in isolation of the economy. Certainly as an integral part of the economy, it has to be affected by the economic crisis in the country today.  A good number of people who were in employment before now don’t have jobs again because of the downturn in the economy.

 In spite of this, mortgage operators insist that the fundamentals for lending have not changed, which means that if somebody has a good job with a financial institution or a multinational company, and the pay package is high enough for him to afford a mortgage, the economic crisis has not changed that affordability.

The past few years have seen quite a number of mortgage products aimed at enabling subscribers own their own homes, but these products are yet to help reduce existing housing gap by increasing housing stock. The reason is simple. The products, like the mortgage loans, are unaffordable by those who need them and, according to mortgage operators, those mortgage products are not the ones that will make any impact on housing.

“The mortgage products that we have today are commercial mortgages which the investor wants to recover his money from. It is just like someone else who has invested in any other venture. He has to recover his money because he borrows from the same place like you”, an operator who did not want to be named, noted.

Mortgage products can make impact on housing only when there is government intervention and, anywhere else in the world, there is government intervention to make mortgage affordable to everybody, no matter the income level.

As obtains  in other societies, mortgage could be used to move the economy from being import-dependent to a producing and exporting country and Akinlusi says mortgage institutions need long term loans for housing finance. When there are enough funds to lend to property developers and to home seekers, the entire economy will be stimulated.

By the time there are enough funds in the hands of mortgage institutions for long term loans to property developers, there will be a lot of property construction activities and when these happen, a lot of other activities will be generated and the economy will be better for it.

Engineers, architects, bricklayers, casual labourers and even food vendors will be automatically engaged by a single development in one corner of the city, and it is unimaginable what is possible when there are many of such developments going on at various parts of the country. The long term effect is the development of industries and factories that produce building materials such as cement, rods, roofing materials, wooden materials etc.

Ultimately, this will impact on the wider economy and your guess is as good as mine as to what follows when people have enough capital at their disposal. Definitely, investment is the next line of thought and, depending on the prevailing business environment and government policies, people will invest in many asset classes including real estate which in turn will anything including motor manufacturing.

What are Habitat houses like around the world?

From the tropical islands of the Philippines to the mountains of Chile, Habitat builds houses designed for the local setting. Habitat builds with locally available materials by country, reducing costs and making it easier for homeowners to maintain the houses. For example, houses in many African countries are constructed with fired clay bricks and tile roofs made of cement or fired clay. Houses in Latin America often are built with concrete block or adobe walls and metal roofs. Houses in the Pacific are often built with wood frames and are constructed on stilts.

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People of different countries use their houses in different ways. Habitat’s house designs reflect these cultural considerations. Meals are cooked outdoors in many African countries; there, Habitat plans call for a kitchen area outside of the house. In the Philippines, laundry and other chores traditionally are done on a small outdoor utility porch, so Filipino Habitat house designs reflect this custom.

No matter where they are built, Habitat house sizes always are designed to meet the homeowner families’ needs while keeping costs as low and affordable as possible for low-income families.

Sri Lanka

Some areas build with 6 inch hollow concrete blocks with steel rods to help the structure resist earthquakes, plus micro concrete roof tiles. In other places, houses are built with dry stacked interlocking compressed earth blocks on a stone rubble foundation with corrugated roofing sheets. A lime wash on the blocks offers weather resistance. The house design includes a cooking area, gable roof and pour flush toilet.

India

Meals and socializing occur on the porch. Houses are built of fired bricks for walls and steel-reinforced concrete roof slabs. Some houses are made with hollow-core concrete blocks and tile roofs.

Romania

The traditional block construction in Romania takes at least a year to build, but wood frame construction is quicker and more energy efficient. Stucco protects the house walls from weathering and locally made clay tiles finish the roof.

Guatemala

Houses made of hollow concrete blocks and steel rods are designed to resist earthquakes. The window coverings and doors can be made of wood; however, metal is used in some areas where wood is more expensive.

Zambia

The average Habitat Zambia house is constructed with burnt brick walls and corrugated iron roofing, replacing the less sturdy mud, wattle and grass thatch construction seen throughout much of the country. The end result is a two- or three-bedroom home with separate sleeping, cooking and living areas. Houses are designed so that homeowners have the option to expand the house as needed.

Election is peaceful in Abuja

Foreign observers deployed to monitor elections in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, have expressed satisfaction with the process of accreditation and voting.

They also said the election is so far peaceful in Abuja and urged all stakeholders to ensure that the election is also peaceful in other parts of the country.

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An Observer from Sierra-Leone, Madam Fatima Sawani, who spoke with our correspondent on behalf of her counterparts from other countries at the Aso Drive polling unit in Abuja, however, observed that the voters needed to be educated more on voting and folding of the ballot papers.

She also expressed displeasure over low turnout of political parties’ agents at the polling units saying it was a bad omen for democracy.

“So far, the process is going on smoothly in Abuja and we want the election to be peaceful in other parts of the country as well.
“We are satisfied with the process so far, but my observation is that voters should be thought more on how to fold ballot papers,” she said.

Foreigners without work permits will be deported- Fashola

To prevent expatriates from picking jobs meant for Nigerians, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said those working without permits would not only be stopped in the coming days, but also deported.

According to him, companies handling contracts for his ministry are being audited for legality.

Speaking yesterday at the second BRF Gabest programme, with the theme, Where are the jobs?, Fashola noted that though the citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had free movement into the country, he, however, clarified that the privilege does not preclude them from applying for work permits.

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The erstwhile Lagos State governor stated that Nigeria must manage its population.

He urged family planning in the face of the widespread poverty in the land.

Fashola submitted that wrong choices and decisions of the past were responsible for the nation’s under-development and its inability to compete favourably with its peers.

Giving an insight into the jobs to be created from infrastructure, he disclosed that the Federal Government would need about 192 million litres of petroleum products to complete the second Niger Bridge.

He added that government would also need 18 millions bags of cement for the Mambila hydro project to provide several opportunities for Nigerians.

In the meantime, government has assured Nigerians deported recently by the Ghanaian authorities that they would not be made to suffer for crimes they did not commit.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave the assurance yesterday while reacting to the development.

She said the Nigerian ambassador in that West African nation, Ambassador Olufemi Abikoye, was on top of the situation, assuring them that the matter would soon be resolved.

The presidential aide said: “The story that hundreds of Nigerians being deported from Ghana is disturbing and worrisome. The good thing is that the Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana is on top of the situation. Now, he met with the Comptroller General of the Immigration in Ghana and they both had a very productive discussion.”

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