Affordable housing tops agenda as homes expo kicks off

Discussions on affordable housing are expected to dominate proceedings during the 27th Kenya Homes Expo, which begins today. Exhibitors, drawn from real estate, finance, interior decor and design, building and construction sectors will showcase their products at the four-day event at the at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. 

The homes exhibition, that has been running since 2005, is officially known as the Blue Triangle Cement Kenya Homes Expo. Organizers say more than 40,000 people have attended the expo since its inception 13 years ago. This year’s theme is ‘Homes for All’, which is in line with the government’s agenda of affordable housing for all. Affordable housing is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four projects, which will see the government build one million affordable housing units over the next five years.

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The expo’s founder and managing director Daniel Ojijo said affordable housing can only be realized when the government partners with private developers, and through the use of alternative building technologies.

Partnerships “In synergy with the built industry and being a platform that promotes innovation, the governments and the private developer should form a partnership in the development of affordable houses for Kenyans.

 

This will embrace development of affordable housing by reducing housing costs and supply alternative technology to potential home owners,” Ojijo said. Both local and international exhibitors will take part. Among the notable exhibitors on the list is DecoMagna Limited, Mhasibu Sacco, Vipingo Developers, Epic Properties, Rama Homes, Home & Hospitality, and Cytonn Investments. Other than showcasing homes, the expo has expanded it is wings to host related concepts for the real estate market. “Nairobi is fast rising as the investment destination of Africa and investors have taken great interest in the country.

Kenya is the gateway to other East African markets and an economic powerhouse in Africa,” said Ojijo. East African Portland Cement Company, manufacturers of Blue Triangle Cement, are sponsoring the expo for the sixth year running. The Expo will run up to Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

Federal Mortgage Bank, Labour, others roll out low-cost houses for workers

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has begun construction of the pilot phase of a low-cost housing programme for civil servants nationwide.

The Nasarawa State housing site is the first of 14 locations under the pilot phase of the programme initiated in collaboration with the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (NUC), and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA).

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FMBN, Ahmed Dangiwa, who performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the scheme on Wednesday said it will deliver 1,400 housing units nationwide.

Mr Dangiwa said about 200 units will be constructed in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country, in addition to extras in Lagos and Abuja.

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The programme, which goes by the theme: “National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme for Nigerian Workers,” holds huge prospects to significantly help redress housing deficit in the country currently put at about 22 million.

The managing director said the housing programme is a product of a partnership between FMBN and the labour unions, aimed at building and delivering decent, safe and quality houses for Nigerian workers at prices they can afford.

In line with this goal, he said house types planned for construction under the programme would be based on proven social housing models comprising one, two and three-bedroom units with prices ranging between N3.1million and N8.3 million.

The groundbreaking ceremony was at a location provided by the Nassarawa State government along the new Kwandare, Keffi Road, Lafia.

The land was provided as part of government’s counterpart contribution to ensure the success of the project.

At least about 100 housing units are to be delivered in the state within a six-month construction time frame.

“The launch of the National Housing Delivery Programme is a momentous development,” Mr Dangiwa said.

“It marks the first time FMBN and the labour unions have worked closely with experts and industry stakeholders to develop a realistic and acceptable framework for delivering affordable housing to Nigerian workers.

He noted the collaborative spirit the programme has fostered, saying it has given room for labour leaders, who understand the realities and financial challenges Nigerian workers face, to make constructive inputs to the housing designs, pricing range and other relevant conditions for delivering the project.

The FMBN boss said the involvement and contributions of various interest groups to the project design would make the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme a fit-for-purpose tool to deliver affordable houses to workers.

He said the project is a significant departure from earlier failed social housing projects, which were executed without taking adequate cognizance of the concerns and economic realities of the Nigerian workers.

Also speaking at the event, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, commended the FMBN for initiating and driving the partnership, noting that the project will touch the lives of many Nigerians.

He urged the State government to ensure that the land it provided was at zero cost for the state workers.

The Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Al-Makura, expressed delight at the takeoff of the project and thanked FMBN and the Labour unions for choosing the state as the first location for the pilot.

The governor commended FMBN for the initiative and expressed the commitment of the state government to its success.

Besides, the governor said his administration granted FMBN’s request for an additional five hectares of land for the provision of relevant facilities as well as speedy facilitation of electricity supply to the estate.

Under the terms of the programme, the FMBN would provide low-interest housing loans to registered contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) to enable them to purchase the houses.

Eligible workers whose loan requirements fall below N5 million will not be expected to pay any equity contribution to access the facility.

Those requiring between N5 million and N15 million would have to provide only 10 percent equity contribution, instead of the old requirement regime of 20 and 30 percent.

The FMBN spokesperson, Zubaida Umar, explained the housing loans have a convenient payment plan with tenors of up 30 years, depending on the age of the beneficiaries and years in service.

Other states and locations scheduled for groundbreaking for the project include Kogi, Enugu, Abia and Akwa Ibom for October 11, 15, 16 and 18 respectively.

Source: Premium Times

Housing, welfare and childcare dominate Budget 2019 Q&A

 

Housing, welfare and childcare were the main issues preoccupying Irish Times readers after Budget 2019 when they contacted our post-budget online Q&A. But it wasn’t to the exclusion of a wide range of topics, with strong reader interest despite the absence of surprises in the Minister’s budget speech.

Readers were trying to get a fix on how the various housing measures announced in the budget would affect property prices in or rental rates in general, or on their prospects for being able to buy a home.

The €310 million affordable housing scheme drew particular attention though it is not likely to deliver any homes until 2020 at the earliest.

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From the other side of the debate, landlords were checking on how the new mortgage interest arrangements would work, and whether there were any other incentives to encourage private sector housing supply. There were none.

People on different welfare payments, or pro rata payments, wanted to make sure that that the €5 weekly increase from March applied to them. And they also welcomed the full restoration of the Christmas bonus.

A change to the Working Family Payment (formerly family income supplement)that disregards some of the cost of housing form the weekly income threshold should be good news for around 5,500 families.

Childcare, as always, was a strong theme among the questions, with many people trying to figure out how the additional funding would be allocated and whether it was relevant to them. Many of the answers were expected from Minister Katherine Zappone who was holding a lunchtime briefing on the subject.

The decision to extend the zero rating for electric vehicles for three years was noted but there was some concern at the introduction of a €50,000 cap on the price of new cars qualifying. It means that environmentally focused business executives will face benefit-in-kind on any garage value of their company car above that threshold.

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Students
Third-level students were left wondering if they had been forgotten altogether with no specific measures put in place to make their lives easier, or studying more affordable.

Others were looking for details of any funding for colleges themselves or for back to education programmes. Both will benefit form increased Department of Education funding but the details are still unclear.

There was plenty of interest from current and former public servants about pay and pensions but neither was addressed in the budget. The Government and public service unions already agreed in late 2017 a path to full pay restoration by 2021 and whoever holds the position of minister for public expenditure on December 31st, 2020, will have to give a date at that stage for when the pension reduction will be fully unravelled.

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State pension reform also featured though, again, that was not a matter for the budget, with Minister for Employment and Social Affairs Regina Doherty preparing separately to get in touch by the end of the month with 67,000 pensioners.

Some readers were asking about the fate of some of the measures that were the subject of intensive kite-flying ahead of the budget, only to be markedly absent from the Minister’s speech. They could still feature in the Finance Bill but we’ll have to wait till its publication next week to see if that is so.

And then there were the smokers, fulminating about the latest 50 cent increase in the price of cigarettes and wondering what the Government will do when it has taxed them into giving up tobacco. With one in five people still smoking, that’s unlikely to be an immediate concern for the Minister.

Dominic Coyle

Hong Kong plans artificial islands for housing

 

Chief Exec Lam unveils plan to rein in home prices with 1,700ha of new land

HONG KONG — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who runs one of the world’s most expensive cities, has rolled out a plan to build 1,700 hectares of artificial islands, in an effort to tackle acute housing shortage.

In her second policy address on Wednesday, Lam said the proposed land reclamation, near Hong Kong International Airport, will be home to 260,000 to 400,000 apartments in the next three decades, of which 70% will be used for public housing.

“The shortage of land supply not only leads to a shortage of housing supply, but also affects people’s quality of life,” Lam said in her address to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

She said land is “strictly necessary” in providing health care services and basic education, as well as in maintaining traditional trades and promoting new economy industries.

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Lam expects the first phase of residential units on the artificial islands to be put on the market in 2032, and other relevant development plans in the area could take 20 to 30 years to realize.

For short- to medium-term solutions, Lam proposed renovating industrial buildings, as well as using greenfield and private farmland in the New Territories for housing.

Housing has been a thorny issue for any Hong Kong chief executive in the past decade, with the city routinely topping the list of the world’s most expensive housing markets. Less than half of all households own their own homes and even skilled workers on average need to work 22 years each to buy a 60-sq.-meter apartment, up from 12 years a decade ago, according to a UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index in 2018.

The shortage of land supply is often cited as the primary reason for runaway housing prices, which have more than quintupled since 2003. The Hong Kong government estimates a 1,200-hectare shortfall of land for housing over the next 30 years.

While the goal of the government initiative is to bring down sky-high property prices and make homes more affordable, the market itself appears to be cooling recently in part due to interest rate hikes and worries about economic growth as a result of the trade war between China and the U.S. Analysts expect up to a 15% drop in home prices over the next 12 months.

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But Lam made clear on Wednesday that market weakness will not change her mind about adding land supply over the longer term.

“The determination of the government to identify and produce land and build a land reserve should never waver in face of short-term changes in the economic environment or fluctuations in property prices,” she said.

Joseph Tsang, managing director at JLL, said in a note that the plan for building artificial islands is “on the right track” to tackle the issue. He also said, “The government should rethink its immigration and population planning policies,” because the inflow of immigrants will keep pressure on demand for public housing.

Marcos Chan, head of research at CBRE Hong Kong, Southern China & Taiwan, praised the plan as “the most prominent vision among all the housing and land supply initiatives unveiled in the policy address.” But he also said, “The fact that the vision can only be realized in the next two to three decades implies that the shortage in office supply will not ease anytime soon.”

Some lawmakers and activists oppose the idea of creating artificial islands, citing concerns about the negative environmental impact, massive government bill to build them and potential risk of flooding.

“The construction of such big artificial islands is hugely expensive and exceeds the actual need of Hong Kong population growth,” said lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, pointing to the fact that the proposed area for reclamation is 70% bigger than the government’s previous plan.

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He said it was also extremely challenging to build stand-alone artificial islands — as opposed to extending the shoreline — which will face greater flood risks due to rapid climate change. Save Lantau Alliance, an activist group founded in 2014, also raised concerns over environmental issues.

Convener Eddie Tse Sei-kit said the proposed development plan involves massive sand relocation and the new buildings on the artificial islands would create effectively a wall along the North Lantau shoreline. This will affect current water flow and be damaging to marine life.

Despite the opposition, Lam said such voices are “groundless.”

“I urge those who oppose the land reclamations to take Hong Kong’s best interest into consideration,” she said.

NIKKI SUN

A Blueprint for Low-Income Homes Goes Green In the Philippines

 

Luzviminda Capin, a housewife in the Philippines, never got used to the high utility bills for the small home she rented for much of her adult life. “I would be shocked to see my electricity bill. It never fell below 2,500 (Philippine Pesos, or about $50) a month,” she recalls. That was higher than what she paid for water, cable, and Internet combined.

For Luzviminda Capin, solar energy means more money for groceries.

Capin was far from being the only one suffering from the high cost of electricity: the Philippines has one of the highest household and commercial electricity rates in Southeast Asia, fueled by its dependence on expensive, imported fuel.

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But that’s changing as energy-efficient communities like Via Verde Homes, developed by Imperial Homes Corporation (IHC), gain ground in the housing market. IHC is the first developer to receive IFC’s EDGE green building certification in the Philippines for two of its Via Verde communities.

IFC created EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) to identify sustainable practices and solutions in construction, increase efficiency in the use of resources, and reduce impacts on the environment. Compared to conventionally built houses, Via Verde houses consume about 40 percent less energy, 25 percent less water, and up to 38 percent less energy in the making of building materials. Via Verde homes that run on solar power, like Capin’s, eliminate 1,200 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year—the equivalent of taking a vehicle off the streets for a period of three months.

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Appealing to Lower-Income Homeowners
IHC’s Via Verde is unusual because solar-powered homes are typically seen as a high-end market. By contrast, Via Verde built the country’s first grid-connected, solar-powered community of low-cost houses. Every house in Via Verde has a built-in 500-watt rooftop solar panel with a battery that powers basic household utilities during the day and stores energy for use at night.

This is helpful to Capin, who uses solar power to cook, watch TV, and wash clothes during the day. The lights and two electric fans can be turned on at the same time—which was not possible in her traditionally powered home.

IHC has been building homes for the middle- and lower-income market for the last 30 years. The company first went into business to provide solutions to the Philippines’ acute housing shortage—currently estimated by the government at almost 4 million. To meet growing demand, 6.2 million houses will have to be built by 2034.

By using EDGE as a guide for green building principles, IHC made additional design decisions compatible with Via Verde’s solar power features, including the use of raw materials to minimize the homes’ carbon footprint.

When Blueprints Go Green
EDGE, an innovation of IFC, has helped companies in nearly 140 countries design and construct green buildings. IHC began using EDGE in 2014 to create its Via Verde homes. The company recorded a 300 percent increase in sales after Via Verde was launched, in 2015.

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As IHC becomes known as a property developer that advocates sustainable urban development, it is gaining international attention: The company was awarded the prestigious ASEAN Business Award for Green Technology in late 2017. Within the Philippines, its 1,000 units of Via Verde row houses and two-story townhomes are sold out. It is building more communities that low- and middle-income Filipinos can afford in Greater Metro Manila. These will also offer 24-hour solar power and energy-efficient features.

For Capin, the money she saves is just a part of the overall relief she feels since moving into Via Verde. “My monthly electricity bill has gone down to only 500 (Philippine Pesos, or about $10). I use the extra savings of 2,000 (Philippine Pesos) to either buy food and groceries, or to pay off the mortgage on the house,” she says. “As long as we live here, even if electricity rates go up 10 years from now, our monthly costs will be at a minimum because of solar.”

EDGE

Push for more affordable housing

 

State governments have until the end of October to inform the federal government of vacant land suitable for affordable housing developments.

“This is about national interest. To put it simply, if states don’t give land, we won’t be able to build affordable houses for them,” Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said.

“I have received good response from the states. They are coming up with a list of land available, so that they don’t miss out having affordable housing built by the government in their states,” he said when asked if state governments were cooperating in giving away their land.

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Out of the 127 ongoing government affordable housing projects, Zuraida noted that only 27 were being built on land supplied by states.

“The rest are private land, which in a way causes the houses to be expensive.

“That is why a policy is in place where the state governments have to give land to the federal government to build affordable housing.

“If we can lower the land cost, we will be able to reduce the price of the houses to benefit the people,” she added.

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Under the new housing policy that will be unveiled later, Zuraida said the government would subsidise the development of affordable housing units and rent them out to deserving citizens.

“This will help strengthen the rental market in the city. Under this Rent to Own scheme, there will be a review of income every five years,” she said after attending an industry-government open dialogue by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute here yesterday.

On a separate matter, Zuraida said five housing agencies would be consolidated to form a single entity known as the National Affordable Housing Council, which will coordinate the development of such homes nationwide.

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“The council will be directly under the Housing (and Local Government) Ministry and chaired by our prime minister,” she added.

The five agencies are Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd, 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Programme, Uda Holdings Bhd, People’s Housing Projects and 1Malaysia People’s Housing Scheme.

Allison Lai

Low-income earners can’t afford govt housing units – NIQS

 

Stakeholders at a seminar organised by the Ogun State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors have chided the federal and state governments for constructing housing units only for the rich.

The seminar held in Abeokuta and had as its theme: ‘Effective housing delivery in a developing economy.’

The President, NIQS, Obafemi Onashile, noted that there was the need for the government to evolve an effective housing policy, which would guarantee more affordable houses to the low-income earners and the masses.

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Onashile, who was represented by the Vice-President of the institute, Mr Olayemi Sonubi, said Nigeria, with a growing economy, needed more affordable housing units.

He noted that the government’s housing policy had failed because there was no systematic plan to build houses, adding, however, that it was not enough to build houses that the low-income earners might not afford.

He called on the government to bring the interest rates on mortgage loans to one digit, because according to him, a two-digit mortgage loan regime would take a long time to pay back.

Onashile added, “Mortgage loans should not attract more than five or six per cent interest, having such loans at 19 per cent is quite high.

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“There is the need for the government at the state and federal levels to build affordable housing units that low-income earners can afford.”

In his keynote address, a former General Manager, Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation, TundeAwolana, an engineer, said not many low-income earners could afford the housing units being built by the government and private developers.

He stated, “Housing corporations are building prohibitive housing units, which can only be afforded by criminally-minded people.

 

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“They are supposed to build housing units for low and medium-income earners. Some wealthy Nigerians are also building big houses their children may not like to inherit.”

Awolana called on professional in the built environment to rise up to the occasion in tackling the challenge of housing deficit in the country.

The Ogun State Chairman, NIQS, Mr Kayode Dipeolu, said the workshop was aimed at examining the effective delivery of housing units in the country.

Samuel Awoyinfa

Dilemma Of Affordability in Nigeria’s Housing Policies

 

CHIKA OKEKE examines the housing policies initiated by the previous and current administrations and writes on the need for feasible policies to trim the housing deficit.

Nigeria with over 180 million population is experiencing a rough battle in addressing the current housing deficit pegged at over 17 million units. This is even as the country has been challenged in the provision of mass and affordable housing for the informal sector, civil servants and low income earners who constitute over 80 percent of the population.

Findings highlighted that one of the major housing policies that were initiated during Shehu Shagari administration in 1979 failed to meet the housing needs of Nigerians due to absence of designs that captured diverse cultural delineation. Recall that when the national technical working committee under the housing thematic area of the Vision 20:2020 was inaugurated on 18th April, 2009, they were asked to make recommendation towards the contribution of housing to Vision 20:2020 goal of the federal government.

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Part of the vision was to make housing available to all Nigerians by the Year 2020 and also make the housing sector one of the top three contributors to the nation’s economy by adding 10 million decent and affordable homes to the national housing stock by the year 2020.

The overall target for the sector was to contribute to Nigeria’s quest to achieve a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $900 billion with an annual growth of 15 percent by 2020. The thematic area chaired by Mr Stephen Mayaki suggested that for Nigeria to meet up with its housing needs by the year 2020, the federal government must provide the legal and regulatory environment that would attract Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Also, to work with financial sector operators and regulators to develop an effective primary housing finance system, reduce the cost of houses by developing and promoting appropriate designs production technologies for the sector and among others. However in 2000, the then federal government promised to provide housing for all Nigerians, with the acronym, Housing for All by Year 2000 which also failed to yield positive result.

The 2012 national housing policy, aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians failed woefully as the current housing deficit still stands at between 17 to 20 million units. With the election of APC- led administration in 2015, the federal government promised to embark on a National Housing Programme (NHP) across the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) The pilot project is ongoing in 34 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the exemption of Lagos and Rivers states whose governors failed to donate land for the project, though the monies spent on the project so far is still shrouded in secrecy.

Experts are however kicking against the current housing policy, which they believe might not address the bogus housing deficit. The former president of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Tpl. Steve Onu disclosed that affordable housing in a private sector driven environment would not be achieved without subsidy.

He said that Nigerians should not be deceived considering that the modus operandi of affordable housing in other countries is incomparable with the current housing programmes in the country. Onu linked the success story of Singapore to the election of a strong leader that has vision and political will, adding that the country has well structured institution to implement government policies and programmes.

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He noted since the previous government in Nigeria drafted a national housing policy since 2012, that the incumbent minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola was supposed to have studied the policy and compelled relevant agencies to come up with action plans for the achievement of the sectoral goals instead of embarking on a pilot project for a NHP that might not address the housing challenges.

Onu stated that though Singaporean government has private developers that the Housing & Development Board (HDB) is busy building houses for a target group noting that the houses are allocated based on need and not sold in the open market as done in Nigeria. HDB is the statutory board of the ministry of national development responsible for public housing in Singapore.

The expert emphasised that no individual owns more than one public housing in Singapore even as he regretted that Nigeria could hardly make progress since the president or governors do not believe in rule of law. In his contribution, the former managing director of Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Prof Mustapha Zubairu lamented that Nigeria is yet to develop a viable housing delivery system despite the existence of national housing policy and urban development policies since 2012, stating that the two policies are gathering dust on the shelves of the federal and state governments.

The expert stated that government focused on building houses alone while neglecting other important components of large-scale housing development like land, finance, infrastructure, building materials and labour. According to him, “Nigeria needs a marshal plan that will enable the country address the huge urban infrastructure deficit in virtually all the cities and towns; and to institutionalise an integrated development planning that will enable us develop sustainable mechanism for financing, managing and governance of our cities and towns”.

This he believed would alleviate endemic urban poverty; enhance affordability of housing especially among the poor and low-income families; ameliorate climate change and contribute in restructuring of towns and cities when implemented. He asserted that 95 percent of Singapore’s 5.5 million population owned their houses while 4.5 percent live in rented accommodation provided by the government since their income is below US$12.000 per annum. Zubairu hinted that the feat was achieved through the HDB irrespective of the fact that Singapore is a one-city country occupying 741square kilometres of land. He wondered if Nigeria has the political will, knowledge, skills and commitment to change the current housing quagmire, stressing that effective housing delivery system could be the catalyst to boost our image abroad.

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The former managing director further attributed Singapore’s successes to a transparent Information and Communications Technology (ICT)- based system that facilitated equal access to one housing project at a time to its three ethnic nationalities, which he described as his dream for Nigeria. Lending his voice, a developer, Arc Adewunmi Towolawi Okupe noted that if the cost of houses are moderate and targeted towards particular income group that affordable housing would be achievable.

He stated that a tenant who lived in a rented apartment for over 20 years must have paid more than enough to build the house. Okupe pointed out that one of the company’s concept is to design houses for a particular income group and structure monthly repayment of not more than one third of their monthly income, which he believed would make the houses affordable for the group. Giving a breakdown on N100 billion housing intervention fund, he emphasised that 967 units of housing could be built annually with subscribers monthly payment .

He asserted that a minimum of 45, 000 three bedrooms houses could be built with N100 billion at the cost of N6 million each. Okupe maintained that the fund could be set on autopilot to produce 5000 three bedroom houses yearly after the initial 16,667 three bedroom houses or more if the fund would be used for the construction of one and two bedroom houses for low income earners.

Chika Okeke

AUHF to Set the Stage for Affordable Housing in Africa

 

The opportunity for African countries in supporting the growth and development of their affordable housing industries is immense and transformative

The 34th African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) conference (www.AUHFConcerence.com) and Annual General Meeting will take place for the first time in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire between 23 & 25 October 2018.

This year’s theme: Building Africa’s Housing Financing Chain will be unpacked by the leading figures from Africa in one of the primary economies of the continent’s fastest growing economic regions – the West Africa Monetary Union (UEMOA).

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While the conference will provide stakeholders with an opportunity to examine the unique regional context, the three-day conference and AGM is pan-African in focus with more than 61-member institutions and several key partners from across the continent coming together to address the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s housing finance chain.

 

Key Partners

This year’s partners include: The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and Caisse Regional de Refinacement Hypethecaire (CRRH).

Providing affordable housing opportunities to Africa’s rapidly urbanising population is a major policy driver for African governments and an opportunity for both local and international investors and developers. Recent estimates by the World Bank suggest that more than 1 billion people will live in African cities by 2040, more than double the current urban population on the continent. The capacity of Africa’s cities to respond to this challenge, and to turn the demand for affordable housing into an opportunity for stimulating local economic growth and development, is critically dependent on an efficient flow of finance.

African Growth

It’s against this rapidly urbanising landscape that this year’s AUHF conference will explore the key links in the housing financing chain: the finance instruments that support each link in the housing delivery chain, and the funding instruments that make these possible.

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Mortgage Lending

As the conference takes place in a leading regional economy, Cote D’Ivoire, and hub for the West Africa Monetary Union (UEMOA), one of the three-day conference’s focal points is Building UEMOA’s housing finance sector. Mortgage lending is a key issue, and Director General of the UEMOA mortgage refinance institution, the Caisse Regionale de Refinnacement Hypothécaire de l’UEMOA Christian Agossa will deliver a keynote address on this key focus area.

According to Mr. Agossa, mortgage lending products need to be well-targeted to the demand side; however, adjustments to product design, including mechanisms to underwrite informal incomes, savings-linked and micro-mortgage products, and pension-backed lending will expand the potential market for mortgage lending dramatically in affordable housing.

The affordable housing challenge promise to be a significant driver of economic activity, says one of the key stakeholders of this year’s summit, the executive director for the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance’s (CAHF) Kecia Rust.

The Economic Opportunity

On an annual basis, CAHF analyses the most affordable homes which are being built on the continent. In Nigeria, Millard Fuller has developed a starter house for a total cost of $7,500. If this were available for purchase with a mortgage across the continent, the potential effective demand would translate to about 52 million houses. A simple “back of the envelope” calculation suggests that this could generate $400 Billion in economic activity just with the construction of the housing units and related infrastructure and provide more than 1.3 million jobs in the construction sector alone. The opportunity for African countries in supporting the growth and development of their affordable housing industries is immense and transformative.

Investors are clearly interested. Although still relatively small in relation to the potential opportunity, investment in residential real estate and in affordable housing in particular, is growing. Reports of targeted, local investments are increasingly finding their way into the local media, and many of these stories will be shared at the conference. Development Finance Institutions, as well as international and local investors all working towards maximising the impact investment potential that the numbers suggest. The 34th Annual AUHF conference will give them a platform for the growing number of affordable housing stakeholders to accelerate their conversation.

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Policy Drivers

This interest is encouraging to policy makers, and many are responding with supportive rhetoric and explicit programmes. President Kenyatta’s commitment to see the construction of half a million affordable homes in Kenya is one example; governments in Nigeria, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, South Africa, and others have all expressed a commitment to affordable housing in the past year. Rust makes the point “Governments have a critical role to play in land assembly and the awarding of development rights that support affordability; infrastructure investment must accommodate the expected densities and should ultimately be funded over a longer time frame than the housing itself. The capacity of developers to deliver truly affordable housing at scale is another issue that will require policy support and private sector construction financing. And then there is the question of end user financing, the cost of capital, and the trust lenders have in the underlying security. These are all policy and regulatory issues on which the government will need to focus – beyond simply visioning a magic number.”

Top Thought Leaders

With more than 200 delegates and stakeholders travelling to the summit in October, some of the confirmed regional speakers include Mr Christian Agossa, Directeur Général at Caisse Régionale de Refinancement Hypothécaire de l’UEMOA, Mr. Stefan Nallemtaby, Director Financial Sector Development Department African Development Bank, the Chief Executive of the Federal Bank of Nigeria Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, Kehinde Ogundimu, acting chief executive officer of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company – the summit is a strategic platform for the continent’s affordable housing financing thought leaders to build a more robust housing finance value chain.

As Mr. Nalletamby of the African Development bank stated, “We will have a robust discussion on the affordable housing value chain and Abidjan, as one of Africa’s high growth economies is the perfect host city for this conference and AGM”.

Proshare

Dearth Of Long Term Finance As Impediment To Affordable Housing

 

Chika Okeke writes that the highly-touted provision of affordable housing for Nigerians would be decimated without government resolving issues bothering on access to construction finance.

The construction and building sectors are crucial to the growth of any economy whether in developed or developing countries. While the housing sector in the United States contributed 36 per cent to their gross domestic product (GDP), South Africa had 30 per cent but in Nigeria, it is five per cent.

This is because, Nigeria’s built sector is confronted with enormous pitfalls such as unskilled manpower, difficulties in land acquisition, incessant building collapse due to use of substandard materials, delay in governor’s consent, absence of long term finance, bogus interest rate and among others. These problems are believed to have ignited the over 17 million housing deficit, over- bloated cost of rents, increased slum settlements, use of crude materials s in construction and building, completed and vacant buildings across the major cities in Nigeria.

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Findings revealed that there is no bank in Nigeria that loans on single digit interest rate and since most estates are being funded by commercial banks, the provision of affordable housing would remain a myth. It was also discovered that commercial banks or some Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) affiliated to commercial banks loans at 20 to 25 double digit interest rate to estate developers.

Added to this is that intervention funds extended to other sectors of the economy is absent in the housing sector. This is why low income earners who constitute over 80 per cent of the workforce may face severe battles owning homes in the country. Given that access to finance and flexible interest rate are key towards the sustenance of the built sector, experts have suggested that government should provide counterpart funding for the housing sector.

The Chairman, fellows’ forum of Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Mr. Ifeanyi Anago hinted that previous government had established the Mortgage Refinance Company of Nigeria (NMRC) whose job is to refinance mortgage to enable estate developers who have estates under construction to access funds to finance the estates. He informed that if NMRC is properly articulated and implemented that they would soon boost the mortgage market in Nigeria, stressing that active construction industry is the greatest weapon to crash poverty and create employment especially in the housing sector.

Explaining on how the built industry would boost employment, he noted that anybody building a typical house would at least employ 10 persons like the carpenters, masons, tillers, painters, welders, labourers and among others. According to him, if government decides to construct 10,000 housing units in a given time, multiply it by six which is 60,000 direct employments, you will find out that our cry concerning unemployment especially among the youths will be greatly minimized if we have articulated programmes of sustainable housing expansion.

Anago who is also the principal partner of Ifeanyi Anago & Partners regretted that the built industry contributed between 3 to 5 per cent to the countrys GDP despite its versatility stressing that the only way to capture its contributions was to integrate the industry into the formal market. He described the built industry as the ground wealth of any developed economy since it contributed higher to their GDP saying that since Nigeria is under-developed that most of the construction market is in the informal sector.

Anago pointed out that when Nigeria’s economy was rebased that we took over from South Africa because the economists captured markets that were sidelined in the informal sector adding that construction sector is the only industry that increases wealth without deprecating.

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In his contribution, vice president of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Dr. Aliyu Oroji Wamako lamented the pitfalls in accessing construction finance adding that it was impossible for developers to obtain loans from commercial banks at 28 per cent interest rate and provide affordable housing. He noted that any developer that collected loan from commercial banks would end up enslaving for the banks, saying that since federal government is interested in providing homes for low and middle income earners that the objective would be defeated if the price tag on the houses are high.

Wamako pleaded with all levels of government to provide counterpart funding in order to reposition the built industry and reduce the housing deficit, stressing the need for federal government to eliminate hitches associated with land acquisition.

He suggested that the counterpart funding should be made available to Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) that earlier provided the funds at 10 percent interest rate for onward distribution to developers.
According to him, “If 1,000 people are contributing N5,000 in one year, they will only contribute N60 million and there is no thee-bedroom house that is sold below N8m to N10m, so it is impossible for FMBN to provide mortgage for four million people when contributions from the NHF contributors are like peanuts?” This he said is one of the major reason he is appealing to the federal government to streamline the idea of housing provision, cut down bureaucracies involved in accessing mortgages and re-organise the mortgage procedures in Nigeria to avoid wasted efforts.

Wamako pointed out that the provision of infrastructure in satellite towns could also attract foreign investors in the country. He said that once a housing layout is carved out by either federal, state or local government that there should be an existing infrastructure on the layout which is supposed to be provided by government and not private developers. Wamako wondered why residents of Lugbe, Gwagwalada, Bwari or Kuje cannot enjoy the same level of infrastructure available in Asokoro, Maitama and Wuse 2.

A developer who spoke on condition of anonymous appealed to the bank to consider lifting ban on the suspension of Estate Development Loan (EDL) saying that FMBN is the only institution that issues such loans at a flexible interest rate. He noted that some developers’ excesses shouldn’t be visited on others who collected the same loan and paid back as agreed by the institution.

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) created the Estate Development Loan (EDL) and rent-to-own scheme to bridge the housing gap. The EDL is granted at 10 percent interest rate with a maximum repayment period of 24 months to private developers, state housing corporations and housing cooperatives even as houses produced through the EDL window is not expected to exceed N15 million in price and must be sold only to National Housing Fund (NHF) contributors.

However, the EDL was suspended since 2012 due to a backlog of loan defaults by developers and mortgage bankers, amounting to over N100 billion. Currently, the bank in partnership with Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) are working towards the recovery of FMBN non-performing loans. The managing director of FMBN,

Arc. Ahmed Dangiwa confirmed that the suspended Estate Development Loans (EDL) window is still opened to state- owned housing corporations that are developing houses for workers and contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme.

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Dangiwa maintained that FMBN has always enjoyed mutually beneficial relationship with about 29 member organisations of AHCN which led to the approval of EDLs to build 10, 000 housing units nationwide. He listed the challenges related to housing corporations as state governments failure to provide infrastructure as promised, delays in packaging NHF mortgage loans to off-takers and delays in mortgage perfection due to non-issuance of title documents and governor’s consent.

To resolve the challenges of non-performing EDLs, Dangiwa stated that Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and FMBN formed a joint committee with Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN) to propose exit strategies.

He solicited for greater collaboration with housing corporations to improve engagement with state governments even as he appreciated the efforts of AHCN in addressing the housing challenges in the country. Dangiwa assured that the management are making plans to reactivate the EDL by adopting a business model to guide against abuse and loopholes associated with the loan before its suspension.

Chika Okeke

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