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5 things Buhari’s New Finance Minister Must Do Within 100 days

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will likely assign portfolios to ministers this week. Among the most anticipated appointments will be the office of the Minister of Finance.

In Nigeria, the Minister of Finance oversees setting and implementing the economic policies of the government. Under Buharinomics, this portfolio has been characterized by controversies and (perhaps this sounds harsh) incompetence.

Whomever President Buhari decides to appoint to that portfolio this week will have his or her work cut, out and could be expected to remain in the portfolio for the next four years. Never before, in the democratic dispensation ushered in since 1999, has the portfolio of the next Minister of Finance been so important.

Thus, it is crucial that whoever is appointed sets the ball rolling immediately, making a mark in the first 100 days in office. Nairametrics surveyed opinions from economists and analysts on what their expectations are from the Minister. Unfortunately, most of the requests instructively laid down by our analysts may not be acceded to, nevertheless, it still is important to lay down the marker.

 

Fiscal Quagmire: According to Wale Okunrinboye, the Head of Research at Sigma Pensions, the Minister will need to produce a credible plan for improving Nigeria’s fiscal revenues. Nigeria is yet to recover fully from the 2014 crash of the price of oil, as the government has had to rely on increased borrowings to finance capital and recurrent expenditure.

  • Since President Buhari assumed office in 2015, the country’s debt profile has increased by almost 107% in naira value.
  • In the first quarter of 2015, Nigeria’s total public debt stood at N12.4 trillion or $64.2 billion, while it rose to N24.9 trillion or $81.27 billion in March 2019.
  • Analysis of data obtained from the Debt Management Office also shows that Nigeria has spent a total of N7.04 trillion to service both domestic and external debts under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration alone.
  • Nigeria currently spends over 50% of its revenues on debt servicing.

Unfortunately, the government plans to fund the 2019 budget with even more borrowing. We do not expect the Finance Minister to go against this plan.

Relationship with CBN: According to Yomi Fawehinmi, an Oil and Gas expert and Economic commentator, the new Minister will have to secure better coordination with the Central Bank of Nigeria. During the last regime, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had a cordial relationship with the Governor of Central Bank in the eye of the media, but often differed on policy coordination.

  • While the government pursued economic expansion via monetary handout to the poor, the Central Bank towed the way of the hawkish monetary policy.
  • The Buhari government has spent billions on grants to farmers as it pushed through its agricultural policies.
  • While it favoured the way of grants and soft loans to farmers and other preferred sectors of the economy, the Central Bank often raised lending rates to discourage excessive borrowing, part of a grand plan to stifle demand for forex.
  • In the case where there was coordination, it was a disaster. Case in point, the way the government handled the exchange rate crisis and its synergy on pseudo banning of importation of 41 items.

 

Yomi believes that the government will have to focus more on policy coordination if it encourages private sector investments. He also believes that transparency in public finances is key in improving investor confidence in the management of economic coffers, especially the CBN.

Unfortunately, this too is unlikely to happen, as the president is more inclined towards interference. Just last week, the president declared that he had instructed the CBN Governor to stop providing forex to suppliers of food.

Budget ImplementationNigeria’s 2019 Budget has its fair share of positives, even if most critics of the government still highlight its shortcomings. Nevertheless, the new Minister will have to ensure that the budget implementation plan is robust and cash-backed.

  • Out of the N8.9 trillion earmarked for the 2019 Budget, N2 trillion was budgeted for Capital Expenditure.
  • Critical sectors such as Power, Works, and Housing are badly in need of funding to complete projects across the country and initiate new ones.
  • Massive infrastructural work across the country can help stimulate its economy.

Ighodaro Alonge, a Fund Manager, and Financial Analyst believe that the government should reduce its wage bill, particularly recurrent expenditure. It is however unlikely that the government will cut down on recurrent expenditure.

In fact, over the years, the government has achieved 100% spending on recurrent expenditures but far less on capital expenditure. It could also be beyond the purview of the Minister of Finance to implement budget across the economy.

CBN Ways and Means: In 2016, the Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi accused the CBN of contravening section 38.2 of the CBN act by borrowing more than the required threshold to the Federal Government. This has not deterred the CBN, as the apex bank has continued to lend money to the government.

  • As at May 2019, the CBN has lent a whopping N6.8 trillion to the FG in the form of “overdraft for Budgetary Expenses” as contained in its data.
  • The CBN Ways and Means, which the Emir of Kano alleged was being violated, is also drawn to the tune of about N277 billion only.
  • The government is likely to continue to rely on the CBN to fund its budgetary expenses, hoping to repay someday from oil receipts.

Dr. Nonso Obikili, an Economist, believes that the new Minister should rein in on the indirect financing of the FG by the CBN. With oil prices falling and the government increasingly failing to achieve its budgetary targets, it is unlikely that the new minister will have the balls to stop this ill-advised policy.

It is interesting to note how similar all the recommendations are including that of @Ugodre, the founder of Nairametrics.

See the table below:

Finance Minister, Buhari
What the new Finance Minister must do

Source: nairametrics

How Family Homes Funds is leading ‘Next Level’ Affordable Housing Delivery

Against all odds, Family Homes Funds has established itself as a reliable social housing scheme for low and medium income earners in Nigeria. At its conception, sceptics were unsure – and rightly so – about how a federal government plan to build at least 500, 000 homes and create up to 1.5 million jobs in the process within 5 years through Family Homes Funds can be achieved. This scepticism was based on how replete Nigeria’s history is with many failed attempts to address the country’s embarrassing housing deficit.

It has been barely a year since kick-off, but the Fund has so far developed at least 1050 homes with another 3000 at different stages of development. They have been able to create about 1400 jobs through these projects. Over 500 units have been completed in Nasarawa state, 750 in Kano, 650 in Delta and many more all over the country.

Giving Nigeria’s housing deficit, these numbers might indeed seem like a drop in the ocean, but if previous projects were this consistent and result oriented, the deficit which many believe stands at least 17 – 20 million today wouldn’t have been.

With nearly 200 million people, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, and it is the 7th in world population ranking. In spite of this huge population, the country has struggled over decades to come up with a sustainable action plan that will reduce the incredible housing gap in the country.

Governments in many countries take the responsibility for the provision of housing through a mortgage financing system that simplifies home ownership for employed citizens, and a social security system for the unemployed. And this is why China with a population of 1.3 billion people has a housing surplus yet Nigeria with a population of about 200 million has a housing deficit.

It is against this backdrop that the current administration under the leadership President Muhammadu Buhari and the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, introduced new policy measures and initiatives to address the housing challenges in the country.

The Family Homes Fund Limited is one of such new initiatives. The Fund is a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority as founding shareholders. The Fund is the largest affordable housing-focused fund in Sub-Sahara Africa, leveraging its significant capital (in excess of N500billion by 2023) to facilitate access to affordable housing for millions of Nigerians on low to medium income groups. Through strategic partnerships with various players in the sector and some of the world’s main Development Finance Institutions, the Fund has an ambitious commitment to facilitate and supply 500,000 homes and 1.5million jobs for the low income earners by 2023.

Through its Rental Housing and Help-to-Buy Schemes, beneficiaries of the project enjoy a deferred loan for up to 40% of the cost of their home. For the first 5 years of the loan, no payments need to be made. From the 6th year, monthly payments will be made to start repaying both interest and capital to assist the purchaser. The amount paid starts low and increases each year in gradual steps (average 6.5% per annum) in order for the Help-To-Buy loan to be fully repaid by the 20th year, the same year the mortgage is expected to be fully repaid.

To qualify, households will have earnings between N600k to N1.2m per annum and the Fund ensures that 1 bedroom unit should not be more than N3 million; 2 bedroom unit should not be more than N4.5 million, and 3 bedroom should not be more than N6.5 million. An exception is made in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano where the cost of a new home can be as high as N9m. Households benefiting from Loan Assistance will not be owners of a suitable home and will include one income earner who is under 35 years of age and does not have to be one of the people applying for the scheme or the loan but must be available to help with repayments.

The Fund is in strategic partnership with housing stakeholders like the NMRC, with which it is currently working on affordable mortgages specifically through the Help-to-Own product where low income earners can enjoy the most affordable and flexible mortgage system in the country.

Family Homes Funds is most likely the only agency today in the country that is providing financing for affordable housing outside of the commercial banks where the interest rates, requirements, affordability and development costs are usually high. The fact that they are able to provide financing at no more than 10 percent per annum which is about one third of the market rate is a significant and novel intervention.

Most states that are in partnership with the Fund are now keying into the program to provide housing for their staff through the fund. In Borno state, the Fund is providing about 4700 homes, with 3000 of those being very low cost homes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Ltd/Gte C-STEMP, an organization with a vision to build a pool and database of certified artisans with the requisite skills to meet industry needs that translate to better quality of work and life for all stakeholders – Family Homes Funds has shown commitment to incorporate training, assessment and certification as a condition for beneficiaries to access its programs and to ensure that only skilled labour are utilized on its projects. Its laudable partnership with C-STEMP is to provide affordable and quality homes while creating jobs for highly qualified persons.

What makes Family Homes Funds stand out? The motivation behind the establishment of Family Homes Funds is based on the fact that it is not just enough to supply houses without taking care of the demand side. The Fund dedicates sufficient strategy to ensuring that the supply of houses meets the demand for it.

As calls for sustainable building rings loud in the air, Family Homes Funds already leads the way through its collaboration with other agencies in the development and application of building innovations that can be cost effective. Family Homes Funds is working with bodies like MBRI to commercialise innovative building systems that rely very little on concrete and cement, which is a significant step in not only advancing local content, but ensuring sustainability.

As a testament to their hard-work, Family Homes Funds won the Affordable Housing Promoter of the Year Award at the 2019 Nigeria Housing Awards. The prestigious award is in recognition of ongoing affordable housing projects being financed by the fund for low and middle income earners across the country.

While the excellent progress of Family Homes Funds excites stakeholders, there is the need for government to ensure that the kind of bureaucracy and political interference that have prevented previous and ongoing housing initiatives in the country from achieving their set aims do not affect Family Homes Funds. Its independence and all-round support from the government ought to be uninterrupted if set goals are to be reached in the allotted time frame of delivering the 500, 000 homes.

Buharinomics

“The global financial world has been atwitter about the inversion of the yield curve. It is a phenonemon in the bond market in which longer term interest rates fall below shorter term interest rates, and has historically been a warning sign that a recession could be on the way” – Financial Times.

“Stock investors tracking corporates in the busy earnings season are slowly waking up to alarming yield inversions in advanced economies of the US and UK. In countries like Germany, Japan, Australia and Singapore, yields have flattened, mirroring a slow down in the global economy” – Economic Times.

These are clear signals and developments that indicate a move towards a recession. In the US, employers are not employing and stocks are dropping, a significant drop that has been the worst in over a decade of the US stock market. Germany has experienced a consistent contraction of its economy over four quarters, showing a drop in exports. Egypt too is in turmoil as poverty keeps getting worse, with very little FDI and their adoption of the IMF programme has not really helped. Nigeria’s former finance minister had insisted that Nigeria was not going to devalue the naira and that we were going to depend on a local solution to our local problems. Importantly, most of our economic woes are self-inflicted.

Today, Nigeria is the darling to world economic super powers like the US and China who are locked in a trade war, which has not helped investors from both countries. Huawei was sent packing out of America and it is looking to African countries for industrial space. America has multiplied tariffs on Chinese goods and negotiations have been dead-locked. This has shifted the attention of investors to countries like Nigeria, who, aside oil wealth, are rich in so many minerals, agriculture and a very huge human resource of both skilled and unskilled labour.

China has brazenly earmarked 16 to 25 billion dollars, the US has so far pumped in over 2 billion dollars in agriculture and fast food outlets. Just recently, Goldman Sachs made a 30 million dollar investment in a Nigerian Logistics start up, Kobo360, for expansion and development. This is a categorical statement to US banks and investors that Nigeria is the new destination for business investments aside oil and gas.

Rice, cocoa, sugar, cotton and even maize were previously imported and the importers enjoyed tax waivers and other importation levies that made the prices of imported goods healthier than the locally produced ones, thus eroding the local production and market for Nigerian goods. The federal government is now rolling out policies and programmes that will further protect and grow foreign reserves, protect indigenous farmers and businesses, and eventually boost exports and curb inflation.

Mr. Bismarck Rewane, renowned economist and banker, has explained that PMB’s instructions on the ban of forex for importers of food and milk, are policy directions that will make the necessary impact in time to come. They are policies that will yield results and bring about the necessary economic impacts in the long term.

Nigeria’s inflation rate has been on a progressive decline, perhaps on the road to single digit, even if not immediately; it stands at an impressive 11. 08 per cent from a previous 11. 22 per cent. I came across some undergraduates from Bayero University, Kano, who are currently in the Hultprize Accelator in the United Kingdom. Ubaidurrahman Suleiman from Kano state, Abdulhafiz Adebayo from Kaduna state, and Mustapha Sani, from Katsina state. They are among the top 40 finalists in the world largest student competition. They qualified from a pool of 250,000 students from all around the world and they are hoping to qualify for the top six, to pitch their endeavour at the United Nations for the 1 million dollars cash prize.

They have developed a technology that uses solar technology to convert agricultural waste to smokeless charcoal for Nigerian households. This will provide jobs for youths in rural Nigeria. Brycoal, they termed it, will stop the burning of agric waste, and also the felling of trees for firewood, where 1.7 million trees are cut down daily in Nigeria for firewood and other uses. This solution is capable of saving over 25 million trees in 10 years, or even less, if properly developed. They sought the support of Nigerians to share and chip in.

There is also a young group of Nigerians led by Godwin Josiah, whose group of teenagers have been able to use just a green fabric which they bought from a six-month savings, a smashed smartphone, and a tripod from a broken microphone, to produce sci-fi films, hoping to  break into Nollywood. Their short sleek clips showed them being transported anywhere in the world in a sci-fi film background. They wanted to show that kids in Nigeria were able to do something different aside the usual narrative.

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state met with the kids and the Kaduna state government is working with the families of the group to help develop their skill and provide all the necessary support. The youngest of the group, eight-year-old Rachael Yusuf, will just be enrolling in secondary school at the end of the 2019 summer holiday.

The promotion of indigenous producers and local talent and skill is the way to go. And this is better done by implementing economic policies that protect local content. The world’s attention and investment focus is now on Africa, with Nigeria being prime to the actualisation of this endeavour. We will definitely face a lot of economic sabotage via the security challenges manifesting in different forms, from kidnappings, assassinations, veiled protests and anti-government movements, religious movements and so on. We cannot afford to drop the ball and lose focus from reclaiming our nation from the doldrums of poor economic programmes and prebendalism, which have actively worked against our economic growth and political stability.

The world is in economic crises, and that mischievous desire to plung ourselves in political crises will not only disintegrate the country, but would perish lives and property which are irrecoverable. We cannot choose to be immune to the manifestations of these struggles from countries like Syria, Libya, and lately Sudan. We have a chance, now more than ever, for the rebirth of a stronger Nigeria, that can benefit from the spoils of an economic war of world super powers; and implement an economic and industrial revolution for our country. Political figures and presidential aspirants have been in the open to protest against government, or government policies that are aimed at improving the growth of our economy.

For example, Moghalu says PMB has no business instructing CBN, while in fact as a former CBN deputy governor, he ought to know that the CBN Act expressly states that CBN makes decisions with recourse to Mr President. But when GEJ sacked Sanusi back in 2014, in breach of CBN laid down guidelines, he sided with GEJ. Sowore was also a presidential aspirant. Why didnt he lead a revolution (or protest) before 2015, after all it is the same government? Why lose an election and then come back at it with an overnight quest for revolution? Isn’t it political? We must see clearly, that most of the distractions coming on are mere political vituperations to unsettle the government in power. Let us choose to give support to our youth who have faith and belief that their country will be a better place, where innovation can thrive and produce our own versions of the Gates, the Zuckerbergs and the Buffets. The wars being invoked are not good but pure evil, dressed in sheep’s attire, promising healthy lamb and pure milk, but in truth, they are poisonous and lethal. Nigeria is a better place, and you can ask even Al-Zakzaky.

Source: blueprint

45 Construction Terms & Concepts All Architects Should Know

For most recent graduates, it quickly becomes evident that what you learn in architecture school is not necessarily enough to become a confident architect. Some things can’t be taught in classrooms at all; instead, they’re acquired through years of work on site and solving construction problems first-hand. Among the many things you learn on site are the terminologies used by construction workers that can sound like absolute nonsense to architects at first.

An architecture dictionary might seem like a superb idea, but in practice wouldn’t be convenient on a construction site—unless you can memorize the useful entries out of the 25,000 terms in Cyril M Harris’ Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Alternatively, here’s a more manageable list of 45 construction terms and concepts every architect should know.

  1. All-in Rate: InConstruction, the term means the total expenses for an item, which include all the direct and indirect costs. The term is also used in the financial sector.
  2. Architect of Record: This term signifies the name of the architecture firm, or architect, whose name has been listed on the issued construction permits. However, “architects of record” are not necessarily the people behind the design. There are times when high-profile architects who don’t have an office near to their construction site hire “architects of record,” handing them the responsibility of working on-site or using their expertise in a specific field.
  3. Batter (Walls): No, not cake batter, sadly. In architecture, batter means an inward inclination or slope of a wall or structure. Some architects choose this design to provide structural strength while others choose it for decorative purposes.
  4. Blocking (Construction): Evidently, the term is derived from “blocks,” and means the use of short pieces or off-cuts of lumber in wooden-framed construction.Constructionworkers use the blocking technique for filling, spacing, joining, or reinforcing structures.
  5. Box Crib: Think of this as the final steps of a game of Jenga, but without the anxiety of a collapse. Instead, box cribs are temporary elements used to reinforce and add additional support to heavy objects during construction.The material used to create box cribs are often wooden bars. Due to their practicality, box crib forms are also used in film productions for stabilizing platforms and dolly tracks.
  6. Building Engineer: The MVPs of construction. They know it all, and are responsible for most of what goes on during construction. Building engineers differ from one country to another, but are mainly the experts of construction, technology, design, assessment, and maintenance, all at once.
  7. Cant (Architecture): Or canted, is an oblique or angled line of a surface. Think of it as chamfering the edges of a building’s plan. This design was heavily used in Baroque architecture to create a continuous feel to the composition.
  8. Catastrophic Failure: If the term wasn’t obvious enough, “catastrophic failures” are abrupt, irrecoverable construction mishaps. The term has been extended to other domains, and is now used for chemical engineering, firearms, and cascading system failures.
  9. Concrete Cover: The term is linked to reinforced concrete and is the least distance between the installed reinforcement and the outer surface of the concrete. The concrete cover has several vital purposes, including protecting the reinforced steel bars from corrosion, providing thermal insulation, and providing sufficient embedding for the steel bars to function as reinforcement.
  10. Concrete Slab: One of the few construction elements that is used in the vast majority of all structures, a concrete slab is the thick (average of 10-40 cm) horizontal concrete platform which is created to construct the floor or ceiling. There are several slab designs (corrugated, ribbed, waffle, one-way) and each one corresponds to the design or endurance required.
  11. Course (Architecture): Other than the class you take in architecture school, a course is the term used to describe a continuous row of masonry. Whether it’s stones, bricks, or concrete blocks, a course can have several orientations and types.
  12. Cross Bracing: Cross bracing is a structural component used to improve the endurance of a structure. The X-shaped reinforcement can prevent a building from collapsing completely in case of earthquakes, or a wooden chair from falling apart.
  13. Cut and Fill: While creating railways and canals, construction workers would create cut slopes (like a mini valley) to install the railways. The soil that’s been moved, the fills, would subsequently create adjacent embankments, minimizing the labor. The approach is now frequently used on construction sites of any size.
  14. Damp Proofing: since dampness is among the most common construction problems, damp proofing is a procedure done to the structure to prevent potential moisture from being absorbed by walls and entering the interior. Depending on the nature of the structure and the damp problems it might face, a wide variety of materials can be applied onto the slab, under the final finishing, or even as a surface to act as damp proofing and prevent any spoilage.
  15. Design-build: In most projects, construction is frequently delayed due to time conflicts between two (or more) teams involved. The idea behind design-build is that the same team who designs the project constructs it as well. It is a project delivery system in which the design and the construction are considered “single-point-responsibility,” reducing costs and delivering the project on time.
  16. Diagrid: The idea behind “diagrid” is pretty simple: diagonal + grid. Diagrids are diagonally intersecting steel beams (occasionally wooden or concrete), which help reduce the amount of steel used in traditional steel framing.
  17. Encasement: On a construction site, encasement might refer to one of two things: in some situations, sewers and other underground pipes may need to be enclosed in a concrete encasement for structural reasons; or, the term might be applied to the process of encasing hazardous materials already installed in a structure such as asbestos.
  18. Falsework: Mostly used for large arch structures and bridges, falsework is a temporary structure constructed to support and hold the span during construction or repairs.
  19. Formwork: Formwork isfalsework’s best friend. It is the construction of a temporary structure into which concrete is poured for it to be settled and set in the desired form.
  20. Joint (building): Joints are inserted between two distinct materials in a structure which do not have any physical connection to one another but are either aligned next to each other or overlap.
  21. Joist: Joists are crucial components of a wide-span structure, as they help transfer the load from the beams to the vertical columns and studs. These horizontal elements are connected perpendicularly to the beams (horizontally) and joined (vertically) to the columns.
  22. Lean Construction: A newly developed delivery system in which a study is conducted to minimize the waste of material, time, and effort, resulting in an efficient project.
  23. Lift Slab Construction: Also known as the Youtz-Slick method, the lift slab method ensures time efficiency and safety. Basically, the concrete slabs are cast on ground level, and are then lifted through hydraulic jacks into the designated placement. This methods not only saves  time, but also does not require workers to be creating and working with formwork on high ground levels.
  24. Lookout (architecture): Lookouts are wooden joists that extend beyond the exterior wall in a cantilever-like manner, to support the roof sheathing phase in construction.
  25. Moling: This is the use of a 60-centimeter-long, 6-centimeter wide steel “mole,” a pneumatically-driven device which is inserted into the ground to create holes for pipes, heating coils, and heat pump systems without using any trenches.
  26. Monocrete Construction: The monocrete construction method is the sole use of precast concrete panels, bolted together, to create concrete structures.
  27. Performance Gap: Similar to when you expect to have three design proposals delivered by the end of the week, but you end up with only one because you’re just too tired, performance gap is when the expected work progress does not meet with the result on site. This could be due to environmental, workmanship, or occupant reasons.
  28. Precast Concrete: One of the most commonly used forms of concrete, precast concrete is concrete elements are created off-site to be transferred or lifted to the site later on. Designs could range from blocks to panels, and create solid but maneuverable elements.
  29. Purlin: A purlin is any longitudinal element implemented on the roof structure horizontally for additional structural or material support.
  30. Quantity Take-off: Before beginning with the construction phase, a study is held by estimators to acquire the detailed measurements of material and labor force needed to complete the project. This process is called quantity take-off and helps the project developers have full knowledge of what to expect during the construction phase.
  31. Rafter: Rafters are a series of inclined wooden elements that form a roof, which attach to the edge of the wall plate and often overhang to form the eave.
  32. Rim Joist: In flooring systems, rim joists are attached to the ends of the floor’s main joists, providing lateral support to the ends of the decking system. However, they are not the end joists, which are usually the first and last row, parallel to the other joists.
  33. Rubblization: In order to save time and extra cost, unwanted existing concrete is broken down to pieces of rubbles, and left in its place to become the base layer for new surfaces, instead of transferring the material to another site.
  34. Shiplap: You’ve probably seen shiplaps everywhere, but may have referred to them as wood panels. Shiplaps are a type of inexpensive wooden board or panels fixed onto the sides of barns, sheds, and homes.
  35. Shoring: Temporarily installed on site, shoring is the method in which metal or timber props are assembled to support the structure during construction. Shores can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, depending on the support needed.
  36. Soil Stockpile: The grown-up version of the sand pyramids we used to do as kids, soil stockpiles are created when bulldozers excavate the soil on site and stack them in piles.The piles never go to waste because they are used later on for level grading (see “Cut and fill”).
  37. Wall Stud: Wall studs are crucial members of wooden or steel wall frames, as they are the vertical elements that help support and transfer loads of bearing and nonbearing walls.
  38. Superstructure: In generalterms, superstructure simply means a structure built on top of another structure. Typically, this term is used to describe any part of a building that is above ground, with the parts of the building below ground conversely referred to as the substructure.
  39. Thin-Shell Structure: Frequently used in modern-day architecture, thin-shell structures are lightweight concrete elements, typically used on roofs. These large elements are usually curved, making use of the structural performance of certain forms to allow reduced material thickness.
  40. Tie (Cavity Wall): There are times when two elements of a building can not be merged together, and this is when ties come to the rescue. Ties in cavity walls are typically made of metal or plastic wires, and are placed in between the two materials, “tying” them together to create a homogenous body.
  41. Topping Out: A ceremonial practice that traces back to ancient Scandinavia, topping out originally referred to when the builder installs a wooden beam on top of the structure to indicate its completion. These days, it is simply the moment when the uppermost structural element is installed and is often heralded as a major construction milestone.
  42. Trombe Wall: Developed by French engineer Felix Trombe and architect Jacques Michel in the 1960s, a trombe wall is a solar building element that is designed for cold countries. Similar to the greenhouse principle, it is when a glass external layer is built outside walls with openings, absorbing the heat during sunlit hours of winter. The heat is then slowly released overnight to provide warmth through the openings.
  43. Underpinning: Underpinning is the act of strengthening an existing structural foundation. If the project is being done on a previously built structure, the foundation might not be strong enough or new enough to carry the new building. Underpinning can be mass concrete, beams and base pinning, or mini-piled pinning, depending on the suitable solution to each structure.
  44. Virtual Design & Construction: or VDC, includes all the multi-disciplinary models of a project. The list includes, but is not limited to, engineering modeling (product, process), analysis methods, model-based designs, scheduling, costs, and visualizations.
  45. Voided Biaxial Slab: To be able to reduce the cost and weight of large-spanned reinforced concrete slabs, Joseph-Louis Lambot decided to create voids inside the concrete blocks, reducing the amount of concrete used but maintaining the overall endurance and external appearance of the slabs. These slabs are called voided biaxial slabs and are heavily used in construction nowadays.

Source: archdaily

High Cost of Housing Cuts Into Food, Utilities Study Says

More than a third of Americans have been forced to cut spending on essential items like food and utilities to afford housing, according to a Freddie Mac study.

About 42 percent of renters and 33 percent of homeowners have had to reduce the money spent on essentials to cover the cost of housing during the prior two years, the report said. Overall, 62 percent of renters and 47 percent of owners reported struggling to afford housing.

“Our research confirms much of what we see in our business every day — affordability remains the essential factor when it comes to determining whether to rent or purchase a home, and the cost of housing is having a significant impact on households of every age, size and location,” said David Brickman, president and incoming CEO of Freddie Mac, as Yahoo reports. “For millennials and many Gen Xers, buying a home is no longer just a decision based on housing and housing costs — increasing pressure from student loans and the rising cost of child care are having a significant impact.”

Freddie Mac conducted the online survey over a four-day period. The poll collected data from 4,040 respondents over the age of 18, including 2,864 homeowners, 1,119 renters and 57 others.

“While we tend to focus primarily on wages not keeping up with house prices and misperceptions of down payments, we should also recognize that for many millennials and Gen Xers, the basic cost of living has gone up,” says Brickman, as Yahoo cited. “Heavy burdens from student loans and the rapidly rising cost of child care are clearly affecting the housing decisions of these individuals.”

Student debt has more than doubled over the past decade to more than $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Of millennials who rent, 51 percent said they based their choice of housing on their student loan payments.

The cost of child care has also risen over the past 30 years, according to the report. About 31 percent of renters and 45 percent of homeowners reported choosing cheaper housing to afford daycare, according to Freddie Mac.

Over half of workers employed in such vital positions as healthcare, education and law enforcement have made housing decisions with their student loan repayment obligations in mind, the report noted.

About 35 percent of home owners who reported trouble affording housing in the last two years had to move to find a more affordable place to live, an increase of nine percent since last August.

Source: mercurynews

Ways Nigerians in Diaspora Can Own Property At Home

Nigerians abroad still have challenges building houses at will living overseas. contend with when it comes. While labouring to improve their wellbeing in foreign countries building houses that they can retire to each time they visit home or return  permanently often poses an Herculean task. 

Many have burnt their fingers entrusting such projects to close relatives and neighbours including brothers, sisters and close inlaws. Oftentimes such gestures are abused by relatives and friends who capitalise on the relationship to cheat the man and corner his wealth. Usually such relations would continue to feed a man with false information that everything was fine and good while in actual fact they are eating him off. They can even send picture of a completed building purporting it is the worth of his money.

Today, many Nigerians living  abroad have started asking many questions on how they can own homes in their fatherland without falling victim to dubious relatives an friends while abroad.

They are now leaving their relations and going the extra mile to contract independent developers to build and hand over their choice properties to them.

Although many living abroad still indulge in this system, majority have had their hands burnt in the process.

The second approach would be to use mortgage institutions to get such projects actualised even though this has it’s peculiar problems.

This is because the principal often will not get his choice property or the desired quality materials at a preferred location.

Recently, a particular Primary Mortgage Bank came up with an initiative that Nigerians in the Diaspora could lay hand on. It could be a spring board upon which one can inject innovation in the system. Brent Mortgage Bank,  a primary mortgage institution recently introduced ‘Brent Home Ownership Diaspora Account’ designed to facilitate home ownership for Nigerians in Diaspora.

It Managing  Director, Mr Kola Abdul,  while announcing unveilin of its three new products disclosed that the products included the BRENTO (Brent Rent to Own) and BREHOP (Brent Retirement Home Plan).

When Abdul tried to explain the features of this kind of mortgage, he said that Brent Home Ownership Diaspora Account is in realisation that Nigerians working hard and living in decent accommodations outside the country also deserve a decent place of abode here in Nigeria. It is also in realisation that many of them have not been able to achieve this dream of owning a home of their choice because of the tripod of ‘funds diversion’, ‘funds suppression’ and ‘funds conversion’ by friends and relations.

This product also seeks to eliminate the above challenges aside the fact that it identified some marketing agents in USA, U.K. and Republic of Ireland who would assist in conducting due diligence on the prospects. What is required is the completion of the forms on-line with requisite documents  attached. The prospect at the onset will state the area where he or  she wants the property, type of property, price range and other  necessary details. For that reason, Brent opened domiciliary accounts with two  commercial banks in Nigeria. Remittances would be made into any of these accounts in three different currencies namely, US Dollar, Pounds  Sterling and Euro.

When the local value of the remittances are close to 30 percent of the value  of property of  interest, customer would choose from identified properties and partake  in price negotiation with the support of the firm.

Brent would conduct legal,  physical and general investigations on the approved property before full payment is made and customer takes possession. Mortgage would thereafter be created on agreed rate and tenor while customer repays  quarterly. Legal title would be transferred to customer immediately mortgage obligations are fully settled by customer.

A lot of other similar real estate firms have other methods through which diaspora Nigerians are aided in having their homes in the country. There are rent to own methods where one can rent an apartment for his parents. While they lived in the apartment, the full payment for the property will be completed. There is also an outright purchase method whereby a real estate agent who sells buy and pack, contacts the buyer of a completely fitted apartment. He buys it and the parents packs in immediately; taking that as family house. This is also in vogue although in majority of cases, the buyer may not know whether the building was made with quality building materials or the inferior ones. That is one of the disadvantages, however.

But, with respect to the ‘Brent Rent to Own’ Customers and prospects are expected to meet the company’s affordability and eligibility requirements, and  with payment of little equity contribution, a customer moves into any  of the properties financed by the company.

In this regards, the company thereafter, collects yearly payment of a lump sum which covers mortgage repayment  and interest elements for an agreed period of time ranging from  (5years to 10years). When the property amount and interests are fully settled, the customer/occupant becomes the legal owner for life.  Interest payable is 10 percent p.a. which is very competitive.

On the ‘Brent Retirement Home Plan’ Customers and prospects with regular stream of income, especially salary earners can take advantage of this product to become home owners before retirement. An account needs to be opened with us giving details of employment. There would be 30 percent equity build up at the earliest convenience of the customer/prospect. The two parties would identify the property the customer has the capacity to repay without pressure on his take-home  pay. Interest rate is negotiable and competitive.

Source: sunnewsonline

How Executive Interference Erodes CBN’s Independence

…as FG order on FX for food imports may be illegal

President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country is a trampling of the independence of the apex bank, according to leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who spoke to BusinessDay on the matter.

The President had on Tuesday said he had directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country, claiming there has been a “steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security”.

“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” Buhari said, according to Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, in a series of tweets.
But the legal luminaries faulted the Presidential directive, saying it amounted to usurpation of the powers of the CBN.

“As things will be, perhaps unknown to the Presidency, the law no longer allows executive control of the CBN. Indeed, the President has no constitutional, legal or executive powers over the CBN that enables a directive as to the operational activities of the CBN – in the way he has over his general staff,” said Konyin Ajayi, a professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Ajayi explained that it would be a usurpation of powers if the statement credited to the President is seen other than as an opinion or desire in his overall view of government’s position on exchange controls of monetary policy.

“As the courts are, for instance, granted independence, so has the CBN by virtue of the CBN Act which the President is under oath to uphold,” he noted.

Another SAN, who does not want his name mentioned, agreed with Ajayi.
“Legally, the president cannot order an independent entity like the Central Bank of Nigeria to do what he wants even if that which the President wants done might be a good thing to do,” the SAN told BusinessDay.

He, however, added that the CBN might be to blame for the development.

“But we have a dilemma here. The CBN may have made itself amenable to supervision by the president by its foray into the fiscal space, the political space – on account of the demonstrable incompetence of the executive branch. So the president may now begin to see the governor of the bank as he sees one of his ministers and think he can order him around,” he said.

Even though the constitution empowers the President to appoint a CBN governor subject to approval from the Senate, the CBN Act of 2007 provides the apex bank with the autonomy that makes it free from direct political or government interference in the conduct of monetary policy.

The monetary authority is usually in charge of attaining price stability by managing the interest rates as well as the total supply of money in circulation and is controlled by the central bank of a country, while a country’s fiscal policy is determined by the executive and legislative branches of the government, charged with the responsibility of influencing economic activities through taxes and government spending.

Osaro Eghobamien, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said it was necessary to understand the context in which the President’s directive was given; whether “the directive issued was one that relates to fiscal policy (a statement to achieve full employment, price stability and sustained growth in the economy, with the intention of stimulating local demand) or whether it was one that relates to monetary policy (the mechanism for controlling the total supply of money in circulation)”.

“If categorised as a statement tending towards fiscal policy, undoubtedly the President has the powers to make such directives regarding economic policies just as the Minister of Finance would do. The complexity is that the Central Bank is not created to execute fiscal policies. The situation is different when dealing with issues relating to monetary policy in which case the President will not have the powers,” Eghobamien said.

“The CBN is in control of the mechanism that regulates the FOREX and as a result there is some overlap in its functions. Under the law, whereas the CBN has the powers to hold FOREX, it is the executive that has the powers to decide the sector to which the CBN may allocate FOREX. The intricacy inherent in this issue is demonstrated in the intervention role that the CBN is performing. It is pertinent to note that the CBN has in the past assumed the role of allocating FOREX and it is must be presumed that it takes directives from the President in that regard,” he said.

Eghobamien said the CBN is independent and its independence is in relation to its stated objectives.

“These objectives are as stated in the CBN Act including: (a) ensure monetary and price stability; (b) issue legal tender currency in Nigeria; (c) maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency;(d) promote a sound financial system in Nigeria; and (e) Act as banker and provide economic and financial advice to the Federal Government. (see section 2(a) of the CBN Act 2007),” he said.

He said the provisions of section 1(3) of the Central Bank Act, 2007 must be viewed from that perspective and that if the President had made a directive in connection with any of the above objectives, it would be undermining the independence of the CBN.

 

“We do not consider that the President’s statement undermines or relates to any of these objectives. Instead, the statement relates more to enhancing the agricultural sector, boosting employment and using the allocation of forex to re-enforce the enhancement of the sector.

“Whilst it is readily conceded that the function of maintaining external reserves to maintain the value of the legal tender (ascertain exchange rate) is a matter for the CBN, we take the view that the question as which sector is permitted to purchase the scarce resource is for the executive and not for the CBN to decide,” he said.

“On a final note, the CBN ought to be seen as an independent institution and as such the President ought not to convey the impression that he controls the CBN. This is notwithstanding the fact that his comments were more of general economic policies. After all, the CBN is not statutorily mandated to execute fiscal policy. Better still such pronouncement should be left to the CBN governor after consultations with the President,” he said.

Previous administrations had one way or the other meddled in the affairs of monetary authorities. While former President Goodluck Jonathan removed the then CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua stopped Chukwuma Soludo from implementing some monetary policies.

Source: businessdayng

The World’s Most Liveable Cities in 2019

For ten consecutive years, Vienna ranks first in the Mercer survey on cities with the best quality of life in the world. In this edition to the global ranking, eight Western European cities join the top ten, even when “trade tensions and populist undercurrents continue to dominate the global economic climate”, as Mercer points out in its report.

In its 21st edition, the consultancy includes — for the very first time — a separate ranking on personal safety, with Luxembourg named the safest city in the world.

Mercer, which specializes in advising multinational companies in the transfer of employees, has evaluated more than 450 cities around the world.

Their rankings take into account 39 factors divided into 10 categories, including socio-cultural, political and economic environment, medical and health considerations, educational and leisure opportunities, housing markets and natural environment. According to Mercer, the world’s most liveable cities in 2019 are:

1. Vienna, Austria

Adria Wien at Danube Canal. Vienna, Austria.. Image © Christian Stemper, via Vienna Tourist Board

Adria Wien at Danube Canal. Vienna, Austria.. Image © Christian Stemper, via Vienna Tourist Board

2. Zurich, Switzerland

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© Lukas Schlagenhauf [Flickr], under license CC BY-ND 2.0. ImageZurich, Switzerland
 

3. Vancouver, Canada

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© Rick Schwartz [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC 2.0. ImageVancouver, Canada

4. Munich, Germany

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© Mariano Mantel [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC 2.0. ImageMunich, Germany
 

5. Auckland, New Zealand

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© Klanarong Chitmung / Shutterstock.com. ImageAuckland, New Zealand

© Klanarong Chitmung / Shutterstock.com. ImageAuckland, New Zealand
 

6. Düsseldorf, Germany

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© Simon Collison [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. ImageDüsseldorf, Germany
 

7. Frankfurt, Germany

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© Telesniuk. ImageFrankfurt, Germany

© Telesniuk. ImageFrankfurt, Germany
 

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

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© LaMiaFotografia. ImageCopenhagen, Denmark

© LaMiaFotografia. ImageCopenhagen, Denmark
 

9. Geneva, Switzerland

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Geneva, Switzerland. Image © Samuel Borges Photography

Geneva, Switzerland. Image © Samuel Borges Photography
 

10. Basel, Switzerland

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© VV Nincic [Flickr], under license CC BY 2.0. ImageBasel, Switzerland
 

11. Sydney, Australia

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© Kevin Rheese [Flickr], under license CC BY 2.0. ImageSydney, Australia
 

11. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image © Ali Suliman

Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image © Ali Suliman
 

13. Berlin, Germany

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© Daniel Mennerich [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. ImageBerlin, Germany
 

14. Bern, Switzerland

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© dmitry vetrov [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. ImageBern, Switzerland
 

15. Wellington, New Zealand

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Wellington, New Zealand. Image © Victor Maschek

Wellington, New Zealand. Image © Victor Maschek
 

16. Toronto, Canada

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© mariusz kluzniak [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. ImageToronto, Canada
 

17. Melbourne, Australia

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© f11photo. ImageMelbourne, Australia

© f11photo. ImageMelbourne, Australia
 

18. Luxembourg, Luxembourg

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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Image © Sabino Parente

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Image © Sabino Parente
 

19. Ottawa, Canada

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© Michael Muraz [Flickr], under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. ImageOttawa, Canada

20. Hamburg, Germany

© Carsten Frenzl [Flickr], under license CC BY 2.0. ImageHamburg, Germany

Source: archdaily

Nigeria Needs 3.3m Fresh Jobs Yearly To Maintain Record-High 23% Unemployment Rate

…manufacturing, construction, professional services strategic to job creation

For Nigeria to keep its unemployment rate stable at record-high 23 percent, assuming this was desirable, the country would need to create at least 3.3 million jobs every year. Keeping the unemployment rate stable would help the country avoid exacerbating joblessness and absorb new labour market entrants. But Nigeria struggled to create only a fifth of this number of jobs in the last four years.

What is desirable, though, is for Nigeria to drastically reduce its current rate of unemployment, which climbed to 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018, from 8.2 percent in 2015.
Creating 3.3 million jobs annually means Africa’s largest economy would need to revert to the private sector by attracting more foreign direct investments (FDI), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) stated in its latest report.

“At the moment, Nigeria’s private sector does not have the capacity to absorb the rapidly increasing unemployed population in the short term,” the NESG said.

Nigeria’s jobless rate embarked on an upward spiral in 2015 after a decline to 6.4 percent a year earlier, a development which followed a 36 percent dip in FDI inflows to $1.45 billion in 2015 from $2.28 billion. In the last four years, Nigeria was able to attract an average FDI of about $1.17 billion each year.

Since 2017 when oil-dependent Nigeria emerged from its economic recession, not only has the growth been sluggish but also only a few sectors triggered the expansion, further undermining the country’s capacity to create enough jobs to meet the growing number of labour market entrants.

Out of about 4.8 million Nigerians who entered the country’s labour market between 2015 and 2018, about 635,000 jobs were created within the period, indicating only a job was available for every 8 people who joined Nigeria’s economically active workforce.

While there seems to be no end in sight for the country’s soaring jobless rate, the challenge could be resolved through private sector expansion and industrial growth, according to the research arm of NESG.

For instance, in 2018, 13 out of the 19 major sectors contributed positively to GDP growth. Out of these 13 sectors, only 6 sectors accounted for 90 percent of GDP growth during the period.

Meanwhile, comparable data from Indonesia show that the top 6 sectors contributed 72 percent to the country’s GDP growth in half-year 2018, leaving room for the remaining 11 sectors.

“The GDP data for Nigeria show that there are many sub-sectors such as metal, iron and steel, and electrical and electronics, that contribute almost nothing to GDP growth, yet these sectors have the capacity to create jobs and meet the needs of consumers both in the local and export markets,” it stated.

To achieve these, the government would need to embark on urgent reforms capable of opening up key sectors that are strategic to job creation and have significant potential for growth such as manufacturing, construction, professional services, education, health and trade. This is expected to deliver about 12 million jobs over the next five years.

“The sectors were selected based on their larger weight in share of employment, share of GDP, strong backward and forward linkages and strong growth potential,” NESG stated.

These sectors “can meet the demand of consumers both at the local and export market and have the capacity to absorb a significant number of the country’s labour force”, it said.

Source: businessdayng

What Investors Need to Know For Profitable Investment in Commercial Real Estate Business

…as Greystone Tower opens for home buyers, investors, corporate tenants

Investing in real estate is an interesting, yet very intricate and challenging business. It is all the more challenging if the investment is in commercial segment of real estate, especially prime office space.

This explains why a prospective investor needs to know a few things this kind of investment needs in order for him to make profitable investment. There is need also to understand what both the external and interior parts of the space should be, or look like.

Professionals and marketers in this space advise that a commercial prime office building must have a flexible and technologically-advanced work environment that is safe, well-designed, well-built, and accessible. It should accommodate the specific space and equipment needs of its occupiers.

Udo Okonjo is the CEO, Fine and Country West Africa International-a real estate marketing, advisory and consultancy firm. The company has been operating consistently at the luxury end of the Nigerian real estate market and is reputed for successfully closing deals on many high end properties in Nigeria.

Okonjo explained to BusinessDay that in building a Grade A prime office space, special attention must be paid to the selection of interior finishes and art installations, particularly in the reception, meeting rooms and common areas. She added that well-maintained restrooms, lifts, provision of cafeteria, gym, crèche, smoking patio’s (terraces) should also be considered.

There are different methods of classifying Grade-A and Grade-B commercial office spaces. Okonjo points out that within the context of the Ikoyi and Victoria Island commercial office space offerings, Grade A buildings, such as the Greystone Tower, are unique in their location (accessibility) with a simple but iconic design and high construction quality.

Greystone Tower is an iconic mixed-use development strategically located at the intersection of two major business hubs in Victoria Island, Lagos. The building, designed by Majoroh Partnership and being built by Dori Construction and Engineering Limited, is standing on 18-floors.

According to the project managers, it has five floors of parking space; one of the floors consists of 4units of 3-bedroom residential apartments; there is a ‘concessionary floor’ with Restaurants, Creche, Clinic, Café & Gym. “Greystone promises to be one of the finest developments redefining the Lagos city skyline with its organic and responsive warm and clear glass façade,” the project managers assure.

Okonjo disclosed that at the building’s ‘Open House’ held a couple of weeks ago, developers, agents and investors were educated on the kinds of facilities that were made available, the selling points of the tower and why it was a great investment for both commercial and residential use.

The finishing of Grade A prime office buildings is always of the highest standards and, like Greystone Tower, they are equipped with technologically-advanced building safety, mechanical, electrical, and communications systems. Grade-A buildings are not only highly rated within their local communities, but are known to compete with similar developments in developed countries across the globe.

They also incorporate sustainability features and are value-engineered from the design stage to be Green/Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified developments.

Any standard prime office building must have features such as meeting/conference rooms; cafeteria, coffee shop; reception; with state-of-the art visitor management/access-control systems, as well as information central location for building directory, schedules, and general information.

The building should also have a common space and lounges for informal, multi-purpose recreation e.g the entertainment lounge at the Nestoil Tower and the water-front lounge at The Wings In Victoria Island, environment functionalities e.g. pressurized and fire-rated stairwells, railings at the staircases of the emergency-exits etc.

Provision of adequate alternative power-supply systems e.g. power generators and ups systems is also important just is necessary to incorporate water and sewage treatment plants; accessibility to the building at any time of the day – weekends inclusive

Other important features include provision of information technology dedicated server-room for each office unit, drivers lounge and maintenance room, dedicated kitchen; raised floor systems; energy efficiency – motion-sensored lights and water taps, and air-recycling systems Lagos’ state-of-the art security systems with closed circuit television cameras (CCTV).

There should be technologically advanced fire-alarm and fire-fighting systems – NFPA – 13 implemented; temperature monitoring in the critical areas e.g. Panel, ATS, control rooms etc; installation of health, safety and

Provision of adequate alternative power-supply systems e.g. Power Generators and UPS systems is important just as water and sewage treatment plants; accessibility to the building at any time of the day – weekends inclusive, and provision of information technology dedicated server-room for each office unit.

There is also need for drivers lounge and maintenance room, dedicated kitchen, raised floor systems, energy efficiency – motion-sensored lights and water taps and air-recycling systems.

Source: businessdayng

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