Zimbabwe’s President Fires Power Minister After 8 hours Power Outage

Mr. Joram Gumbo, Minister of Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe, has been fired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as the South African nation goes through its worst blackout in three years.

TheCable reports that the minister had licensed over 30 companies to provide solar power to the country and that he had concluded plans to travel to Mozambique, a neighbouring country, to tie up an electricity supply deal.

But President Mnangagwa had other ideas as he relieved Gumbo of his job and replaced the embattled cabinet member with Fortune Chasi, the Deputy Minister for Transport and Infrastructural Development.

The state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), announced that there will be blackouts across the country for about eight hours daily.

 ZETDC cited a drop in output at its largest hydro plant and ageing coal-fired generators for the load shedding and blackouts.

 

“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand,” ZETDC said in a statement.

Reuters reports that the last time Zimbabwe experienced a blackout this serious was in 2016 after a devastating drought.

 

Zimbabwe is currently producing 969 megawatts (MW) daily against peak demand of 2,100 MW, as water levels lower and coal supplies to generating plants plummet.

Zimbabwe reportedly experienced low amounts of rainfall during the 2018-2019 rainy season, a situation that negatively affected hydro dams in the country.

But Nigeria does it differently

Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, has been experiencing longer hours of blackout since independence in 1960, with no consequences whatsoever for officials in charge.

Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is currently the Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing (360dopes)

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola recently told a blackened nation that there is little the government can do to improve the electricity situation because the power sector was auctioned to private sector players in 2013.

In public discourse after another, Fashola continues to pass the buck to the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

“There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control for power have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so if you don’t have power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest.

“The people who are operating the power sector, generation and distribution are now privately owned companies. I am here because I am concerned. If your telephone is not working, it is not the minister of communication that you go to. Let us be very clear.

“So for those of you who want to weaponize electricity, face the businessmen who have taken it up. Let us be honest. If your bank over-charges you interest, is it the minister of finance you go to? So let’s be clear. This is now a private business by Act of parliament 2005.

“My role is regulatory, oversight and policy, but I have a problem which is the fact that I can’t see a problem and turn my back, so I’m getting involved. So the people you should be talking to about transformers is not me, the ministry doesn’t supply transformers anymore”, Fashola was quoted as saying in December of 2018.

The frequent collapses of a fragile grid

On Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9, 2019, Nigeria’s electricity grid collapsed for the umpteenth time, compounding the nation’s energy woes, subsuming an entire nation in swathes of darkness, crippling business activities and sending millions to gas stations to purchase petrol for noisy generators.

It would be the sixth time Nigeria’s power grid has collapsed in 2019.

The Nigeria Electricity System Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, announced this week that electricity generation stood at 2,441MW, dropping by 1,682MW from 4,129.2MW.

The system operator puts the nation’s installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5,375MW.

TCN Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, says power has worsened in Nigeria because the Distribution Companies (DisCos) are turning back electricity.

“Since I became the MD of TCN, the system instability recorded in the last two days (Wednesday and Thursday) was the worst because there was no time that we had system instability where the restoration took a longer time like this.

“And the reason is – we had a high voltage caused by the fact that electricity load was being rejected by the Discos. And the load was not being picked because of weak distribution network. So that is the reason for that instability”, Mohammed said.

 

Fashola and President Buhari crunch numbers at the APC situation room during the 2019 election (Presidency)

President Muhammadu Buhari rode to power in 2015 partly on the back of a promise to improve power supply to homes and businesses.

But outages and erratic supply of power remain recurring themes across Africa’s most populous nation.

Buhari won the February 23, 2019 presidential election and would kick off a second term in office on May 29, 2019.

Source: Pulseng

AIHS to Organise 1-day Training for Exhibitors – Find Out When

The organisers of the 13th Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) will hold a 1-day pre-show training event for managers of exhibitors’ stands at the main show which is billed for 23rd to 26th July 2019.

The organisers have a history of ensuring a seamless and professional show where every exhibitor is fully aware of how to make the most of show in terms of exhibition and sales. All companies and businesses that have registered for exhibition are to send in their representative or manager of their exhibition stand.

As an international show with many exhibitors from all over the world, every exhibitor ought to know before-hand the best strategies for performing very well at the exhibition.

The training which is on the 17th of July will also provide important instructions on how to set up an appealing stand that will suit the exhibited products in a way that can attract the right clients and customers.

The training will teach the exhibitors on how to exploit opportunities in the show that can help them make better sales than others. Some exhibitors do not perform very well because of little knowledge about how to effectively present and market their brands. The purpose of this training is to help exhibitors avoid that mistake.

Sometimes, there is a conflict of interest between exhibitors, especially neighbouring ones. This is usually because there was no prior training about how to handle their spaces and clients. This training will address such issues to avoid any rancour.

The training will also teach exhibitors on how to approach their clients and customers without pouncing or harassing them.

The training will also help exhibitors know how to identify the kind of clients that will only waste their time and how to avoid them.

The training will also help exhibitors know how to follow-up professionally on their newly established customers and clients.

All these and more will be the benefits for attending the exhibitors’ training which will take place on the 17th of July 2019.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

How AIHS Can Take You and Your Company to the Next Level

Thinking of attending the Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) which comes up from 23rd to 26th July 2019? There are countless reasons why you should! Attending the show will not only help you and your career, but also the company you work for. The benefits include opportunities to network, collaborate, gain knowledge, develop skills and prepare for the future.

Networking is one of the biggest benefits of attending the Abuja International Housing show. Building relationships is easiest in person, and the show provides a great way to meet new people and catch up with those you already know. You have the opportunity to meet new customers or business partners and strengthen relationships with existing clients.

At the conference session, you can meet industry experts and leaders as well as professionals that face the same challenges as you. You might not realize it, but being around so many of your peers in a new environment can even renew your motivation. When you attend a huge event such as Abuja International Housing Show, which will host over 40,000 local and international visitors this year, the re-energizing effect is only magnified.

AIHS, the largest housing and construction show in Africa, offers the perfect environment for collaboration. Its visitors come from at least 20 countries, giving you the chance to meet people from diverse cultural backgrounds and view the industry from new perspectives. It’s crucial to take advantage of discussions with your contacts, because it gives you an opportunity to share your ideas and ask questions. You might even think of new ideas or encounter solutions you weren’t aware of.

By collaborating within your network and listening to industry experts, you can effectively develop your knowledge base. Try to find information about:

● New tools and equipment
● Current and upcoming technologies
● Useful techniques or processes
● Industry best practices and standards
● Changes within the industry
● Competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

You can then bring this information back to your company to improve your products, services or systems, and ultimately grow your business.

When you watch demonstrations, attend training sessions and visit exhibitor booths, you have the chance to sharpen your skills – or develop new ones! Make sure you take advantage of any training opportunities that are offered across the show floor.

This year, for example, AIHS will host a CEO Forum that will help industry stakeholders fashion out a better way to advance the industry as a team, including special conferences for the 3-day event. Informational sessions such as these help you strengthen your weakest areas and prepare to face future challenges.

Besides helping you and your company, the show can also help your career. You’ll be able to see the different paths that professionals – including you – can take in the industry. This will open you up to future possibilities and help you make educated decisions about your career path.

While attending the show offers many benefits, what you get out of it depends on what you make of it. If you attend as a passive observer, you might not make that many connections or retain much information. If you get actively involved and focus on what you can bring back to your company, attending the show will be a valuable experience.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

Chinese have illegally annexed 485 hectares of our land, Ogun communities cry out

Igbesa and Ejila communities in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Areas of Ogun have called on President Mohammadu Buhari and Governor Ibikunle Amosun to save them from the Chinese encroaching on their lands.

 

The community leaders and land owners told the News Agency of Nigeria during a visit to the communities that over 485 hectares of farmland had so far been destroyed by the Chinese.

 

The leaders said that all efforts to caution the Chinese investors not to exceed the area marked for the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone had failed.

Chairman, Land Owners Committee of Igbesaland, Mr. Solomon Ajose, told NAN that they had no issues with the Chinese investors until 2017 when they began to seek for more lands.

Ajose said that when the community leaders approached the Chinese on their actions, they threatened to deal with them, while referring to the 1977 acquisition.

“This issue started in 2017, when one of us, Kabiru Ajayi, together with Manager of Ogun-Guangdong, Daniel Sheu, came to say that government had acquired our lands and we told them that our lands were not acquired.

“They were making reference to 1977 Acquisition and we told them that the 1977 acquisition did not extend to Igbesa, it ended at OPIC in Agbara area.

“These people are still laying claim to that 1977 acquisition and Igbesa is not mentioned in the gazette. Truly, Ogun State Government came here through a former Deputy Governor, Badru, who negotiated with the community.

“What the community gave them was 250 hectares for the establishment of Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone and that record is currently in Bureau of Lands.”

 

Ajose added: “They went further to a community called Ejila comprising of 12 villages, in that area one of the sons called Commissioner Akinremi, negotiated with the community who gave them 400 hectares.

“Those were the parcels of land given to the Ogun State Government and that was what they now gave to Ogun-Guangdong for the establishment of their company.

“But in 2018, some persons from the community, in connivance with the management of the Ogun-Guangdong, came in with bulldozers and cleared all our cash crops, food crops and any other thing that brought us income.

“The communities of Ejila and Igbesa are majorly farmers, we live on farming, we train our children through school from proceeds of farming, and our parents were farmers.

“Our only hope of survival has been cut off, dashed; we are in a bad situation in Igbesa here. Money is not coming in and you are not ready to go into robbery and other crimes,’’ Ajose said.

He said that though the community was not against the government of Ogun acquiring lands for public ventures, it should be done the right way and that the communities should be shareholders in such business ventures.

According to him, the land was not meant for commercial purposes and that is the business agreement between Ogun and the China firm, then the community should gain from public establishment like hospitals and tertiary institutions.

He said: “The 1,210 hectares the Chinese are encroaching into was not given to them. So far, no deliberations, consultations or compensation has been paid to the real land owners and we are not requesting for their compensation.

“Let them remain in the one given to them. Whereas the land given to Ogun-Guangdong is still lying fallow at Ejila, they are here to take what we use for farming.

“Leave our 485 hectares of land for farming to us. We appeal to President Buhari and Ogun government to caution these Chinese people because they are using policemen to harass us,’’ he said.

Mr. Adebayo Akinola, a Food Technologist, who had 21 acres of land and 10 acres of cassava plantation already destroyed by the Chinese, said that it was worth over N10m.

Akinola told NAN that the Chinese approached him with a token of less than N50,000, but he declined; only to be told that there were bulldozers on the land, destroying his cassava.

“We procured 21 acres sometime in 1990 in order to have an extension of a school where I am the administrator. In 2011, the family that sold the land to us started bringing up issues when the Chinese came and they wanted land.

“We went to court and the judgment was in our favour, that the land belonged to us. Then in 2016, the Chinese approached us that they wanted to buy the land for hotels and create roads from their factory to the main road, we declined that we did not want to sell.

“Only for us to hear in 2018 that they said they were the owners of the land. Currently, they have pulled down the fence. I had 10 acres of land where I planted cassava worth about N15m. Now the land has been cleared.

“We have court judgment on this land. I am still trying to get over the loss because we have put in so much and this is a threat to food sufficiency in the country. It is a threat to climate change too, how can you clear all the forest in this area?

“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to retrieve our lands from these Chinese people.

“When we reported the case to the Igbesa Police Division, they said we should not fight because the case was beyond them.”

He said that his farm workers were now out of jobs and he was confused as to how to care for them.

Mrs. Gbonke Dalamu, a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, explained that she was jobless before family members contributed money for her to set up a block company in the area.

Dalamu said: “Some years ago, my family members contributed money for me because there was no job after I graduated to start a small business, so my husband and I came here to sell cement and mould blocks.

“In February 2018, the Chinese people came here and said that they wanted to see my husband. After the meeting, they told my husband that they had something to offer him to forfeit the land and my husband said ‘No.’

“So, they requested to have another discussion and my husband told them to come to his house in Lagos, My husband called the other land owners he could reach to be present at the meeting.

“There was one Mr. Kabiru that represented the Chinese and he was angry with my husband that he wanted to see only my husband, why did he call others and my husband said whatever you have to say you should say it in front of everyone.

“Kabiru left without saying anything. Only for my husband to get threat messages from one Mr. Daniel, who we believe is the head of the Guangdong firm here.

“In the text, he said, since you have refused to cooperate, it is in your eyes that we will demolish everything in your land. Only for us to get a call that the Chinese had started to fence the whole area and they destroyed all we had on the land,’’ she said.

Another land owner identified as Brother Seun, who had a poultry farm in the affected area, only came after being called to see bulldozers demolishing his fence and gate as Correspondents of NAN went round the area.

A retired Headmistress, Mrs. Kudirat Awoleye, told NAN correspondents that her coconut, kolanut, palm-trees and cocoa plantations which she inherited from her parents had been destroyed.

Awoleye said when she tried to stop them, she was whisked away by policemen and efforts were made by the community leaders to release her.

“For now, I do not have anything to leave for my children any more. I have nothing, I am retired, what can I do apart from farming?’’ she said.

When NAN visited the community which had a bad access road with repairs going on in some areas, it was calm, with no major economic activities noticed.

Also, it was observed that in the Ejila area, the Chinese investors had dug a motte (A mound forming the site of a castle or camp) to cut off residents from their lands and properties, but the owners of the land had filled a part of the motte to enable residents to access their villages.

When NAN visited the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone office, the Chinese investors refused its correspondents entry into their premises.

A Police officer guarding the premises, called one Mr Sebastian, who was said to be acting for Mr. Daniel Sheu, the company’s manager. who was said to be out of town.

Sebastine requested that NAN write a letter which would be considered before they would grant permission for interview on the matter.

Source: Punchng

Abuja Clubs Demolition, Arrest of Prostitutes Were Due To City Violations – FCDA

The Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) through its agencies, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Department of Development Control (DDC), Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), and Social Development Secretariat have stated the demolition of nightclubs – notably Caramelo Lounge – and the arrest of multiple ladies were as a result of city violations on the part of the victims.

The authorities made this known on Thursday while honouring the invitation of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at their office in Abuja to defend their actions.

The FCT Authority was petitioned at NHRC by a coalition of civil societies led by Amnesty International.

According to the Civil Societies Representative, Miss Ossai, they decided to petition FCTA because of what they described as cases of unlawful arrests and detention, sexual abuse and physical violence, gender discrimination and violation of fundamental human rights.

In his reaction, Umar Shuaibu, the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) Coordinator stood in firm defence of their actions because of the contravention of FCT land use regulations by the affected clubs.

Umar said that in spite of serving quit notice and contravention letters to the operators of the club since 2016, they failed to revert activities on the plot located at N0 630, TOS Benson Crescent, Utako District Abuja.

He noted that the plot was originally approved for building of a clinic to provide healthcare services for residents of the territory.

He said activities of the club contravened the provisions of Clause no. 10 of Certificate of Occupancy and Clause 10 of the conveyance letter of building plan.

Umar said there were complaints of noise pollution, insecurity and social disturbances written to AMMC by those in the neighbourhood and DSS on the negative impacts from the premises.

“The issue assumed a critical relevance not only because change of use is inimical to provisions of the Abuja Master Plan, but it has equally generated externalities.

“This culminates into noise pollution, on-street parking, insecurity, social vices and many others.

“These nuisances compromise the safety, comfort and convenience of the residents of the residential precinct”, he said.

He noted that For the purpose of clarity, the land use provision designated to accommodate lounge/night club activities is within a hotel plot.

“As most of us are already aware, we have night clubs operating in hotels like Hilton, Sheraton and other notable hotels within the city, who have abided by the law and run their clubs in a sound-proof room”, he said.

Also speaking on the issue of rape and abuse, Hajia Tani Umar, the Acting Head of Social Development Secretariat stated that there were no issues of such.

‘’I was with the task force team that went for the arrests, and I can assure that nobody was molested or sexually abused. I also made sure that the ladies were not only handed to the police but ordered their bail once someone came to surety them,’’ she said.

She also stated that the ladies who were arrested also violated city laws that regulate against prostitution, indecent dressing, crime and drugs.

‘’Some of the ladies confessed to prostitution, and some were even married women. We arrested a total of 72 persons including a male. Some of the ladies even came from rich homes, and some were students. Abuja is not a free zone for prostitution, drug and crime. This is why we are enforcing the laws that guide against such behaviours.’’

She added that the ladies have been taken to the city’s rehabilitation centre in Lugbe, where they would be rehabilitated, trained in skills and will be handed starter packs in whatever training they got in order to begin a new life where they can survive without resorting to prostitution, crime and drug.

The hearing was then moved into a closed door session by the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojokwu.

In his closing remarks, Ojukwu stated that in line with the complaints that were made against the city authorities, especially gender discrimination and human right violations, it is important that in the future, the authorities should try to mainstream human rights into governance.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

How Home Affordability Trends Impact The Rental Housing Market

As we move into the second quarter of 2019, many are predicting an increase in inventory of homes for sale as the year continues. Though moderate, experts are predicting a 7% increase in inventory of homes for sale in 2019. The majority of inventory gains thus far have been seen in the luxury home market in high-growth areas: think Seattle, San Jose, Boston and Nashville.

 

Even though an inventory increase makes for a good buyer’s market, buying a home in 2019 will be an expensive undertaking thanks to rising mortgage rates and increasing home prices. Mortgage rates are expected to hit 5.5% by the end of the year, with monthly mortgage payments rising up to 8%. Homeownership will be far fetched for many, including Gen Z, millennials and other first-time homebuyers.

 

So what impact will these trends have on the rental market? If you examine the simple laws of supply and demand, it seems to make sense that increased inventory will mean more people will buy homes and rental demand will decrease. However, it is a bit more complicated than that, and there are several factors at play that take don’t fit this simplistic equation. In fact, many renters just aren’t homebuyer material (yet). People continue to rent for a wide variety of reasons, such as:

• Down payments are big: Putting aside rising prices and mortgage rates, let’s look at the biggest financial obstacle to purchasing a home: the dreaded down payment. An average down payment for a home is 20% of the purchase price. If you take the median home price for the United States (around $230,000), this puts the down payment at a whopping $46,000. Many would be hard-pressed to come up with this kind of money to buy a home.

• Maintenance and repairs seem overwhelming: Just this spring, I’ve had to replace a built-in microwave, call in an appliance shop to fix the washing machine, dig up a faulty water line and replace outdoor stonework that was ravaged by the winter storms. Does this sound like a lot? It can seem daunting to some, and so they avoid shouldering the responsibility by renting and letting their landlord do the repairs.

 

• Flexibility: When you buy a home you are inevitably and unavoidably “tied down.” A friend of mine recently married a partner with a travel bug — she wanted to experience living in other countries for long periods of time. They bought a house anyway and it has caused friction between them because they don’t have the flexibility to move around, pursue new opportunities and have new experiences.

By Nathan Miller

Chicago Finds a Way to Improve Public Housing: Libraries

CHICAGO — Cabrini-Green, the Robert Taylor Homes: demolished years ago, Chicago’s most notorious projects continue to haunt the city, conjuring up the troubled legacy of postwar public housing in America.

By the 1970s, Washington wanted out of the public housing business, politicians blaming the system’s ills on poor residents and tower-in-the-park-style architecture, channeling tax breaks toward white flight and suburban sprawl. Now the nation’s richest cities invent all sorts of new ways not to solve the affordable housing crisis.

 

I recently visited three sites that the Chicago Housing Authority has just or nearly completed. These small, community-enhancing, public-private ventures, built swiftly and well, are the opposite of Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor. With a few dozen apartments each, they’re costlier per unit than the typical public housing developments, and they’re not going to make a big dent in a city with a dwindling population but a growing gap between the number of affordable apartments and the demand for them.

public housing

That said, they’re instructive. As Cabrini-Green and other isolated, troubled old mega-sites proved, bigger isn’t necessarily better. These are integrated works of bespoke architecture, their exceptional design central to their social and civic agenda.

And they share another distinctive feature, too: each project includes a new branch library (“co-location” is the term of art). The libraries are devised as outward-facing hubs for the surrounding neighborhoods, already attracting a mix of toddlers, retirees, after-school teens, job-seekers, not to mention the traditional readers, nappers and borrowers of DVDs.

Co-location is of course not a new idea. Other cities today link subsidized housing developments with libraries, New York included, but Chicago’s outgoing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has made a point of touting the concept, and seeing it through in ways other mayors haven’t.

He leaves office next week with his reputation still tainted by the uproar several years ago following the release of the video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The city’s downtown glistens but poorer residents south and west of downtown struggle with shuttered schools and unending gang violence.

These three new housing projects, on the city’s north and west sides, are clearly part of what Mr. Emanuel hopes will be his ultimate legacy. The projects mix public housing units with heavily-subsidized apartments and, in one case, market-rate ones.

 

Mr. Emanuel talked often as mayor about the value of public space and good design. People don’t only need affordable apartments, as he has said. Healthy neighborhoods are not simply collections of houses. They also require things like decent transit, parks, stores, playgrounds and libraries.

Mr. Emanuel extended the city’s subway system, network of bike lanes and popular Riverwalk. He completed the elevated, long-discussed 606, Chicago’s version of New York’s High Line; brought marquee stores like Whole Foods and Mariano’s to grocery-starved neighborhoods like Englewood, and parks like La Villita, replacing a former Superfund site, to communities like Little Village.

He also commissioned leading local architects to design a string of small, civic gems, including two boathouses by Studio Gang and a new branch library in Chinatown by Brian Lee, from the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which I have stopped into on a couple of occasions. It’s a neighborhood linchpin and landmark.

Mr. Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who tore down what remained of Cabrini and began to replace old, debased developments with New Urbanist-style mixed-income ones, gave Chicago Millennium Park and loads of planted flowers. He built cookie-cutter library branches, police and fire stations. I toured the Edgewater library one morning, a two-story, brick-and-concrete box, about as inviting from the outside as a motor vehicle bureau office and ostensibly indistinguishable from one.

The cookie-cutter model was conceived to lower building costs and insure a kind of architectural equivalence across diverse neighborhoods. Library officials tell me the one-size-fits-all design invariably needed some tweaking, from site to site, so it didn’t turn out to be especially economical. And the common denominator obviously did nothing to beautify Chicago or celebrate communities with distinct personalities and desires.

Mr. Emanuel adopted a different model. Capitalizing on the city’s architectural heritage, he touted striking new civic architecture as an advertisement for the city and a source of community pride. Distinguished civic buildings in underserved neighborhoods constituted their own brand of equity. Good architecture costs more but it pays a dividend over time.

The three new housing projects partner the Chicago Housing Authority with the Chicago Public Library system and two private developers, Evergreen Real Estate Group and Related Companies. Working with Eugene E. Jones, Jr., who runs the Housing Authority, Mr. Emanuel persuaded federal officials that public libraries could be co-located with public housing projects without putting federal housing subsidies at risk.

That freed up streams of money for the co-location idea, which was partly strategic: the library helped sway community groups resistant to public housing in their neighborhoods.

But co-location was also just plain good urban planning. In cities across the country, branch libraries, which futurologists not long ago predicted would be made obsolete by technology, have instead morphed into indispensable and bustling neighborhood centers and cultural incubators, offering music lessons, employment advice, citizenship training, entrepreneurship classes and English-as-a-second-language instruction. They are places with computers and free broadband access. (One in three Chicagoans lacks ready access to high-speed internet.)

 

For longtime neighborhood residents and tenants of the new housing projects, the branches at the same time provide common ground in a city siloed by race and class.

 

A city-run architecture competition in 2016 attracted submissions from 32 local firms. The winners were John Ronan, the architect who did the beautiful Poetry Foundation headquarters in downtown Chicago; Mr. Lee from Skidmore; and Ralph Johnson, who also designed the O’Hare international terminal, from the local office of Perkins + Will.

 

The libraries share real estate with the apartments but maintain separate entrances. The apartment blocks are designed to command views from a distance; the glassed-in libraries, to command the street.

 

Mr. Johnson’s project, the $34 million Northtown Affordable Apartments and Public Library, near Warren Park, is a four-story snaking structure, shaped like a twisty garden hose, trimmed in fluorescent green, backing onto a historic bungalow district, along a stretch of avenue that features a Jiffy Lube and Mobil station. It’s meant to be, and is, a beacon and an eye-catcher.

The building’s upper floors include 44 one-bedroom apartments for seniors. They perch atop a bright, glazed, double-height, 16,000 square foot library, which curves around an interior, teardrop-shaped garden, the library’s roof doubling as a terrace for the housing tenants. The apartments I saw looked great, with floor-to-ceiling windows. A community garden in the back helps negotiate the tricky transition between the bungalows and the busy avenue.

 

Mr. Ronan’s Independence Library and Apartments, in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood, a $33.4 million project, tells a similar story. Evergreen is again the developer. The apartments, one- and two-bedrooms, as at Northtown, are all subsidized for 44 seniors and the library occupies the ground floor. The six-story apartment block is a vivid, snowy white tower with rounded corners, clad in corrugated metal, punctuated by multicolored balconies.

 

The library juts toward the street. It’s a soaring, two-level affair, with a music studio and makers’ workshop tucked into a corner, towering concrete columns, bleacher seats and a mezzanine facing a big, teak-lined roof deck that is accessible from the apartments. The place is welcoming and richly detailed. Light pours in from three directions. Patterned wallpapers, among other touches of color, soften a vocabulary of exposed and striated concrete, with the corrugated metal on the outside serving as radiant paneling for distributing heat inside.

Mr. Lee’s project, the Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library, encountered the fiercest community resistance. The blowback ended up reducing the size of the apartment tower and stepping its mass back from the street.

public housing

The $41 million project includes 73 apartments, seven of them market-rate. Related is the developer. At seven stories, clad in Aztec-brick and chestnut-colored panels, the building at once stands out from but also echoes aspects of the neighborhood. There are two floors with glassed-in, single-loaded corridors, the sort of perk you mostly find in high-end residential developments. A double-height library, with a curtain wall and bright orange acoustic baffles, anchors the street.

READ ALSO: SHELTER AFRIQUE TO TRAIN CONTRACTORS

When I stopped by, moms clustered with toddlers in a bright corner of the library. The place was quiet, dignified and cheerful. Upstairs, views onto empty lots suggested more development coming. The area is gentrifying.

Like the other two, the project seemed both bulwark and boon. This may not be the only way to solve America’s affordable housing problem, but it’s a start.

By Michael Kimmelman

‘Bamboo Industry Can Earn Nigeria $22bn Annually’

Bamboo Industry has been identified as a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria which is itching to diversify its sources of revenue especially from monolithic oil economy to agriculture which was the country’s economic mainstay in the ‘60s.

 

Due to its wide range of uses Bamboo is considered an excellent source of wealth and prosperity both from domestic and export market and proper harnessing of the industry can earn Nigeria USD22b, from studies conducted by experts.

 

Confirming this aggregated industry wide study, Abdulkadir Hassan, a development consultant with interest in green economy and renewable energy, said in the past it was called the poor man’s timber but through research and innovation this perception has changed as it has contributed a lot to the global economy.

 

In an interview with LEADERSHIP, Hassan said today China alone makes about USD50b from bamboo and bamboo products and produces bamboo products for both domestic and export markets. “The market in China has been stimulated over time especially in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as its farming was encouraged through policies and incentives.

 

It was used in the afforestation and reforestation of degraded land and incentives in the form of government patronage and subsidies were offered to the farmers. Subsequently after 1998 due to devastating flood, logging was banned and the industry had to use bamboo and related alternatives. This was how the market was developed to the extent that China is now making much from the green gold”, he explained.

The demand in India is about 30 million metric tons per annum and is expected to grow significantly especially with the setting up of National Bamboo Mission, which led to establishment of Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre to develop bamboo value chain for improved livelihood and this is similar to technology park or incubation facility, said Hassan who is also a consultant/adviser on research and strategy to the Coalition of the Northern States Chambers of Commerce, an umbrella platform of the chambers of commerce in the 19 northern states and Abuja. According to him, its economic impacts are many.

In the housing sector for example apart from providing sustainable and affordable housing, it creates chain effects across all economic sectors. Kenya is taking advantage of this as it planned to construct 500,000 housing units using bamboo and other related agricultural waste materials by 2030, in line with the country’s Big Four Agenda aimed at making Kenya an upper-middle income nation.

Considering the fact that over 200 million Africans live in substandard shelter with no access to basic services, bamboo can be used as an option to minimise this challenge. Kenya has also established Bamboo Policy 2019 so as to optimize economic impacts from bamboo.

bamboo

He said that Bamboo offers an excellent medium for empowerment and inclusive growth and development and is capable of creating jobs, wealth creation opportunities and supporting enterprise development.

 

He said: “There are about 10 million bamboo farmers in China and over 35 million jobs. Rwanda has recently keyed into bamboo empowerment programme through china Aid Bamboo Project; the project has engaged about 2400 women who are being trained to use bamboo to produce a number of products include household items, kitchen utensils, decorations, bags and so on.’’

Unfortunately, he observed that despite its inherent economic value, Bamboo industry in Nigeria remains undeveloped and untapped due to low level of awareness. “However, as more Nigerians get to know about this important plant, the industry would grow rapidly, taking into accounts its socio-economic and environmental benefits.

Because of its importance it is being given special names in places where there is adequate awareness, such names include ‘green gold’, ‘green resource and miracle plant amongst others,” he said. Bamboo is a tropical and temperate plant and also grows in cold areas and belongs to grass family and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.

 

There are over 1400 species of bamboo globally, this makes it possible to determine what species to planted in any place. In fact some species are capable of growing up to 90 centimeters in a day. Bamboo can be harvested between 3 – 5 years; thereafter it continued to regenerate for about 70 years.

This implies one would continue to harvest for a long period, what an attractive investment. Hassan said the plant is mostly found in the forest areas but it can grow in almost all parts of the country, with the largest reserves include Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers and Ebonyi amongst others in the South.

 

Other large reserves are found in Niger, Kogi, Taraba, Federal Capital Territory, Benue and Nasarawa. It also occurs in Kebbi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Borno amongst others. The ones in the south are thicker and shorter and those found in the north are slimmer and longer and this implied that it can be planted in all parts of the country, as with good practice appropriate species suitable different parts could be used, he added.

He said that there are over 10,000 documented products that can be derived from bamboo, as Nigerians get understand this, the industry would be stimulated, but due to low level of awareness the farming practice is yet to be popular, as most of the reserves occur in the wildness.

 

“So the value chain is yet to be optimized, as the present level of value addition is micro-fraction compared to what is obtainable in Asia, Latin America and even Europe”, he said. LEADERSHIP reports that Bamboo has a wide range of applications across sectors. In the past the uses were considered traditional but with the increasing level of awareness it has made inroad into knowledge based system through research and innovation.

 

The uses cut across all the basic needs of life; shelter, food and clothing and due to its diverse uses, globally over 2.5 billion persons benefit from bamboo value chain both direct and indirect impacts, according to Hassan. “It serves as sustainable and alternative raw material for many industries. For example in Bangladesh alone it is used as input for over 45,000 SMEs as well as a number of big players across industries.

 

It played role in many key inventions; for instance it was used in the development of the first set of air planes, used in the invention first light bulb by Thomas Edison as well as other scientific research activities”, he stated. Also, Bamboo offers more cost effective and eco-friendly building materials thereby addressing the issue of sustainability, he disclosed adding that “Over 1b persons are said to be living in bamboo shelter in the world, mostly in Asia.

READ ALSO: OVER TAXATION, OTHERS RAVAGE NATION’S HOUSING SECTOR – EXPERTS

The housing sector is responsible for about one third of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 40 per cent of global resources. Using bamboo in building and construction would eventually minimize this major challenge, in addition to making access to housing more affordable.

Already innovative architectural designs and concept are fast emerging on the use of bamboo to develop basic and complex buildings, mass housing and industrial projects. Such innovative initiatives would help attaining SDGs, Habitat III New Urban Agenda and Paris Agreement 2015.” In agriculture it is used in fencing, support stands, agro-forestry, soil quality enhancement, production of bio-fertilizer, drying, packaging and so on.

bamboo

It is also used in the fabrication of agricultural implements and equipment. Even the farming practice of bamboo is also very attractive. With the development of its value chain more farmers would key into its business. Also there exist opportunities in establishing nurseries; in some places even with less than a hectare one can make tens of thousands of dollars from the sale of seedlings.

Hassan further said that in some countries the seedling cost as much as USD30 per pot while in Nigeria it goes for about N300-500, adding, “For example one quarter of an acre can be used to produce 2400 containers, at USD30 each one can earn USD72,000 and in Nigeria at N300 per container that gives N720,000.00.

Another example of innovation is in the making of greenhouse, conventional greenhouse costs about N3 – N5m on average but the alternative one made from bamboo requires about 15-20 per cent of that amount.

By CHIKA IZUORA

San Jose leaders look to speed up Housing in North San Jose

In an effort to fast track 8,000 new apartments in the burgeoning North San Jose area, city officials on Tuesday will propose consolidating four development phases into two – a bold move to quickly get more shovels in the ground.

San Jose in 2018 adopted a “Housing Crisis Workplan” to lay out the city’s goal of tackling the devastating housing shortage by building 15,000 market-rate and 10,000 affordable units by 2022.

Now, city officials are pushing to build 8,000 new housing units in one of the city’s hottest development areas, North San Jose, with 20 per cent of them being affordable. North San Jose has long been eyed as a development hotbed, and city officials in 2005 adopted a plan that calls for developing 26.7 million square feet of office or industrial space, 32,000 housing units, 2.7 million square feet of commercial space and 1,000 hotel rooms in the area.

As the housing crisis rages on, city officials are now looking to get some of those housing units built faster.

“To accelerate housing development within the timeframe necessary to meet (the) City’s housing goals, staff is developing a focused proposal that takes the simplest path to advance housing entitlement and generate funding for supportive regional transportation infrastructure,” Economic Development Director Kim Walesh, Planning Director Rosalynn Hughey and Transportation Director John Ristow wrote in a joint memo.

Merging the four housing development stages into two phases will fast-track housing development hindered by transportation improvements, city officials said. Some required transit enhancements stalled due to lack of funding, and without ample progress, the city cannot move forward with building additional housing.

As housing production in North San Jose ramps up, officials also want to fast track-transit improvements based on observed travel patterns, funding availability and project readiness. According to the memo from Walsh, Hughey and Ristow, the city has already collected $55 million for North San Jose transportation improvements.

Changes in the plan, however, have reignited concern from one neighbouring city.

In 2006, the county and the cities of Santa Clara and Milpitas filed legal action over the plan, citing concern about the lack of traffic congestion relief measures for county expressways and neighbouring cities. The cities and county settled by requiring San Jose and Santa Clara County to contribute funds for transportation improvements.

Now, the city of Santa Clara fears that settlement may be in jeopardy.

“On March 22, 2019, the City received a letter from the City of Santa Clara asking for clarification of the proposed amendments and concern with the scope and timing of improvements included in the settlement agreement, and raised the issue that the 2006 settlement agreement may need to be updated based on proposed changes,” Walsh, Hughey and Ristow wrote in the memo.

City officials plan to meet with Santa Clara city officials in the following weeks.

Spending grant funding from HUD

Housing officials on Tuesday are slated to present to the City Council their plan for spending $14 million in funds from the federal government to help fight the city’s housing crisis.

Every year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires cities to submit an action plan for how officials will continue to implement a broad five-year plan on the city’s housing needs.

In 2015, the San Jose City Council prioritized four goals: increasing and preserving affordable housing opportunities, responding to homelessness and its impacts on the community, strengthening neighbourhoods and promoting fair housing.

The plan for 2019-2020 – which will be adopted in June after including input from the council – allocates the $14 million in the following way:

$1.65 million for programs that provide emergency housing repair services for low-income individuals.

8 million for programs to construct and rehabilitate “community-serving infrastructure and buildings.”

$1.4 million to fund agencies that provide services to the homeless and seniors, among other vulnerable populations.

$10 million to help create new affordable housing projects. Some of these apartments will be for formerly homeless residents.

$2.25 million for rent subsidies to assist formerly homeless individuals in affording market-rate apartments.

$1.1 million in Housing for Persons with AIDS funds for rent subsidies and supportive services.

$755,000 to fund homelessness prevention programs and to conduct outreach to homeless individuals.

The City Council meets at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday inside the council chambers inside City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

AIHS Seeks Partnership with 9th National Assembly on Housing, Mortgage Bills

Nigeria’s flagship show on housing and construction, popularly known as the Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) has called on incoming members of the 9th National Assembly to partner with the show with regards to the passage of necessary housing and mortgage bills that will positively affect the country’s housing sector in a way that it will be more attractive to investors.

The 13th edition of the show is starting from 23rd to 26th July 2019 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

This call was made by the Show’s convener, Festus Adebayo, who believes that the incoming assembly has a lot of responsibilities ahead of it when it comes to addressing the policies necessary for a vibrant housing sector in Nigeria.

‘’The Abuja International Housing Show is an assembly of housing and construction policy experts from around the world, suggesting ways to fix the crisis that have over the years prevented Nigeria from addressing its surplus housing deficit,’’ he said.

Speaking further, he said that a number of laws like the land use act, the foreclosure law, the NHF act, mortgage bills among others require urgent attention from the Nigerian legislature in order to remove the obstacles that have always been a problem to providing affordable housing in the country.

‘’At the show, attending members of the national assembly will have an opportunity to widen their scope about industry and public expectations when it comes to these laws. It will help inform their decisions on what they should amend or pass immediately. The public have always emphasised on the need for wide public consultations when it comes to these laws, hence, the Abuja International Housing Show is presenting a free platform and opportunity for that to happen. Members of the national assembly will be able to meet with a wide range of industry stakeholders from Nigeria and beyond, compare notes and become more aware of the most critical issues and how best to handle them,’’ he emphasised.

According to him, the agenda here is to engage them for a discussion on how to make housing and mortgage bills a priority for their assembly.

“The engagement will be an all-inclusive panel where they will share in a rapport with stakeholders on how to pass outstanding bills, amend ones that are defective and carry out pro-housing legislations.”

Apart from existing laws Adebayo mentioned that the legislators will also develop new ideas from the Show about new areas of legislation with regards to housing and construction in Nigeria. ‘’There will be panels focusing on a range of issues from affordable housing schemes to eco-friendly buildings to mortgage finance strategies to the role of cooperatives in housing and more. All these key areas of housing can be a major source of legislation,’’ he said.

The Abuja International Housing Show has a proven record of contributing to the growth of housing development in Nigeria and Africa. With over 40, 000 participants from Nigeria and over 15 countries, 400+ exhibitors, 30 international speakers and opportunities for sales, the show has been recognised and endorsed by relevant industry stakeholders as the biggest platform for tackling housing deficit in Nigeria. The show has through its programs and quality attendance been able to generate some of the best ideas for scaling housing demand and supply in Nigeria.

The show presents the biggest advocacy forum. Housing policies are often introduced by government whose tenures are largely limited, but the Abuja Housing Show is the only regular and permanent housing platform in Nigeria and Africa where old and new ideas on housing and construction are developed, adapted and presented to relevant authorities for implementation.

Over the years, the show has been able to provide opportunities for home seekers to access affordable mortgage plans and even Rent-to-Own Schemes. Every year, over 5000 home seekers benefit from the cheap housing plans that are retailed by estate developers and even government housing projects at the show. These offers are usually limited to the show and home seekers know that there is no other way they could have gotten access to such flexible and relaxed payment plans.

At the end of every show, after thorough deliberations by Real Estate Managers, Industry CEOs, Mortgage Finance Executives and Government Officials, there is a communique drawn up, encapsulating the challenges and the solutions or action plans.

These communiques are usually adopted by the government – federal and state – and private organisations in the planning and execution of housing policies/projects which have so far aided them in the efficient provision of more houses.

Even after the shows, stakeholders continue to make reference to the communique in order to achieve maximum results.

This year’s edition which will play host to over 200 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from varied firms and institutions in the housing, construction and business industries across Africa and the world will be declared open by the Vice-President of Nigeria and will also be attended by top government executives, including ministers, governors and commissioners of housing.

By Ojonugbwa Felix Ugboja

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