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Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

For a century and a half, women have been proving their passion and talent for design and architecture in a male dominated profession. It is a paradox that even in the 21st century, architecture can still be a challenging career path for women, and gender inequality continues to be a cause of concern.

However, there are female architects who are challenging every day the profession’s boys’ club and have made a profound impact on architecture as we know it today. The list, of course, is short and many important names may be left out, but here 10 of them you should know.

Lina Bo Bardi

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Lina Bo Bardi

Dona Lina dedicated her work to a mission: to explore the social possibilities of design and promote a new way of collective life. She searched for strong design concepts and relied on a simple formal vocabulary, but with a parallel expressive use of materials that highlighted her sensibility. For her, architecture should be considered “not as built work, but as possible means to be and to face different situations”.  In April 1989, at age 74, the architect was honored with the first exhibition of her work, from the same university that denied her a permanent teaching position 30 years earlier: Universidade de São Paolo.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

SESC Pompeia Leisure Center, São Paulo, 1977–86, Theater Foyer. Photo: Zeuler R. Lima

One of her most emblematic buildings is the SESC Pompeia, realized in 1982, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. It is a converted factory, with three huge concrete towers, featuring aerial walkways and asymmetrical portholes in the place of windows. With its radical design and the almost brutal approach of the industrial cell, Bo Bardi brought to life her vision for the world, what she called a “socialist experiment”.

Maya Lin

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an architect, sculptor, and land artist. With nearly 30 years of practice, she has completed a series of projects including large scale art installations, residential and institutional architecture and memorials. Her work is emphasized on nature and sustainability followed by minimal design and her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape. She draws inspiration for her sculpture and architecture from culturally diverse sources, including Japanese gardens, Hopewell Indian earthen mounds, and works by American earthworks artists of the 60s and 70s.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

At age 21, she became the youngest architect and first woman, to design a memorial on the National Mall. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a two-acre plot framed by a wall, displaying the names of all the American soldiers lost in conflict. Her design was considered controversial and insulting, “a black scar” as a Vietnam veteran described it, and after many delays, it was finally built in 1982. Today it is recognized as the definition of a modern approach to war, with its minimal, unsentimental and clear-eyed concept.

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Odile Decq

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Odile Decq

Odile Decq is a French architect and academic who was awarded the 2016 Jane Drew Prize for being “a creative powerhouse, spirited breaker of rules and advocate for equality.” She is the director of the Paris firm, Studio Odile Decq with projects from art galleries and museums to social housing and infrastructure. The French Goth as she is often called, made a radical entrance to the scenery of architecture, introducing a new high-tech language spiced up with the deep red color she uses in most of her buildings.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

The Opera Garnier Restaurant. Photo: Roland Halbe

Her project Phantom Restaurant in Paris is a study in colliding temporalities. With red and white biomorphic forms she experiments with surfaces that bend and undulate. A red carpet flows down the steps of the main staircase dramatically, running under the tables until it arrives at the edge of the glass facade. The concept of this design was to create a temporary removable space that respects the existing monument, the Opera Garnier.

Amale Andraos

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Amale Andraos. Photo: Raymond Adams

Amale Andraos is Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) and co-founder of WORKac, a New York-based architectural and urban practice with international reach. WORKac is focused on re-imagining architecture at the intersection of the urban, the rural and the natural. Embracing reinvention and collaboration with other fields, they imagine alternate scenarios for the future of cities. Andraos is committed to research and publications. Her work has recently explored the question of representation by re-examining the concept of the ‘Arab City.’

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Smart School, Irkutsk. Courtesy of Workac

In the project Smart School, the WORKac explore the possibility of a unique community dedicated to a new concept of education by intertwining landscape and program. The park generates food for the community and recycles its waste. As the children’s relationship with learning changes, their relationship with landscape also changes. The project creates a series of diverse experiences, combining architecture and landscape, public and private spaces focusing on a sustainable energy strategy.

Momoyo Kaijima

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Momoyo Kaijima

Momoyo Kaijima is the co-found of the Tokyo-based architecture office Atelier Bow-Wow, one of Japan’s leading firms. The firm is well known for its domestic and cultural architecture and its research exploring the urban conditions of micro, ad hoc architecture. With her partner Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, they have been experimenting with design theories that introduce a new vocabulary to the urban studies and new concepts for the public space, such as architectural behaviorology and micro-public-space. Their projects range from houses to public and commercial buildings and public artworks, in Japan as well as in Europe and the USA.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Split Machiya, Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Manuel Oka

Split Machiya is a private house they created in Tokyo for a couple and a single woman, which is composed of two mirrored structures connected with a central courtyard. They were influenced by the aesthetics of the Machiya, a traditional Japanese building type from the Edo period, and used their minimal approach to creating a fully functioning house in very limited space.

Sharon Davis

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Sharon Davis

Founder and principal of Sharon Davis Design, she is an award-winning practitioner whose work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of design. She believes that the success of the designs are measured by the degree to which they expand access to the fundamental human right to social justice, economic empowerment and a healthy sustainable environment. Her vision of architecture is buildings that can alter the future of communities.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Women’s Opportunity Center, Rwanda. Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

Her philosophy on social design came to life with her project Women’s Opportunity Center in Rwanda. The purpose was to create a forward-thinking educational and community center in Kayonza to train and educate local women through farming. The main idea was to use the form of a vernacular Rwandan village as the organizing principle: a series of human-scaled pavilions clustered to create security and community for up to 300 women. The project also includes a demonstration farm that helps women produce and market their own goods.

Neri Oxman

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Neri Oxman

Neri Oxman is an American-Israeli designer, architect, artist, and founder of the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab. Her work embodies environmental design and digital morphogenesis, with shapes and properties that are determined by their context. She coined the phrase “material ecology” to define her work, applying findings from biology and computer science to architecture, using 3D printing and fabrication techniques. Oxman sees the world and environment as organisms, changing regularly and responding to use, that’s why she is mostly inspired by biological shapes and textures.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Silk Pavillion. Courtesy of Mediated Matter Group

In her project Silk Pavillion, she explores ways of overcoming the existing limitations of additive manufacturing at architectural scales. She used a robotic arm to imitate the way a silkworm deposits silk to build its cocoon, creating 26 silk panels that formed a dome suspended from the ceiling

Shahira Fahmy

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Shahira Fahmy

Fahmy is an architect whose work strives to make a balance between new spatial concepts and existing context: culture, tradition, urban morphology. The Cairo-based architect is leading the way for Egyptian architecture by demonstrating that architectural design can and should elevate the public realm, with a holistic approach that combines contextual analysis, playful experimentation, and an ethos of social responsibility.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Block 36, Cairo. Courtesy of Shahira H. Fahmy Architects

Block 36 is a block of residential apartments inspired by the patterns and forms of urbanized agricultural plots. Security and the separation between public and private areas are important social and cultural issues that have been taken into consideration for the layout of gates and boundaries.

Amanda Levete

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Amanda Levete. Courtesy of Peter Guenzel

Amanda Levete is a RIBA Stirling Prize winning architect, founder, and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. AL_A’s approach to design balances the intuitive with the strategic, restless research, innovation, collaboration and attention to detail. They explore constantly the application of new materials and techniques on architecture and design and look for new ways to create significant and positive impact beyond the building, on the community and city context.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

EDP Cultural Centre, Lisbon. Courtesy of AL_A

The EDP Foundation’s Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology in Lisbon, explores the convergence of architecture, technology and contemporary art as a field of cultural practice. It is a building for the people of Lisbon, for cultural visitors and for tourists that defy distinction between public space and building. The building itself is reimagined as a landscape for encounters between people, between visitors and ideas, and between the city and its citizens.

Kazuyo Sejima

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Kazuyo Sejima. Photo: Giorgio Zucchiatti. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

Sejima, a partner in the architecture practice SANAA, is known for designs with clean modernist elements such as slick, clean, and shiny surfaces made of glass, marble, and metals. She is concerned with exploring the cognitive possibilities of architecture, how the built work can impact the way in which we know our world and ourselves and the processes by which knowledge and understanding are acquired through experience. She also develops a particular interest in exploring the relationship between the inside and outside.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Photo: Iwan Baan

In her design for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, she uses a  quite minimal scheme: a series of stacked cubes in an offset arrangement that gives to the building dynamicity and an attracting shape, being different but similar to the near constructions.

Source: arch2o

How Lagos Traffic Robbers Unleash Terror on Commuters

As I tuned in to Traffic Radio 96.1 fm to listen to a live programme, that rainy Friday morning 28 June, which to me was the number one ritual, performed on driving out of the house in order to understand the situation of Lagos roads and to guide my trip, many commuters were calling in on the live programme to share their travel experiences within Lagos metropolis.

One striking thing about the programme that morning, which hosted Taiwo Olufemi Salaam, permanent secretary, ministry of transportation of Lagos State, was the complaints of many of the callers about the growing security concern in Lagos, especially in heavy traffic areas.

Most importantly, was the testimony of one of the callers (name withheld), who gave account of how robbers shot and killed one of his friends between Iyana-Isolo and Cele axis of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

According to the caller, the horrible incident occurred on that fateful night Liverpool FC defeated FC Barcelona at the last season’s Champions League semi-finals.

He said the deceased left his office that fateful night in his Toyota Corona car together with one of his brothers. On getting to Iyana-Isolo and Cele axis of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, there was heavy traffic congestion on the road such that the deceased had to go to Iyana-Isolo Bridge to turn and join the service lane, but that did not solve the problem.

“The traffic became alarming such that it was on standstill. This made the deceased to come down from his car to ascertain the cause of the traffic. Unknown to him, some robbers riding on a bike popularly known as ‘okada’ approached him and shot him pointblank on the stomach for no just reason,” the caller narrated.

Narrating further, the caller reported that it was the sound of the gunshot that woke the brother of his riding with the deceased, who was sleeping in the car when the incident occurred. Other commuters, who were trapped in the same traffic, deserted their cars and fled at the sound of the gunshot leaving the deceased and his brother.

“The only thing the deceased was able to say was, ‘take me to the hospital because I was speaking with the last strength in me’. The people around, who returned after the robbers had left, managed to take him from the traffic to a nearby hospital, where he was rejected but on getting to another hospital that accepted him, he was pronounced dead on arrival. That was how a promising young man lost his life for no just reason,” the caller added.

The pathetic story of the above mentioned young man, who lost his life to traffic robbers, was one among many of such incidents, which commuters experience while travelling or trapped in traffic on Lagos roads.

In Lagos today, there is rising spate of insecurity on Lagos roads perpetrated day and night by traffic robbers, who seize traffic opportunities to rob innocent commuters and motorists of their belongings.

This pathetic development has attracted public outcry as many Lagos residents, especially those living in Lagos suburbs and other remote communities have called all security operatives and the state government to come to their rescue.

Mile 2 axis of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway has for years been a major operating spot for traffic robbers. In many instances, the robbers approach motorists ordering them to wind down, and give them money or risk forceful attacks particularly for those who try to struggle with them.

However, many others have had their glasses chartered by these miscreants even as some have been attacked at gunpoint or with other harmful weapons at one time or the other.

BDSUNDAY discovered that all roads in Lagos State, the presumed ‘mega city’, is usually characterised by heavy traffic congestion largely due to high influx of vehicular movements and bad roads occasioned by presence of potholes and gullies, even on major roads, including some of the bridges.

Many Lagos roads usually record high traffic congestion during rainy seasons and that comes with heavy flooding on the roads as a result of poor drainage system and illegal blockage of canals.

A few days ago, one Ekene Okoro, a Lagos-based journalist, was attacked at Cele bus stop on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. The account, which was tagged ‘My Experience: Robbed in the Rain,’ he narrated that at exactly 9:35pm, Wednesday, June 26, “I finally came face to face with dare-devil Lagos traffic robbers.”

“Until now, I had only been privy to listen to cases involving colleagues, close friends/relatives and a few friends on this platform (social media). I had just dropped off my colleague and friend at Iyana Itire bus stop on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. For the very second time since nearly a year, I dropped him off every night, I felt pity for him. Reason because the rain was pummeling hard, fast and furious. I had no umbrella to spare him, but he assured me that he would be fine and home in no time.

“As I drove off, driving became a little bit harder, the rain covered my windscreen and even my wipers could do little to help the situation. The construction work by Hitech on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway main lane inward Mile 2, compelled all vehicles approaching Cele Express bus-stop to negotiate to the service lane in order to continue their journey. I had become familiar with the route. So, it was neither a problem, even in the downpour.

“With less than 200 metres from Cele bus-top very close to PM Fuel Station, a little traffic had built up, perhaps, caused by the rain and a few cars driving on the opposite direction. I kept to the lane on the left, really for no reason but for the fact that I felt it would move faster.”

“While enjoying a solemn gospel track, two young guys, perhaps in their twenties, approached from the opposite direction of the road and stopped right in front of my car. The vehicle in front was a commercial Tata Bus; hence, they needed the next private vehicle to perpetrate their nefarious intentions.

“One of them hollered, ‘Oga wind down your glass or I go break am’, brandishing an old-fashioned machete. I had last seen a sample like that in my village a few years ago. The other had an old dane pistol. I had seen a few in some Nollywood series.

“Immediately, I complied. ‘Oya bring the money, bring your phone’, the two robbers barked at me. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for me, I had only N1, 800 in the hand-rest of my car. I offered them the cash and my Tecno phone. They were unimpressed. ‘Oga come down jor’, they ordered me, preferring to conduct the ultimate search themselves.

“Flashing lights from the cars at the rear, perhaps gave away my watch as one instructed me to take it off my wrist, while the other continued the frantic search, scattering my documents and papers in the pigeon hole of my car.

“Done with me, they ordered me to move. At this point, I felt they wanted to use me as a bait to raid other vehicles behind. The rain kept pouring, there I was, barefooted (I had taken off my shoes earlier to free my legs a bit), walking in the rain. I felt like laughing, it seems like a scene in a movie, but it was real and I was the main character.

“As soon as I saw that they were distracted with their next victim; the first thought was to run far away from the scene, second thought was to head back to my car and zoom off. I listened to the second thought. I sneaked back to my car, approaching from the front and hoped to jump in and zoom off. Alas! They had taken my key as a collateral damage. My car needed to be motionless in order to create artificial traffic and trap more victims,” the victim narrated.

“Realising this, I stood by my car, hands akimbo, watching as the boys had a field day moving from car to car. Some put up a fight, some complied like me. Those who resisted had their windows shattered. Satisfied, they made their way to the other side of the road to the waiting arms of an okada rider, perhaps, the third man in the team.

“At this point, I summoned courage and approached them. ‘Bros, what of my key na’, I asked. I beckoned again, this time speaking their native language. One searched his pocket for it and offered to throw it to me than have me, approach them. I collected my keys and continued my journey with too many thoughts at that point racing through my mind,” the victim added.

According to him, the experience was unbelievable even though he had really lost nothing to them, except some memorable videos, recordings, photos gathered in the last four years, especially that of his family that were stored on his phone.

Apart from Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, axis such as Iponri-Alaka-Eko Bridge and Ijora-Apapa Wharf, known for its notorious traffic congestion, is popular spot for miscreants who perpetrate crime against innocent commuters.

In his own case, Idowu Johnson (not real name) a Lagos-based banker, was riding home with two of his colleagues one fateful night. One of his colleagues occupied the passenger seat in the front while the second person occupied the seat directly behind the passenger seat.

The second colleague was on call when they drove out of their office in Apapa after work. Owing to a traffic snarl on the bridge shortly after Leventis towards the Ijora Bridge, Johnson was forced to slow down. About 10 minutes into the traffic, two uncoordinated coarsed male voices were heard, saying, “bring am, bring that phone,” that was the voices of two bad boys, who approached the vehicle and ordered the person behind the passenger seat to give them her phone.

It was at that point that the lady tried to roll up the glass to prevent them access into the car. Then, one of the boys used a stone and shattered the glass, and eventually made away with the lady’s hand bag containing her phones, identification card, ATM card and some other of her belongings without any reasonable cash.

When Johnson’s car was being robbed by the two miscreants, although there were passers-by and bystanders, no one challenged the thieves; everyone minded their businesses such that none of them made any effort to rescue the victims from the hoodlums or prevented the attack.

This is always the case and fate of any commuter, that falls victim of traffic robbers in Lagos as people rarely make effort to help others in such a situation. It is always, a matter of ‘To your tent O Israel.” In Lagos, traffic robbery occurs mostly in places with bad roads like the many incidents recorded on Apapa axis.

Recently, there was an ugly incident at Oshodi, when some traffic robbers, who initially feigned to be beggars, dispossessed some ladies of their cash and other personal effects.

The most intriguing aspect of the sad story was that one of the robbers forcefully removed a wedding ring from the finger of one of the ladies and swallowed it. He later confessed that, that was his method and that after swallowing such rings, he would go to a safe place and vomit them.

The suspect, 19-year-old Taofeek Adebayo, was arrested by the men of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command at Oshodi-Oke together with his accomplice, 20-year old Toheeb Tijani, shortly after dispossessing two ladies in a grey Sienna SUV of a gold earring and a set of wedding rings.

Similarly, one Emeka Eze, who was driving alone from his house in Surulere to Apapa, was robbed at a gunpoint by two bad boys on Alaka-Eko Bridge, one morning that his car broke down on top of the Bridge.

Narrating his experience, Eze told BDSUNDAY that on his way to his office that morning, his car developed battery fault and suddenly stopped on top of Alaka-Eko Bridge.

“As the car stopped, I came down from the vehicle, opened my bonnet to realise that it was the battery of my car that was bad. I had three of my phones with me including my ipad. I took one of my phones and called a friend, who at that time was also driving towards Apapa. He told me to stay put and wait for him as he was somewhere around Surulere. That was how I sat in the vehicle with my car bonnet open, waiting for my colleague.

“In a twinkle of an eye, I sighted two mean–looking young boys coming towards me from the opposite direction of the bridge. On seeing them, I told myself that this was no friendly visit judging by their appearance. On reaching where I parked, one of them pulled up his shirt and showed me a gun tucked into his trousers.

“He immediately issued an instruction, ‘cooperate, and bring out your phones and money if you don’t want us to harm you.’ I did not attempt to struggle with them and they collected all my phones including my ipad, ransacked the whole of my vehicle to ensure that nothing was left behind. They even collected the little money I had on me that very morning and zoomed off on a waiting okada.

“When this incident was happening, many other cars were passing and I could read the expression on their faces to mean that this man is being robbed, but none stopped to help,” Eze added.

To this end, Mohammed Ali, deputy commissioner of Police (Operations), Lagos State Police Command, recently warned traffic robbers and cult members in the state to renounce criminal activities, as the force had resolved to track them down.

He pointed out that various proactive strategies have been put in place to suppress and clamp down on traffic robbers in the state.

“Traffic robbers and cultists are criminals. My advice to them is to relocate, out of Lagos otherwise, we will dislocate them. Anyone arrested will be charged to court and he or she would end up in prison.

“Then, life to such person will have no meaning. So, instead of wasting your life as a young boy in jail, why don’t you drop the idea of joining any of these groups of criminals- be it cultists, traffic robbers, armed robbers or kidnappers?” he questioned.

Despite this note of warning, many of these bad boys have continued to perpetrate these evil acts against innocent Lagosians. Commuters are being molested on a daily basis even in the full glare of the public without fear.

Miscreants and hoodlums seize every opportunity to dispossess motorists and passengers of their belongings, especially when they are trapped in the traffic.

Hence, the need for officers of the Nigerian Police Force and the Lagos State Government to collaborate in addressing the rising security challenges in the state.

Also, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration in the state needs to, as matter of urgency, begin aggressive rehabilitation and repair of all the bad portions of Lagos major expressways as well as high traffic areas in order to reduce heavy traffic congestion on the road, which the bad boys capitalise on to ply their evil trade.

Places like Oshodi-Oke, Oshodi-Isale, Idumota – Eko, CMS, Costain, Maryland and Gbagada are also notorious for traffic robbery.

Just recently, a team of surveillance attached to the Police Command in Lagos State arrested five traffic robbery suspects.

According to Bala Elkana, spokesperson of the command, the suspects were arrested by the police patrol team on surveillance along Oshodi/Apapa Expressway.

Elkana narrated that the policemen sighted some bandits under Daleko Bridge, taking advantage of the traffic congestion to rob motorists and other members of the public of their valuables such as laptops, cell phones and money.

He said three suspects namely 19-year old Daniel Ani; 17-year old Akinbode Muiz, and 24-year old Oluwasegun Emmanuel were arrested, and they confessed to being responsible for traffic robbery along Mushin and its environs.

They also confessed to have stolen numerous phones and bags from different victims as well as a bag containing the sum of N25,000 belonging to one Oyebanji Ibukun of No 14, Waheed Ologunju Street, Oke-Afa Isolo before they were apprehended by the Police.

In addition, two other suspected traffic robbers, 20-year old Samson Oluwa, 22-year old and Michael Amodu Adamu, were also arrested in an all-night sting operation in the CMS area of the state.

In a different incident, a 38-year-old taxi driver, who gave his name as Obot narrated his ordeal with traffic robbers while driving along Ikorodu Road to pick up a passenger that had called for his service at Ojota.

Obot on getting to Iyana-School/Ile-Ile area met two young men in traffic. The guys stole from him using a simple trick.

“As I headed towards Ketu from Mile 12 to connect Ojota where a passenger that had called earlier was waiting for me, I encountered traffic around Kosofe bus stop that morning. On getting to Ile-Ile, a guy waved me down, telling me my vehicle had slightly hit someone’s car.

“While talking to him through the window of the driver’s side and wondering how I could hit somebody’s car without knowing, one of his accomplices stole my two phones from the front passenger seat. Before I understood what was happening, two of them had disappeared. They crossed to the other side of the road and left with a waiting motorcycle. There was nothing I could do at that point,” he added.

Also, a 27-year-old banker in the Yaba area of Lagos, who gave her name as Betty Iroha, had a sad encounter with traffic robbers when she was trapped in traffic around the Onipanu axis of Ikorodu Road at about 6.00am in the morning on her way to the office.

She said the hoodlums smashed the rear seat window of her car and made away with her handbag, laptop, mobile phones and shoes. She added that they could have caused her more harm if not for some other motorists, who mustered the courage to confront them, which made them to flee the area.

Jide Abogunde, a businessman based in the Iyana-Ipaja area of the state, suffered injuries inflicted on him by robbers while in traffic at Oshodi.

He said he was heading home after the close of business at his shop in Anthony Village when he encountered heavy traffic that built up due to a fallen petrol tanker.

It was said that Abogunde tried to struggle with his attackers, which led to his receiving three stabs on his neck and hand.

Pending when the state government is able to address the issue of bad roads, the men of Nigerian Police, especially the Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), should move, in addition to mounting checking points on these crime hot spots, to also carry out regular patrol on these heavy traffic areas in order to scare away the hoodlums.

A cleric advice to government

Speaking on the rising cases of traffic robbery across the cities in Nigeria, a cleric, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the same reasons that were responsible for the upsurge in banditry and kidnapping are also to blame for the “minor crimes” in society.

“First, we must look at the family system in the country. A lot of families are having issues. We now have many divorce cases in the cities and when these happen, the children bear the brunt. Before they know it, they join bad gangs and become street boys. Again, the economy is not helping matters. There are no jobs and governments at all levels are neither creating employments nor creating the environment for the private sector to create jobs. The resultant effect is that those who ordinarily should have been involved in meaningful activities now channel their energy to criminality. Nature abhors a vacuum,” the cleric said.

According to him, “That people need food, shelter and clothing is not in doubt; so, people seek out ways to meet these needs, particularly in a society where government is almost non-existent. It is not just about police or security agencies scaling up their game, there must be a conscious effort on the part of government to create jobs or the right environment for people to fend for themselves in legitimate ways.

Source: businessdayng

Renewable Energy is the only way to Fuel African Growth

My country, Nigeria, will soon become the third most populous country in the world, reaching a forecast 400 million people in 2050. This demographic growth is happening at an incredible speed.

Elderly residents of Lagos will tell you their memories of their home town in the days when the number of inhabitants did not even reach one million. Today, it is a 20-million metropolis that never ever rests.

The fast pace of population growth is posing enormous challenges. This relatively young country urgently has to stimulate domestic industries that employ people and thus contribute to inclusive economic growth. However, if it is to grow, Nigeria needs energy.

Only one in four Nigerians is connected to the national power grid and they experience daily power cuts

At times, Nigeria’s generating companies can only provide around 3,000MWh of electricity. By comparison, South Africa, home to approximately a third as many people, produces 50,000MWh.

Only one in four Nigerians is connected to the national power grid. And even those who are connected experience daily power cuts.

As a result, Nigeria is the world’s largest importer of power generators fuelled by expensive and polluting diesel. The sheer number of them already threatens the health of millions of Nigerians, the world’s climate and its global commons. And so long as the current energy supply crisis persists, the country’s economy will not be able to keep step with its rapid demographic growth.

What is the solution? Renewable energy sources are environmentally sustainable, financially affordable – and, after all, Nigeria is richly endowed with water and sun.

But however brightly the sun shines from the sky, it will not solve the problem alone.  Many African states partially privatised their energy sectors in the early 2000s in an attempt to incentivise efficiency. Yet restructuring the ever more dilapidated energy sector needs capital, which both foreign and domestic investors are often hesitant to provide.

Past experiences have resulted in a lack of return on investment, and governments have often failed to give strong signals of being willing to enforce plans and agreements. This has shaped the perception that if innovation in Africa’s energy sector is to occur at all, it will be in spite of, not because of, government involvement.

Providing stable energy supplies on this scale clearly demands the involvement of political actors. Despite the many pitfalls and failures, public-private partnerships can work – and if they do, they provide impressive results. The Sabon Gari micro-utility project in Kano, the country’s largest city after Lagos, is one of these.

We are excited about the ripple effects stemming from reduced energy costs for microbusiness owners, as well as the benefits for clean air and a healthy climate

Sabon Gari is one of Nigeria’s largest markets, with more than 10,000 merchants selling a wide variety of goods and services. Previously, market sellers had to pay up to half their income to fuel the diesel generators that kept their businesses running.

Through a partnership of my company, Rensource, with the federal government’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) led by Damilola Ogunbiyi, widely considered one of the country’s most effective technocrats, thousands of microenterprises in the market were connected to Nigeria’s first solar micro-utility.

Their costs for power decreased by more than 30pc and reliability increased. And, so far, the Sabon Gari project has created more than 200 skilled jobs, with potential for more as it expands.

The REA’s energising economies initiative, which facilitates market access for private sector actors such as Rensource, made success possible much more quickly than if we had to act alone.

The agency conducted a preliminary power audit in several major urban markets around Nigeria to determine the energy needs of small business owners and their levels of spending on electricity.

This information was crucial for my team to identify both the energy demand and at what price point small business people would be willing to switch from diesel-fuelled generators to solar power.

And the REA also helped us to navigate complex government permitting processes and reduced red tape so we could develop and finance the project much faster and efficiently than if it had not been involved.

The solid and transparent partnership between us also boosted investor confidence. We were able to raise several million dollars in initial funding for the project from global investors, which we used to import solar panels, various power electronics and storage technology.

The Sabon Gari market in Kano is showing what can be achieved if the government and the private sector can leverage their respective strengths to drive innovation and inclusive economic growth.

I view this as only the start. We have ambitious plans to construct micro-utilities in other peri-urban and rural areas that lack sufficient grid access.

We are excited about the ripple effects stemming from reduced energy costs for microbusiness owners, as well as the benefits for clean air and a healthy climate. Business owners with lower overheads will be able to reinvest their hard-earned money, creating more jobs.

A Nigerian diplomat and former Commonwealth secretary-general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, once spoke of the country as a car able to run at 200km/h but moving at only a tenth of that speed. If we can build on transparent public-private partnerships, Nigeria has the potential to overcome its challenges and emerge as a globally significant player.

Source: telegraph

San Francisco: More Homeless Living in Vehicles in the City

SAN FRANCISCO — Most homeless people in San Francisco sleep in parks and on sidewalks but a growing number are living out of their vehicles, helping fuel an overall 17% increase in homelessness in the last two years, according to a report released Friday.

San Francisco tallied about 8,000 homeless in its one-night count in January, when counties across the country conducted similar counts as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Other counties in California also saw double-digit increases, reflecting the state’s severe housing crunch. In May, Alameda County, which includes Oakland, reported a 43% increase over two years while last month Los Angeles County reported a year-to-year 12% jump to nearly 59,000 homeless, with more young adults, older people and families on the streets.

The San Francisco report, released by the city’s Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing, paints a picture of a city in crisis despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent every year to tackle the problem. Nearly 1,200 people were on the waiting list for shelter beds the week of the January count.

Officials say they can’t keep pace with the number of people who become homeless in a city where the median sales price of a house hovers at $1.4 million and median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $3,700. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they had been living in a place they or their partner rented or owned, or with family or friends immediately prior to becoming homeless.

Homelessness continues to be associated with deep poverty, mental illness and addiction— tents and people sprawled out on sidewalks are all too visible. But people of higher income levels, including those who own cars, are also struggling, said Jeff Kositsky, the San Francisco agency’s director.

“I’m seeing people with decent RVs but with no place to live, and many of them have jobs,” he said. “It’s very concerning and it all indicates what everybody already knows in California: that we have a severe affordable housing shortage.”

San Francisco identified nearly 600 passenger vehicles, RVs or vans that appeared to be inhabited, according to the report.

RV living has more commonly been associated with Silicon Valley suburbs that are home to Apple, Facebook and Google, which have struggled with the dozens of RVs that line its streets. But San Francisco plans to open a “safe site” for vehicles by the end of the year. The city of Oakland opened a space for people living in their vehicles last month.

“It’s definitely a sign of the wealth gap and what’s happening in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown, adding that officials failed to build units for decades, “and then all of a sudden we became an economic engine where almost anyone who comes to this city can get a job but there’s no housing for people.”

Julio, a longtime gardener, said he bought an RV for $12,000 off Craigslist in late 2017, after conflicts with neighbors. Julio, 50, asked that his last name not be used because he does not want to jeopardize his business.

For more than a year, he parked around San Francisco State University, staying one step ahead of notices to move. About six months ago the family of four, including two teens, got a spot at the Candlestick RV Park, where they now have electricity and water.

“San Francisco is rich. They can definitely do a lot more, and I wish they could do something better,” he said. “There are a whole bunch of working people … I know for a fact there are more people like myself and my family out there, and they don’t deserve this.”

Kelley Cutler, an organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco, said it’s natural for people who have lost their homes to take to their cars. She wishes the city would stop towing RVs and clearing out tents, and focus instead on finding help for people sleeping in doorways.

“It’s the shuffling game around the city, but it’s not addressing the issue,” she said.

Shanna Orona, who goes by the name Couper, is a disabled former firefighter who has been living in a beat-up RV in the Mission District for about seven months. She lives with her cat, Maison, and moves it once a week for street-cleaning.

She has been homeless for about four years, after a divorce that left her without a condo to call home. She tends to other homeless people, treating cuts and changing bandages.

“We’re just like everyone else. The only difference between them and us, is they have a roof over their head and we don’t, but we’re all San Francisco residents,” she said.

Homelessness isn’t necessarily growing in other parts of the country. Seattle’s King County reported an 8% decrease from last year to just over 11,000 and the Washington D.C. area counted 9,800 people, the lowest number recorded since 2001.

The California Assembly voted 64-0 on Friday to set aside $2.4 billion in the state budget to address housing and homelessness. That includes increasing funding for an emergency homelessness program from $500 million to $650 million, removing some of the red tape involved in opening up new homeless shelters and creating incentives for the construction of affordable housing.

Ahead of the vote, Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, described California as experiencing “the most intense housing crisis we have experienced in our state’s history.”

Kositsky, the homeless department director, remains optimistic, despite a population that is older, sicker and growing. San Francisco is adding shelter beds and he sees progress in housing veterans and youth— and the 17% increase was not as high as in other California counties.

San Francisco also conducts an expanded count that includes the number of homeless people in jails, hospitals and treatment centers on the same time. That number was 9,800, up from 7,499 in 2017, although part of that increase is due to improved counting, the report said.

Source: triblive

16 Simple Excel Formulas Every Architect Needs to Know

How do you write formulas in Excel?
Excel uses standard operators for equations, such as a plus sign for addition (+), minus sign for subtraction (-), asterisk for multiplication (*), forward slash for division (/), and caret (^) for exponents.
The key thing to remember when writing formulas for Excel is that all formulas must begin with an equals sign (=). This is because the cell contains—or is equal to—the formula and its value.

16 Simple Excel Formulas Every Architect Needs to Know

To create a simple formula in Excel:

  1. Select the cell where the answer will appear (B4, for example).
    16 Simple Excel Formulas Every Architect Needs to Know
  2. Type the equals sign (=).
  3. Type in the formula you want Excel to calculate (75/250, for example).
    16 Simple Excel Formulas Every Architect Needs to Know
  4. Press Enter. The formula will be calculated, and the value will be displayed in the cell.
    16 Simple Excel Formulas Every Architect Needs to Know

If the result of a formula is too large to be displayed in a cell, it may appear as pound signs (#######) instead of a value. This means the column is not wide enough to display the cell content. Simply increase the column width to show the cell content. Excel might seem a bit confusing in the beginning, but once you get familiar with the basic formulae, tools, and shortcuts, you will find it quite handy. So, here we will help you get accustomed to it by providing you with a list of some of the most commonly used and quite helpful formulae which will get you started and rolling.

1.     SUMIt sums all the values within a defined range, for a single or multiple rows or columns.=SUM(A1:F1)=SUM(A1:A7)
2.     MINIt gives the “smallest” value within a defined range.=MIN(A1:F1)=MIN(A1:A7)
3.     MAXIt gives the “largest” value within a defined range.=MAX(A1:F1)=MAX(A1:A7)
4.     AVERAGEIt calculates the average / Arithmetic mean for a defined range.=AVERAGE(A1:F1)=AVERAGE(A1:A7)
5.     COUNTIt counts the cells containing numbers within a defined range.=COUNT(A1:F1)=COUNT(A1:A7)
6.     COUNTAIt counts all non-empty cells within a defined range, regardless the content.=COUNTA(A1:F1)=COUNTA(A1:A7)
7.     COUNTBLANKIt counts the empty cells within a defined range.=COUNTBLANK(A1:F1)=COUNTBLANK(A1:A7)
8.     IFIt gives one of two different outcomes depending on whether a condition is satisfied or not.=IF(Condition, “if true value”, “if false value”)=IF(A1<B1, “Yes”, “NO”)
9.     SUMIFIt operates the SUM only if a given condition is satisfied.=SUMIF(B1:B7, “<100”)
10.  SUMIFSIt operates the SUM only if multiple conditions are satisfied.=SUMIFS(B1:B7, B1:B7, “>10”, B1:B7, “<100”)
11.  COUNTIFIt counts cells with numbers that satisfy the specified conditions only.=COUNTIF(A1:A7, “>10″)
12.  ROUNDIt rounds numbers to a specified number of digits.=ROUND(8.39,1). . 8.39 will be 8.4
13.  ROUNDUPIt defines the direction of the rounding to upwards.=ROUNDUP(8.39,0). . 8.39 will be 9
14. ROUNDDOWNIt defines the direction of the rounding to upwards.=ROUNDDOWN(8.39, 1) . . 8.39 will be 8.3
15. FloorIt rounds a number down to a specified multiple.=Floor(B2, 1000)e.g. 1350 will be 1000
16. CeilingIt rounds a number up to a specified multiple.=Ceiling(B2, 1500)e.g. 1350 will be 1500

Source: arch2o

New Study Analyzes Land Tenure in Ghana

In August 2018, the local government of Accra, Ghana, in West Africa, appropriated 1,800 homes for demolition to make way for, among others, tomato retailers. Officials had already begun plotting the land for its new use when residents of the largely poor neighborhood erupted in protest, to no avail.

The extreme usurpation of land wasn’t entirely illegal—nor was it entirely legal. And therein lies a new “idiom of planning” overtaking many African cities as they navigate rapid urbanization under competing land ownership and use laws that date back to British Colonial rule.

University at Buffalo urban planner Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah recently published an analysis of the complex legal and political backdrop to land tenure in Ghana in the journal Environment and Planning: Politics and Space. Frimpong Boamah is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, and has a faculty appointment in the university’s Community for Global Health Equity.

In “Planning by (mis)rule of laws: The idiom and dilemma of planning within Ghana’s dual legal land systems,” Frimpong Boamah and co-author Clifford Amoako of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, argue that the competing systems of colonially inherited statutory and customary property law create vacuums of power and opportunities for exploitation of poor and vulnerable groups by both state and non-state authorities.

The dual system dates back to 1894, when the Aborigines Right Protection Society was formed to resist the Crown Lands Bill, which sought to vest the country’s land and mineral rights in the British Crown. The resulting dispute between customary land owners and the state created parallel legal land systems that persist today.

According to the authors, the land and planning laws empower both customary and statutory officials without clear distinctions in authority on land ownership and use decisions. As a result, officials navigate the spaces between the law to accumulate wealth and power.

For instance, in the Accra case, the local government—the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA)—over-applied one part of statutory planning law, appropriating land based on an a priori, or after-the-fact, non-compliance with the government’s own planned use and development scheme. Yet the local government conveniently placed itself outside these same statutory planning and land laws by not consulting residents before carrying out the demolition.

Customary authorities, such as tribal leaders, similarly act within and outside their own customary laws, for instance, by negotiating with state and prospective land buyers when the land is held in public trust, (re)leasing publicly acquired lands to private developers, and engaging in double dipping within Ghana’s deregulated land market—leasing the same land parcel to multiple developers.

Such (mis)rule of planning and land laws by state and customary authorities results in actions that “(un)map people, places and informal economic activities,” the authors write. “It is a conflict-ridden nexus where those owning the land (indigenous institutions) are different from those deciding on how and what to use the land for (state planning institutions).”

Focusing their research on two case studies—the rapidly urbanizing Ghanian cities of Accra and Kumai—the authors conducted interviews with dozens of customary and state authorities, residents, developers and opinion leaders, while bringing together a corpus of empirical work, newspaper articles and existing literature on Ghana’s land tenure and planning systems.

The paper serves as an “alternative conceptual lens” on the complex relationship between Ghana’s planning system and its dual legal land systems, which, the authors state, “have paralyzed planning in Ghana.”

Moving forward, Frimpong Boamah and Amoako argue more research is needed—including a political economy analysis of planning and land laws, which can help planners move beyond an overemphasis on enforcing planning rules. As the authors state, “what’s the point of enforcing rules that marginalize poor and vulnerable groups in society.”

Frimpong Boamah researches how governance of land, water and food can facilitate sustainable and healthy urbanism in both Global North and South countries.

Source: phys

How Council Housing Changed Lives in Scotland

This year marks 100 years since a landmark piece of legislation paved the way for council housing. Local government correspondent Jamie McIvor looks at how it developed in Scotland.

For some, they were characterised by concrete carbuncles, tower blocks and social problems.

For others, they meant attractive avenues, neat gardens and a clean, warm home with an inside toilet.

This year marks 100 years of council housing. The Addison Act was a watershed piece of legislation which led to the first widespread council housing in Scotland and other parts of the UK.

 

In 1919, the need for “homes fit for heroes” was great. But, a century on, the problem of poor housing has never been eliminated and council housing has not always been successful.

A century ago, those who did not own their home were likely to live in privately-rented properties.

Stories of poor housing and exploitative, profiteering landlords was a concern – especially for the trade union movement, the growing Labour Party and the governing Liberal Party, which took the first steps towards establishing the welfare state.

Between the wars, attractive new schemes like Knightswood in the west end of Glasgow grew up – but the people who were housed there were the lucky ones. Many working people still lived in poor conditions.

The war put a stop to new developments, but it did not set the clock back in Scotland as badly as in some parts of England.

Few parts of Scotland – with obvious exceptions like Clydebank – were devastated by air raids. Most large English towns and cities suffered a greater degree of damage.

This meant that the ready-built prefabricated housing, popular after the war, often created additional housing stock and new opportunities for people to move out of slums.

By the 1950s, permanent council housing was being built again – low-storey flats and semi-detached properties. But these were not enough. Slum housing remained a problem. Tower blocks – often maligned today – appeared to provide a solution. They could provide good homes for many on a relatively small patch of ground.

It is worth remembering that many tower block tenants in the 1950s and 1960s had an indoor toilet and a dry home for the first time.

Presentational white space

However, some tower blocks quickly lost their desirability while some new peripheral schemes, like Easterhouse and Drumchapel in Glasgow, did not enjoy the good reputations of Knightswood and Sandyhills.

Right up until the 1970s, Glasgow’s housing policies were dominated by the need to rid the city of its 19th Century tenement slums. There was an apparently insatiable demand for new council houses. Even in the early 70s, it was still known for people to live in homes with an outside toilet.

Across Britain, about 10% of homes still did not have an inside toilet by then, but research by Glasgow Corporation in the late 1960s pointed to a higher number of people living in what would be seen as poor conditions.

Council housing had solved some problems and transformed many families’ living conditions, but sometimes faced its own difficulties – some developments were poorly planned and certain schemes gained poor reputations.

Presentational white space

From the 1970s onwards, the emphasis changed towards the retention and renovation of what could be saved from the tenements.

But it says something for the success of the better developments that it was not unusual in the 1980s to find people with well-paid or white-collar jobs who were more than happy to live in council housing.

But then two things changed.

Firstly, Margaret Thatcher’s government gave tenants the guaranteed right to buy council houses. Those who had lived in their homes for many years received very significant discounts.

Secondly, the number of affordable commercial developments by companies such as Barratt Homes increased.

Buying a home, for many, became an affordable and realistic option with potential advantages.

It was almost inevitable that many of the council houses sold were those of good quality in more desirable areas, which meant the right to buy came at a price.

Local authorities were for many years unable to use the proceeds from sales to build new social housing and there was little incentive to build good housing if it was likely to be bought within a few years.

Over time, the number of council houses fell significantly. Waiting times for a home became longer. Campaigners highlighted the problems facing people in temporary, overcrowded or simply inadequate housing – sometimes the responsibility, they would claim, of profiteering private landlords.

In recent years, though, rented social housing has enjoyed a revival – but not all of it is the direct responsibility of councils.

Some local authorities, most notably Glasgow, transferred their housing stock over to housing associations.

Others are now building council homes again. In 2017, North Lanarkshire Council announced a plan to eventually replace its tower blocks as part of a large homebuilding programme.

And tenants no longer have the right to buy their homes. Moving onto the property market now, for first time in a generation, automatically means that you would have to move from a council house.

So might housing estates gradually see more mixed demographics again, or has the underlying culture changed since the 1970s?

Will the next few years see a revival of council housing, or will it simply mean more good homes are available for those who would be unable to buy one?

The importance of good social housing over the past century – and the way it changed lives for the better – cannot be underestimated.

But the problem of poor housing has never been eliminated.

Source: bbc

Land Affordability a Challenge in Namibia – Mushelenga

The Namibian Government has recognised that a large section of people still do not have access to land and decent shelter because it is unaffordable, Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga said on Tuesday.

Speaking during the official opening of a high-level consultative retreat with governors, mayors and senior administration officials of local authorities at Walvis Bay, he said this is one of the major challenges the ministry faces.

The minister said the affordability of land has become a key issue, especially in developing nations, where the majority of the population is not able to buy serviced urban land or houses at market prices.
The three-day meeting is aimed at enabling the ministry and its management to engage the officials with a view toward developing a sense of togetherness and teamwork.

Mushelenga gave his assurance that the government will continue to provide budgetary support to regional councils and local authorities to service land and develop other basic services, in keeping with the Harambee Prosperity Plan and national development targets.

Other challenges faced by the ministry include the high rate of open defecation in rural areas and informal settlements, for which statistics stand at 70%.

Other challenges and topics of discussion during the deliberations include poor governmental budget execution, poor coordination among offices and agencies, poverty and rural development.

Mushelenga said the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, along with regional councils and local authorities, is entrusted with the responsibility of meeting some of the fundamental needs of the people of Namibia.
He, therefore, emphasised that it is critical for the ministry and its departments to have structures in place and to work together in order to effectively execute this mandate.

Source: nbc

Without Land Reform, SA will Fail to Lift Majority of Black People from Poverty

In 1996, while I was a teaching at the University of Cape Town, I was invited by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be an in-house critic at a town hall they had organised.

A member of the largely black African audience told this story: “Tom and John were neighbours. One day Tom stole John’s bicycle. They did not speak for years until the day Tom extended his hand to John and said, “Let us reconcile.”
“What about my bicycle?” asked John.

“Forget the bicycle,” said Tom. “Let it not stand between us.”

John’s question has now turned into a growing social movement. For the second time in a half century, South Africa is in the throes of a country-wide mobilisation of transformative potential. Much like the first, which swept away apartheid’s legacy of racialised citizenship, this moment is spearheaded by student and labour movements, focusing on the land question as the way to address the social legacy of apartheid.

If building a common polity was the promise of the new South Africa, its challenge was the realisation of social justice for the vast majority of the country, one which had been forcibly excluded from the common journey until only yesterday. South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa of the African National Congress (ANC), who was re-elected in May, conveyed his awareness of the challenge during his inauguration speech, saying that South Africa “can no longer abide by the grave disparities of wealth and opportunity that have defined our past and which threaten to imperil our future.”

The ANC won the May elections, but with the lowest share of votes since the end of the apartheid in 1994, a stark illustration of its continued failure to address these disparities. Led by Julius Malema, The Economic Freedom Fighters party were the beneficiaries, with their push for the nationalisation of land, banks and mineral rights.

South African apartheid borrowed key institutions from its North American predecessor. The Natives Land Act of 1913 appropriated 87 per cent of all arable land for the whites and left a mere 13 per cent for the black majority who were herded into separate ethnic homelands. T

he American “reservation” became the South African “reserve” whose native inhabitants were governed by an ethnically coded patriarchal “customary” law enforced by State-appointed “traditional chiefs”. After 1913, in rural reserves, black people were deprived of the right to buy or sell land; they could only occupy and use land with the consent of a government-appointed traditional chief. In 1923, black people in urban areas were deprived of freehold property rights.

When the Afrikaaner party won the Whites-only elections in 1948, it introduced formal apartheid and it implemented a comprehensive programme for the restoration of fully autonomous tribal authorities, charged with disciplining and containing black labour in rural areas. The reserves became Bantustans.

At the end of apartheid in 1994, 60,000 white farmers held 86 per cent of all farmland. Thirteen million blacks, many of whose forebears had been dispossessed in 1913, held the remaining 14 per cent, much of it poor-quality land.

Source: monitor

Sluggish Economic Growth Characterized by Slow Recovery

In a note released by his firm last Friday, the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, stated that the dip in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s June manufacturing and non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) suggests the country could be set to report that economic growth again slowed in the second quarter of this year.

The latest PMI report released by the apex bank last Tuesday indicates that the manufacturing PMI eased to 57.4 index points in June from 57.8 index points in May. The report also showed that the Non-Manufacturing PMI declined in the month of June to 58.6 from 58.9 in May.

NBS Q1 GDP 2019 report

Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May showed that the nation’s economy expanded more slowly in the first quarter of 2019 than it did in the fourth quarter of last year. The NBS, in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report for first quarter of 2019, said the GDP grew by 2.01 per cent in the first quarter, compared to 2.38 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

 

The Bureau stated: “It is worth noting that general elections were held across the country during the first quarter of 2019 and this may have reflected in the strongest first-quarter performance observed since 2015.”

IMF revises growth forecast

Indeed, since the country exited recession in the second quarter of 2017, it has struggled with sluggish growth. For instance, the economy grew by only 1.9 per cent in 2018. Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had last January – a few  weeks to the elections- revised down its GDP projection for Nigeria this year to 2.0 per cent from its earlier forecast of 2.3 per cent. It also projected a 2.2 per cent economic growth for Nigeria next year, lowering the initial estimate from 2.5 per cent for 2020. Although the IMF subsequently revised Nigeria’s growth for this year upwards to 2.1 per cent, in April this year, its counterpart Bretton Woods’ institution, the World Bank, early last month revised down its own GDP forecast for the country to 2.1 per cent in 2019 from its earlier projection of 2.2 per cent.

 

Attention turns to growth

Thus, with the elections concluded and following Muhammadu Buhari’s second inauguration as Nigeria’s president on May 29, stakeholder groups and financial experts wasted no time in letting him know that his primary task was to immediately take steps to accelerate economic growth. For instance, at a roundtable session dubbed, “Going for Growth,” held in Lagos about a fortnight ago, President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, called for an urgent solution to the problem of poor power supply in the country, stressing that Nigeria cannot achieve sustainable economic growth without adequate power supply.

 

He said: “How do you have economic growth without power? So, no power, no growth; without power, there can’t be growth. Egypt increased its electricity by 10 gigawatts, which is equivalent to 10,000 megawatts in 18 months.”

 

Dangote said that all stakeholders must come together and support government in finding a solution to power challenges in the country. Apart from power, Mr. Dangote suggested that government focuses more on three areas, which include finance, manufacturing and agriculture. According to him, the Asian Tigers   concentrated on developing these three sectors to take them to their current level of socio-economic development. He also urged the CBN and commercial banks in the country to work towards reducing lending rates as well as developing consumer credit products in order to encourage low income earners to access credit facilities.

 

Emefiele’s speech

However, speaking at the event, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, stated that while the apex bank was desirous of achieving a low interest rate regime to stimulate economic growth, this, was, however, not feasible now given the high inflationary environment in the country.

 

He said: “In fact, for us at CBN, achieving a low interest rate regime will give us a great sense of accomplishment. Indeed, given our determination to stimulate economic growth, it is obvious that we would want to pursue a policy of moderating interest rates. Yet, in an environment where inflation recently was as high as 18.72 per cent, it would be counter-productive to reduce interest rates because any attempt to ease interest rates under a high inflationary environment will no doubt retard growth.”

He also pointed out that apart from the high inflationary environment Nigeria’s high interest regime, “reflects not only the cost of capital, but also the cost of doing business in the country.” According to him, a typical bank branch in the country provides its own security that sometimes includes permanent police presence, its own electricity supply with several generators, diesel tanks and inverters as well as its own broad band Internet services. The CBN boss explained: “For banks whose main source of income is from interest earnings, these deficiencies become costs, which it (banks) must necessarily pass on to borrowers.”

CBN gov’s 2nd term agenda

In fact, in the wake of his reappointment for another term of five years, Emefiele, last Monday, held a press conference where he disclosed that one of the key objectives the CBN would pursue during his second term in office would be work with the fiscal authorities to achieve double digit growth for the country in the next five years.

 

MPR cut

In fact, in order to boost economic growth, the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) had at its meeting in March, cut the benchmark interest rate- the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 50 basis points from 14.00 to 13.50 per cent. CBN had left the rate unchanged at 14 per cent since July 2016. However, since that reduction in MPR, the inflation rate has risen from 11. 25 per cent in March, to 11.37 per    cent and 11.4 per cent, in April and May respectively, thereby compelling the MPC to leave rates unchanged at its last meeting.

 

Planned recapitalisation of banks

Another important announcement that Emefiele made at the press conference was that the CBN will pursue a programme of recapitalising the banking industry to ensure that the country’s lenders rank among the top 500 banks in the world. According to him, the recapitalisation of Nigerian banks was long overdue because the last time such an exercise was carried out was in 2004 when the capital base of lenders was raised from N2 billion to N25 billion. Emefiele said: “In the next five years, we intend to pursue a program of recapitalising the banking industry so as to position Nigerian banks among the top 500 in the world. Banks will therefore be required to maintain higher level of capital, as well as liquid assets in order to reduce the impact of an economic crisis on the financial system.”

 

He also noted that the last recapitalisation exercise: “resulted in positioning Nigerian banks not only in Africa but also being among the top banks in the world in terms of capitalisation and also helped to increase and strengthen the banks’ capacity to take on large ticket transactions and those are some of the things we badly need today.” Specifically, he said: “If you relate it, N25 billion in 2004 exchange rate, which was about N100/$, N25 billion is almost about $200 million today, if you relate N25 billion at 360, you can see that it is substantially lower than $75 million so what we are trying to say is that the capitalisation has weakened quite substantially, and there is a need for us to say that it is time to recapitalize Nigerian banks again.”

 

MFBs minimum capital requirements

Interestingly, CBN had, in the first quarter of this year, reviewed the minimum capital requirements for micro-finance banks (MFBs) in the country. The regulator, last October, raised the minimum capital base for the three categories of MFBs with December 31st 2020 as the deadline for compliance. The minimum capital base for national MFBs was raised to N5 billion from N2 billion, state MFBs was increased to N1 billion from N200 million while that of Unit MFBs was increased to N100 million from N20 million.

 

In a circular it issued in March, the banking watchdog announced a graduated extension of the deadline to April 2021, even as it categorised Unit MFBs into two namely Tier 1 Unit MFBs and Tier 2 Unit MFBs. According to the circular: “Unit microfinance banks shall comprise two tiers; Tier 1 Unit MfBs, which shall operate in the urban and high density banked areas of the society; and Tier 2 Unit MfBs, which shall operate only in the rural, unbanked or underbanked areas.”

 

Furthermore, while the minimum capital base for Tier 1 Unit MFBs was retained at N200 million, that of Tier 2 MFBs was adjusted downward to N50 million. CBN also stated: “To aid the process of recapitalisation, all MFBs shall be required to comply with the following: Tier 1 MFBs shall meet a N100 million capital threshold by April 2020 and N200 million by April    2021. Tier 2 Unit MFBs shall meet a N35 million capital threshold by April 2020 and N50 million by April 2021. A State MFB shall increase its capitalisation to N500 million by 2020 and N1 billion by April 2021 and National MFB shall hold capital of N3.5 billion by April 2020 and N5 billion by April 2021.”

 

Moody’s stable outlook for banking

However, while the DMBs may indeed need to strengthen their capital base, they still received a largely positive report from one of the world’s leading credit rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service. In a recent report, the agency announced that it was keeping its outlook on the Nigerian banks stable to reflect the industry’s resilient capital buffers and stable deposit bases, with high risks likely to subside as the economy is expected to strengthen. “Nigerian banks’ asset risk and profitability will remain key rating challenges, but we expect these challenges to gradually decline in 2020 as the economy picks up,” said Peter Mushangwe, Analyst at Moody’s.

 

“Banks’ funding and liquidity profiles will remain stable thanks to solid deposit bases.” In the report, the rating agency predicted that non-performing loans (NPLs) will decline to between seven and eight per cent over the outlook period from 11.7 per cent at year-end 2018 – but still at a high level; and that system-wide tangible common equity will be stable at 16 per cent of risk-weighted assets at year-end 2018, thereby sufficient to bear losses.

The report also pointed out that “banks revenue will be restrained by subdued loan growth while cost pressures, due to IT investments and AMCON levy2 and higher staff costs will slow pre-provision profitability.”

Besides, it stated: “Moody’s expects Nigeria’s real GDP to expand 2.3 per cent in 2019 and 2.8 per cent in 2020, up from 1.9 per cent last year, but well below the level required to improve living standards. Lending growth will recover in the second half of the year following a contraction in 2018, but it will remain subdued and will not appreciably boost banking revenue.”

 

Last line

The consensus in financial circles was that while the outlook on the banking system may be stable, especially given that Access and Diamond banks successfully concluded their business combination in the first half of this year, the prospects of the economy would depend on if President Buhari appoints brilliant individuals into his cabinet who will ensure that the fiscal authorities and CBN work together to accelerate growth.

Source: newtelegraphng

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