NCRIB urges govt to curb building collapse

To combat the menace of building collapse in the country, government at all levels need to be more proactive in implementing building laws, the President, Nigeria Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Mr Shola Tinubu, has said.

He spoke in an interview with reporters in Lagos.

He also said that they have to continually engage stakeholders in the construction built environment and related institutions to elicit their input for a long lasting solution to the malaise.

He called on the government to give more impetus to the implementation of the enforcement of compulsory building insurance as enshrined in Section 64 and Section 65 of Insurance Act 2003.

He further advised Nigerians to, on their own, insure their personal assets in order to mitigate their losses when and if losses like building collapse occur.

He added that every individual should ideally live up to his responsibility of care by protecting whatever is valuable to him or her, both life and property, noting that their slogan has been,” Whatever is worth having, is worth insuring”.

Speaking on efforts to drive insurance penetration in the insurance industry, he said the council is quite aware of the desire of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to drive insurance penetration in the country, noting that it is commendable.

“While the entire industry operators are saddled with the task to make this vision come to pass, the NCRIB would soon be redoubling its efforts by making inputs into the initiative. We like to use this opportunity to appreciate NAICOM for its favourable disposition towards growing the industry and assure that our council will continue to complement the commission in this regard.”

He further stated that the council is committed to adding greater value to its members.

“I am most delighted that today, it is a pride for any member to belong to the NCRIB, because of the added value members are getting from the council. Through this value addition we have been able to douse the negative views and a flurry of ill fillings that was the lot of many members about two years ago. We have given value in terms of training. We have also given value in terms of information sharing, leading to facilitation of business through public bids”, he noted.

Source: By Omobola Tolu-Kusimo

EFCC Seizes Senate President Saraki’s Houses In Lagos

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Saturday, seized some houses belonging to Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Concise News understands that the houses are located at 15a, 15b and 17 MacDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

However, the EFCC was said to be unsure of which of the properties that actually belong to Saraki and decided to place inscriptions and stickers on all of them.

While 15a and 15b were declared by Saraki in his asset declaration form, it is believed that some other houses on the street were bought by the Senate President from the Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sales of Government Property through shell companies.

His relative, who did not want to be named, told the Punch that the houses were seized on Friday.

He said, “The EFCC had been making inquiries into the finances and assets of Saraki for quite some time. They came to inscribe ‘EFCC, Under Investigation’ in red on the walls and the fences. The irony is that even houses that don’t belong to Saraki were marked.

“From what we were told, they are keeping him under strict surveillance ahead of May 29, 2019 when they may invite him.”

The EFCC had, while presenting evidence against Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in 2016, alleged that he owned houses on MacDonald Road but there were discrepancies in the addresses.

The EFCC witness, Michael Wetkas, had said an investigation revealed that House No. 15 MacDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, and Block 15 Flat 1 to 4 on the same street belonged to Saraki.

According to him, the Senate President bought the properties from the Presidential Committee on Sale of Federal Government Landed Properties in Lagos through his companies.

He added that the defendant made a bank draft in the name of TYNITY Company Limited, which he declared in the asset declaration form.

Wetkas noted that when the EFCC investigation team wrote to the presidential committee seeking clarification, the committee said from their records, the only property sold to the company was No. 15 Macdonald Street, Ikoyi.

Wetkas said 75 percent, which amounted to N123.7m was paid for House No. 15 MacDonald Road, Ikoyi, through a bank draft from the account of one of Saraki’s company called Skyview Properties Limited in Access Bank.

He also said investigation revealed that Saraki made a bank draft through his company TYNITY and paid for House No. 17 MacDonald Road in Ikoyi, Lagos, in the sum of N256.3m.

The witness had said, “My lord, there was a draft of N12.8m and another draft of N20m from Zenith Bank as well as a draft of N4m from GTBank as part of payment for the purchase of House No. 17 MacDonald Street.

“The N20m draft came from Carlys properties and Investment Limited and a draft of 136.1m was made on January 13, 2007 for the purchase of same property.

“Another draft of N180.6m was made through Saraki’s personal bank account in GTB.’’

The EFCC last week announced a probe into the activities of the Senate President dating back to 2003 when he became the governor of Kwara State.

The commission had written a letter to the Kwara State Government House, asking for the details of all of Saraki’s earnings including salaries, allowances and estacode during his eight years as governor.

Nigeria Sold Ageing, Unserviced Assets in 2013 – Fashola

Nigeria in 2013, handed over ageing, unserviced electricity generation and distribution assets to private investors who participated in the country’s power sector privatisation exercise that year, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said on Thursday in Abuja.

Fashola, who has had running battles with operators of the generation and distribution assets – especially the distribution companies (Discos), over reports of operational underperformance amongst others, told an audience at the Punuka Annual Lecture Series, that Nigeria adopted power privatisation models from Europe but handed over rundown assets to investors.

He also stated at the annual lecture series organised by Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors as its corporate social responsibility (CSR), that most Nigerians were either unaware of this sad realities in the sector, or chose to ignore them.

“In this sector, one area of difference between our privatisation model and what I know of the European models is that the assets were privatised as on-going and functional undertakings requiring only private sector managerial models to optimise commercial value.

“In our case the assets sold were not viable on-going concerns, they were in many cases ageing, de-rated and unserviced assets; and the service was disappointing. This is what led us to privatisation,” said Fashola.

He then explained: “The difference is that our model requires more private capital injection to achieve reliable service while capital injection in the EU will improve already reliable service.”

By Chineme Okafor

MAPs to deploy 900,000 meters in Abuja, others

Consumers to benefit from the deployment of the meters by the three MAPs – Mojec International, Turbo Energy and Meron ­­­- are those located in the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger States.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company is the power firm in charge of electricity supply to the  residents in the three states and Abuja.

AEDC’s Managing Director, Ernest Mupwaya, said the three MAPs had commenced the sales of 900,000 meters to customers, following the May 1, 2019 date that was given by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission mandating Discos and MAPs to deploy meters to unmetered customers across the country.

Mupwaya said Mojec would install and maintain meters for power users in the FCT and Kogi State, Turbo Energy would do same for customers in Niger, while Meron would handle consumers in Nasarawa State.

The Managing Director, Turbo Energy, Daniel Obemure, explained that power users now had the choice of making meter purchase and could choose to pay over a period of three to five years, adding that his firm had the capacity to meet the meter demand in its area of operation.

He said, “Power consumers using these meters now have a period of about three to five years to pay for the facility. As you are vending, a certain percentage will be deducted to offset the cost of the meter.”

Source: Punchng

North Dakota Affordable Housing fund gets $7.5M

North Dakota lawmakers are reinstating a program that subsidizes affordable housing projects, but the state funding is much lower than supporters had hoped.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that legislators approved $7.5 million for the Housing Incentive Fund, which has helped finance 2,500 rental units since 2011. The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s program wasn’t funded in 2017 due to limited state resources.

Gov. Doug Burgum had proposed allocating $20 million to bring back the housing incentive for 2019-2021. Lawmakers considered funding proposals of up to $40 million for the program.

The housing agency’s executive director, Jolene Kline, says she’s disappointed by the funding amount but pleased that the program has been restored.

Kline says the agency can likely support 150 rental units. She says they’ll solicit proposals in September.

By tri-cityherald

Fashola Acknowledges NERC Power to Revoke Licenses of None-Performing DisCos

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said that the power to revoke licenses of non-performing electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) is vested in the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Fashola said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 2019 Punuka Annual Lecture with the theme: “Rethinking the Model for an Effective Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI): Challenges for Government and Industry”.

According to him, the power not to renew or to cancel the license of non-performing DisCos exists and it is vested in the regulator, NERC and not in the minister.

He said that the regulator could on its own, upon complaints of consumer or a group of customers amend or cancel the license of a non-performing DisCo.

Fashola said that the powers of NERC to amend or cancel licenses is applicable to all licensed authorities, the transmission companies, generation companies, distribution companies and others under the Act.

“The power not to renew or to revoke operational license of any of the authority is in sections 73 and 74 of the Act and so, there is no monopoly granted any agency unless it is endorsed on their license.

“So, there is nothing that stops the regulator from licensing another person to do the same activities within their territory as DisCo.

“If you are not serving an area well, you will get a notice that consumers in the area are not happy and you will be given a time limit to deal with the problem.

“Upon failure to address the problem, the regulator can amend your license, take the area out of your territory and license it to another person or cancel the entire license,” he said.

Fashola said that state governments are empowered under the constitution to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas not covered by the national grid.

According to him, the states have been engaged in grid extension, taking the existing grid to where it has not reached.

He said states have constitutional powers to build their plant and set up their power authorities without being questioned.

The minister called on electricity consumers to protect power installations from abuse, vandalism, pay bills and also, be vanguards against energy theft.

In her remark, Ms Elizabeth Idigbe, the Managing Partner, Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors said the theme of the lecture was borne out of public and private sector concern.

She said that supply and availability of power is key to modern industrial economy and pivotal for increasing business development agenda.

Source: Worldstagegroup

Rwanda: Development of U.S.$5 Billion Green City to Begin Next Year

Development of a model green city in Kigali is set to get underway in January 2020, The New Times has learnt.

Relevant studies and designs will be completed by December, Eudes Kayumba, Deputy Team Leader of the Green City Pilot project, said.

The urban planner said that the green city will sit on 620 hectares in Kinyinya Sector, Gasabo District complete with a system that prevents environmental degradation and air pollution.

If completed on time, the planned city would be the first-of-its-kind in Africa.

The project aims to showcase the viability of green cities in Rwanda and elements that could be replicated in the development of secondary cities across the country with green technologies and innovations for green and climate resilient urbanisation.

He noted that even though the exact cost of the project is not yet known at the moment, “engineers have estimated between $4 billion and $5 billion.”

According to Kayumba, the funding will come from different stakeholders who have committed to pool resources to ensure the completion of the project.

He explained that the city will have clean technologies, electric vehicles, electric bicycle and motorcycle lanes, renewable energy, sustainable waste treatment, biogas plants, urban forests, among others.

“The estate will also have mini-factories with clean technologies, affordable housing, integrated craft production centres,” he said, adding that the private sector will be involved in all this. “We are conducting a study to estimate the jobs that will be created based on how the residents of the area generate income.”

Currently, Rwanda Green Fund (Fonerwa), with the financial support of the German Development Cooperation – through the KfW Development Bank – is undertaking a feasibility study for the Green Pilot, and contracted Sweco, a European engineering and architecture firm, to support the implementation of the project.

The engineer said the construction will mainly use local building materials which will make houses more affordable and environmentally sustainable.

“When studies get completed later this year, we will start implementation of the project, beginning with key infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads which will also benefit neighbouring communities,” he added.

He said communities surrounding the proposed green city will also be part of the broader green ecosystem.

The project, Kayumba said, “will not displace low-income earners, rather the proposed city will be built in such a way that low-income earners will be empowered.”

A section of the green city will be earmarked for low income earners, he noted.

Different contractors will take part in the project, he said. For instance, under the Cactus Green Park project, 410 houses with green spaces will be developed by Horizon Group Ltd on 13 hectares of land, he added.

Rwanda Social Security Board will develop affordable green houses on 125 hectares.

“There are aspects on social aspects, gender, and credit and loan schemes that will make it possible for low-income earners to access funding to buy affordable houses from the estate,” he said. “Some of them will pay for houses, others will get social houses because they cannot totally afford them on their own.”

Hubert Ruzibiza, chief executive officer of Fonerwa, a key financier in the project, said they were looking to leverage different sources of funding for the project implementation.

The fund has hitherto mobilised over $170 million for green projects in the country. It has so far funded 40 such projects.

“In the next cycle we are looking to mobilise funds to support green city e-mobility solutions, alternatives to use of wood fuel, smart agriculture, water sector,” he said.

Expert Tasks Architects on Local Content

Mr Dipo Ajayi, President, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), on Friday urged architects to start designing low cost buildings using local materials for affordability.

Ajayi gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of Lagos Architects Forum 2019, organised by the Nigeria Institute of Architects in Lagos.

Ajayi said that using local materials for architectural works would make building designs less expensive and affordable to low income earners.

He noted that greater percentage of the Nigerian population fell under the category.

According to him, most building designs are constructed with imported and high cost materials, and as a result, are expensive and not affordable to low income earners.

He said that the increasing population of Lagos State had made it imperative that low cost houses should be constructed to prevent further creation of slum areas by people who could not afford rent fees.

“At present, Lagos State population is about 21 million. This has resulted in a lot of slums in the state.

“It means that Lagos needs to play up its game to enhance housing and infrastructure development to meet up with the growing population.

“Therefore, architects need to come up with building designs which low income earners can afford so that, at least, 70 per cent of the population can have access to decent accommodation,” he said.

Ajayi added  that  a viable mortgage system was also imperative for tackling the challenges facing the housing sector in Nigeria.

He said that a viable mortgage system would strengthen homeownership for low income earners through, for instance, a rent-to-own financing system.

He said that lack of adequate financing was an obstacle to housing development, adding that there was the need for all stakeholders in the building industry to think outside the box in proffering the much needed financing solutions to the challenges facing the housing sector.

“Mortgage financing is an important contributor to economic growth through its multiplier effects. It is capable of promoting private residential investments, attracting foreign exchange inflow and increasing consumption spending on housing services.

“It is also capable of creating mass jobs for artisans and craftsmen such as electricians, welders, masons, painters, plumbers and to other high level professionals such as civil engineers, architects and structural designers,” Ajayi said.

According to him, availability of affordable home mortgage loans to a large portion of the population would serve the growth-enhancing and re-distributive objectives of the poverty-reducing policies of the government.

(NAN)

Hong Kong Property Prices to Rise for a Decade, Says UBS

Prices are set to rise for another decade in the world’s least affordable property market, Hong Kong, according to UBS Group AG.

Inflows of residents will be key as the Greater Bay Area project integrates a group of mainland Chinese cities with Hong Kong, property analyst John Lam wrote in a research report. The extra buyers will be “more than enough” to outweigh waning housing demand from an aging local population, he wrote.

That would extend a relentless climb that has seen the city’s property prices triple during the past two decades. The UBS report comes as three straight months of gains make it look as though a slide in home values from August through January was just a temporary blip. Prices rose for a 13th straight week, data Friday showed.

Lam estimates annual housing demand in the city to be 60,000 units over the coming decade, well above the government’s long-term supply target of 45,000 units per year.

Critical Mass

Hong Kong will see fewer private homes as the government focuses on public housing. The market has rebounded in recent months as sentiment revives on low interest rates and limited supply. People are flocking to purchase homes because of their fear of higher prices in the future.

At Wheelock Properties Ltd.’s project Montara in the Tseung Kwan O area, 103 potential buyers have been vying for each unit, making it the most competitive project since 2013, according to the Hong Kong Economic Times.

UBS is not alone in forecasting protracted price gains.

“There may be some short-term adjustments in prices, but they will continue to rise in the coming five to ten years,” said Bloomberg Intelligence real estate analyst Patrick Wong, citing population growth and limited land supply.

He expects prices to climb 10% this year.

Source: Bloomberg

It’s Time to Break up Facebook, Says Co-founder

Facebook Inc co-founder and former Mark Zuckerberg roommate, Chris Hughes, has called for the break-up of the social network in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be.

“Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American,” Hughes wrote on Thursday.

Facebook owns the largest social network with more than two billion users across the world.

It also owns WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than one billion people.

Hughes co-founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard with the company’s Chief Executive Officer Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.

He quit Facebook in 2007 and later said in a LinkedIn post that he made half a billion dollars for his three years of work.

“It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade.

“But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility,” said Hughes, who later was an online strategist for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In one of a number of security and privacy scandals to hit the company, Facebook is accused of inappropriately sharing information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Hughes said he last met with Zuckerberg in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks,” Hughes said.

“And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”

Hughes is not alone in asking for break-up of Facebook.

Some lawmakers have called for federal privacy regulation and anti-trust action to break up big tech companies.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren in March vowed to break up Facebook, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google if elected U.S. president to promote competition in the tech sector.

Reuters/NAN

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