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100 organisations, 100 years of affordable housing!

On the occasion of the 2nd International Festival of Social Housing and in conjunction with the “History of Social Housing in Europe” exhibition organised by USH – L’Union Sociale pour L’habitat, Housing Europe and AVS – Asociación Española de Gestores Públicos de Vivienda y Suelo, organised a celebration of more than 100 federations and social landlords, active for 100 years and more.

Welcoming remarks came from Cédric Van Styvendael, President of Housing Europe and Jerónimo Escalera Gómez, President of AVS, and last but not least, Carine Puyol of USH who presented the exhibition itself, and which can be found online here.

Champions time” – 100 providers with over 100 years of history

A small gift in the form of a clay plaque marking “100 years housing those in need” done in the traditional Andalucian style was given by AVS to the 100 year old federations and their members to celebrate their long histories and renew their commitment for years to come.

Limited profit housing cooperation EBG (Gemeinnützige Ein- und Mehrfamilienhäuser
Baugenossenschaft reg. Gen. m. b. H.
) of Vienna, founded in 1910, and represented by Alexander Gluttig were the first to accept their gift.

Followed by GBV (Österreichischer Verband gemeinnütziger Bauvereinigungen) the Austrian Federation of Limited-Profit Housing Associations represented by Dr. Gerlinde Gutheil-Knopp-Kirchwald. Their stock represents about a fifth of the total Austria housing stock and about 40% of multi-family housing.

Björn Mallants represented VVH (De Vereniging van Vlaamse Huisvestingsmaatschappijen) the representative umbrella organsiation of Flemish social housing companies. The total number of managed dwelling units by Vvh members: 150,000.

BL (Danmarks Almene Boliger) in Denmark was represented by Solveig Råberg Tingey. In Denmark, 1 out 6 people live in social housing.

Céline Reynaud, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Est Metropole Habitat shared how they aim to “participate in construction of a city with good life, conditions that are consistent and balanced” and who “place innovation at heart of its mission to invent new ways of living, in collaboration with inhabitants and partners”.

Laurent Ghekiere represented USH, whose original aim was to build a permanent link between different federations of social housing. In 2019, it has a role in national representation, information, support and assistance and to members and finally, a mission of reflection, analysis and study on all subjects related to housing.

Stéphane Dauphin and Bertrand Bret accepted the gift on behalf of Paris Habitat, founded in 1914, today managing around 120,000 homes.

Patrice Vitteaux accepted the prize on behalf of Polylogis, a French independent social landlord, with a turnover of €496 million and workforce of 1,260 people.

French not-for-profit public housing company Savoisienne habitat was represented by Samuel Rabillard. Savoisienne habitat focus on tailor-made quality and believe that the cooperative ideal is to ensure the best safety and protection of buyers.

German company Bauverein Halle was represented by Guido Schwarzendahl. Established in 1910, today they have more than 7,500 dwellings in four cities.

Özgür Öner accepted the prize on behalf of GdW (Bundesverband deutscher Wohnungs- und Immobilienunternehmen e.V.), the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies. GdW represents nearly 30% of all rental flats in Germany, about 1.2 million of which are social housing.

For over 125 years, The Iveagh Trust, represented by Gene Clayton, has offered has offered affordable rented housing to people on low incomes and has been a vital part of the architectural and social fabric of Dublin city.

Marcello Mazzù represented ATC (Agenzia Territoriale per la Casa), founded in 1907 and currently managing a housing stock of 30,000 units.

Marcello hung out on the podium for another while to accept the prize on behalf of FEDERCASA, the Italian Federation for Public Social Housing, who represent 80 public social housing companies and have done so for over a century.

Robin van Leijen represented Dutch housing association Welbions. In the Hengelo and Borne municipalities, 1 in 4 residents live in a Welbions home.

AFWC (Amsterdamse Federatie van Woning Corporaties) was represented by Egbert de Vries. AFWC’s nin housing associations own 42% of the total amount of dwellings in Amsterdam, offering an average rent of €488 a month.

José María Escolástico Sánchez accepted the gift on behalf of Viviendas Municipales de Bilbao, a local autonomous organisation attached to the housing area of Bilbao City Council.

Felipe Castro Bermúdez-Coronel represented Emvisesa Sevilla, who value “legitimacy, transparency, responsibility, innovation, quality and continuous improvement”.

Finally, Rebecca Omorgie accepted the gift on behalf of the Federation of Swiss Cooperatives (Wohnbaugenossenschaften schweiz ostschweiz regionalverband der gemeinnützigen wohnbauträger), who added a valuable additional view that we usually lack at EU level.

Summing up, as host of the event Sorcha Edwards, Secretary General of Housing Europe noted that it is clear from the individual stories of dedication from those organisations represented, that the sector continues to adapt to new challenges posed by  societal changes as it has done also over the last 100 years illustrated in the “History of Social Housing in Europe” exhibition. What the discussions that evening and throughout the festival also showed is that with the wrong policies, the capacity of systems to meet challenges, even those with a strong history, can be drastically weakened in a very short time. The right policies are vital to achieve resilience.

Source: Housing Europe

State signs Affordable Housing Deals with 26 Counties

The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with 26 counties to build affordable housing for Kenyans.

Each of the counties will construct at least 2,000 housing units

“We identified an additional 121 potential land sites with over 12,000 acres across 38 counties,” Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development CS James Macharia said.

The remarks were in a speech read on the CS’s behalf by Housing PS Charles Hinga during a two-day summit on affordable housing.

The forum in Nairobi brought together a global network of investors, developers, government officials, financial consultants, architects and technology providers.

Its objective was to identify effective and innovative affordable housing solutions for Africa and in particular Kenya.

The housing deficit in Kenya stands at 2 million and continues to grow at a rate of about 200,000 units a year, according to UN-Habitat.

UN-Habitat said there is a proliferation of informal settlements in urban areas with 61 per cent of the urban population living in slums in overcrowded homes typically with only one room and no adequate ventilation.

Macharia said Kenya is rapidly urbanising. However, the growth of urban population has not been matched by a similar pace in the development of urban housing and infrastructure.

“This has resulted into a backlog of about 2 million houses,” he said.

Kenya’s estimated annual urban housing demand is 250,000 units against an annual urban supply of 50,000, which mostly targets the high-end market.

Macharia said only two per cent of formally constructed houses target the lower income segment.

The Central Bank of Kenya says there were only 26,187 mortgages with an average loan size of Sh10.9 million in 2017.

“Arising from these challenges, slums and informal settlements have proliferated in our urban and peri-urban areas across Kenya,” Macharia said.

The government under its Big Four agenda wants to construct 500,000 affordable housing units by 2022.

Under the programme, the government is working on end-user financing and will be offering various purchase options including outright cash sales, tenant purchase (rent-to-own), and subsidised mortgages.

The government anticipates the housing developments will be attractive to members of co-operatives and employer-employee facilitated housing; among others.

County governments, the private sector, housing cooperatives, landowners and financiers among others have been roped in.

Components of the programme include mobilisation of affordable housing finance; land identification and registration; provision of supporting infrastructure; tapping of innovative construction technologies and materials.

Macharia cited the development of guidelines framework and identification of public land for the projects in Nairobi which include Park Road, Starehe, Shauri Moyo and Mavoko as milestones.

Slum upgrading and improvement of informal settlements which include Kibera, Marigu-ini and Kiambiu have also been identified, he said.

“Our first project to develop 1,370 units at Park Road is ongoing and the first phase comprising 288 units will be completed in November this year,”he said.

Macharia said MoUs have been signed with three jua kali cohorts that will provide doors, hinges and balustrades for the Project as a way of growing the informal sector.

The CS said the affordable housing project has received overwhelming support from developers, consortiums, financiers, landowners and innovative technology providers.

The government has proposed Housing Fund regulations, which will enhance contributions towards the fund and act as a vehicle to mobilise resources for the project.

Macharia said  various incentives and legislation have been established to facilitate both developers and future homeowners.

These include the stamp duty for first time home buyers having been zero-rated vide the Finance Act of 2018, thereby, reducing the burden of homebuyers.

“Other incentives include lower income tax rates for developers who are delivering 100 units or more, lower taxation on housing bonds at 10 percent provided interest shall not exceed Sh 300,000, and consideration for approvals such as the. NEMA and NCA levies which have been scrapped,”he said.

He said the project will double the contributions to GDP by the construction sector from 7 to 14 percent by 2022.

“We also anticipate the creation of some 350,000 direct and indirect jobs. For every USD 1 invested into the Program, we estimate that between USD 1.5 and USD 3 will be injected into the economy,” he said.

Source: star

Rwanda: World Bank Reaffirms the Country’s Low Debt Distress Risk Status

Rwanda’s debt level is at 32.9 per cent of GDP, which is below the critical threshold of 50 per cent.

Rwanda is one of only four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with low risk of debt distress, the World Bank has said.

The Bank rates countries’ risk of distress, which is categorised as high, moderate, in-distress, or low.

Aghassi Mkrtchyan, a Senior Economist at the World Bank, said Rwanda maintains a low debt distress through careful borrowing, proper loan management and high economic growth.

He was speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of 14th World Bank Rwanda Economic Update in the capital Kigali.

This comes at a time a majority of countries on the continent are said to be incurring more debt than they can handle partly due to terms of debt.

Rwanda’s debt level is at 32.9 per cent of GDP. 32.9 per cent is below the critical EAC threshold of 50 per cent.

Other low debt distress countries in Sub-Saharan Africa include Senegal, Tanzania, and Senegal.

The Ministry of Finance said in March that the country is able to keep its debt level low largely because of prioritisation of strategic projects and quality of the financiers.

The Government prefers concessional loans as opposed to market value loans, it said.

A concessional loan is credit that is extended on terms that are substantially more generous than market loans and are usually from international development financiers such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.

The loans have low interest rates and long grace periods with the possibility of further review.

On the other hand, market value loans are not only expensive but have shorter payment durations.

The share of concessional loans in the total debt stock stood at 63 per cent as of end 2018.

Mkrtchyan said that Rwanda still has room to borrow more to finance development projects given that recent investments have shown a high return on investment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in March said that Rwanda has shown prudent management of its debt while it continues to register notable progress in sustaining high and inclusive growth.

The economy grew by 8.6 per cent in 2018 driven by robust activities across different sectors of the economy and it is expected to grow by 7.8 per cent in 2019.

The World Bank Rwanda Economic Update released Tuesday confirmed that the economy expanded at 8.6 percent in 2018, adding that the headline inflation remained low at 1.2 percent as of March 2019.

The report also forecasts favourable economic outlook with growth expected to be in the range of 7.6 to 8 per cent annually

Source: New Times

BREAKING: 12 injured as 3 Storey Building Collapses in Lagos

A 3 storey building under construction has collapsed around Fagba in Iju area of Lagos, leaving 12 injured

New Telegraph gathered that the building caved in around 12 midnight and left many people trapped in the rubble.

Confirming the incident, the Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said that the unfortunate incident took place around 12 midnight.

Osanyintolu added that no life was lost in the incident though the evacuation was on going. He added that those injured had been evacuated and treated while some were taken to the hospital for further treatment.

He said: “This is just to inform you that a 3 story building collapsed at K Farm Fagba Off Iju road. It was a building under construction. The people there have been evacuated and the injured are responding to treatment.

“No mortalities recorded. All the Key Stakeholders that are important in managing Disaster in Lagos are on the ground . However, the building will be pulled to ground zero for safety of the people living in the area .”

He insisted that no life was lost in the tragic incident, adding that the 12 people rescued were being taken care of.
Osanyintolu, however, said that all the buildings near the collapsed building would be subjected to the structural integrity test to ascertain their strength.

“All the buildings adjacent/ beside the collapsed building will be subjected to solid material testing. For your information,” he said.

Source: newtelegraphng

Lagos Developer Defrauds 200 Accommodation Seekers of N50m

The police have arrested a real estate developer, Alabi Idowu, for allegedly defrauding over 200 intending tenants in a newly-constructed building at No. 1 Karimu Street, off Oyebanjo Street, Alapere, Ketu, Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the developer allegedly also posed as the landlord of the building to defraud the prospective tenants to the tune of N50m.

The developer, while negotiating with the accommodation seekers, reportedly informed them that finishing touches had to be applied on the building before they could move into their flats.

After payment, Idowu reportedly told his victims to meet him in the house on Monday, June 24, 2019, to receive the keys to their respective flats.

However, the developer was alleged to have released keys to some of the intending tenants before the agreed date.

One of the intending tenants, who identified herself simply as Shonibare, said over 200 persons were left stranded in front of the building, adding that some claimed to have paid for their flats when the building was at the foundation level.

Shonibare said, “I met him (developer) through my relation, Tobi, who had also paid for a flat in the house. After inspecting the house, the man, who claimed to be the owner of the house, introduced himself as Alabi Idowu. We immediately paid N180,000 into a Guaranty Trust Bank account in the name of Alabi Teslim Idowu, and N150,000 into an Access Bank account with the name, Tunde Adewale, his partner, and he gave us a receipt.

 

“He told us that he needed to fix the water closets in the flats and asked us to come to the house on Monday, June 24, to receive the keys to our flats.

“But on Saturday, Tobi informed my mum that something was going on with the house and when we got there, we met over 200 people sharing their experience of how they had been defrauded.”

The victims were said to have proceeded to the state secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, to protest because of the number of people and the amount involved.

During the protest, one of the victims, who did not want to be identified, said the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, while commiserating with them, said they should write a petition on the matter.

She said, “I got to the building around 7am and saw a lot of people fighting over the house. I saw about 20 people claiming to have paid for the same flat that I paid for. Over 200 people were tricked into paying for flats in the building and this made us to stage a protest to the state secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.

“As I speak to you, I am at the Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, where the developer is being detained after he was arrested when one of us called him and pretended that he wanted to pay the balance of his rent.

“He (the developer) knew that the man was not in Lagos when the fraud was discovered, so he gave him a location and the man mobilised policemen to arrest him. When we did the calculation of all those he had duped, the amount was over N50m.”

The representative of the original owners of the building, Sharafa Adeleke, said the developer was contracted to build and manage the property for 15 years.

Adeleke stated, “Our agreement was that he would give the family N300,000 and three flats after developing the house. But we were surprised that he kept telling us that he needed to fix some things in the house when it was clear that he had finished developing it.

“I insisted that he should give us the flats we agreed on and he told me to come on Saturday. I was still at home when I started receiving calls that a lot of people were in the premises, but the developer assured me that he would settle the matter before Tuesday.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said the command’s Special Fraud Unit had arrested the fleeing developer, adding that the original owners of the house were also victims of the fraud.

Elkana stated, “The son of the deceased landlord, Adeleke, had an agreement with the developer to complete the existing bungalow on the land. He also developed new flats on the remaining portion of the land and started collecting money from different persons in order to raise funds for the project.

“The house has only 15 flats but he collected money from over 100 persons and after completing the work, he handed over the keys to 15 persons. The trouble started when the rest of the victims came to occupy the apartments and they met other people there.

 

“The Special Fraud Unit of the command has arrested the developer, while Adeleke has been invited to the Alapere Police Station to give his statement. There are four developers involved from our record and about 120 victims have reported at our station and the amount collected, according to our calculation, is over N20m.”

Source: Punchng

PenCom: N3.4bn pension contribution not remitted into states employees’ RSAs

The National Pension Commission PenCom, on Wednesday, said over N3.4 billion pension contribution fund deducted by states from employees’ salaries was yet to be remitted into the employees’ Retired Savings Accounts (RSAs). The Acting Director-General, PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar disclosed this at the 2019 second quarter consultative forum consisting of critical pension stakeholders in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum, organised by the commission, consisted of critical pension stakeholders from all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The PenCom Acting Director General was represented by Mr Dan Ndackson, PenCom’s Head, State Operations Department.

The platform enables the stakeholders to brainstorm on challenges in the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) with a view to proffering solutions to such challenge within the ambit of the CPS. She said that a major item which should occupy a front burner during the deliberations was the recurring issue of non-remittances, which denies concerned employees the investment income that should have accrued to them.

According to her, based on the N3.4billion pension contributions not remitted into the RSA’s as May 31, over 38 per cent of the amount had been outstanding for over one year. “All hands must be on deck to address this problem holistically.

“The stakeholders must be mindful that the hopes of prospective retirees are hinged on the successful implementation of the CPS, which was instituted in response to the failure of the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS). “It is also heart-warming to observe the steady progress of CPS in some states, especially with regards to remittance of pension contributions. “Returns submitted to the commission by the PFAs further revealed that over N8.09 billion were remitted as pension contributions of state employees in the first quarter of 2019,” Dahir-Umar said. (NAN)

Source: Daily Trust

Shelter Afrique, Everest Ltd complete Sh720 mn Everest Park Phase II Project

The government has commended Pan-African housing development financier, Shelter Afrique for complementing it’s efforts to provide affordable housing one of the current administration’s development pillars.

Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Dr. Chris Obure, lauded Shelter Afrique and Everest Limited at the launch of the second phase of Everest Park Apartments, a multi-million-shilling property jointly owned by the two companies.

The mixed-use complex located in Mavoko area along Mombasa Road targets the growing low to middle-income population with units selling at Sh2.95 Sh4.95 and Sh6.5 million, for one, two and three bedrooms respectively.

“We appreciate the initiative by Shelter Afrique which is a Pan-African company for facilitating the financing of affordable housing for member states. Kenya is a major shareholder in Shelter Afrique, we, therefore expect that our investment will in turn benefit our citizens. I want to thank Shelter Afrique and Everest Limited for initiating such a project and it is our expectation that through Shelter Afrique we will see more of these arrangements in order to reduce the housing deficit and reach our target of 500,000 housing units by the year 2022,” Dr. Obure said.

The development consists of 60 one-bedroom units, 100 two-bedroom units, and 40 three-bedroom units.

The project is developed by The Everest Park Development, a Joint-Venture between Shelter-Afrique and Everest Limited. The two companies own the and upon which the project sits. Shelter Afrique further provided debt to the tune of Sh398 million and a standby facility amounting to Sh50 million.

“The completion of Everest Park Apartments Phase II is a continuation and reinforcement of our relationship and strong partnership with Everest Limited and a testimony of joint commitment to the development of affordable housing in Kenya,” said Shelter Afrique Managing Director & CEO Andrew Chimphondah.

In 2011 Shelter Afrique entered into a partnership with Everest Limited and developed Everest Park Phase I. The 240 units were developed at a cost of Sh755 million, marking the beginning of a long-term partnership between the two organizations.

“We believe unit cost of between Sh2.95 million and Sh4.95 million though not very affordable is within reach of many Kenyans, especially those in the middle class. Shelter Afrique aim is to make houses as affordable as Sh1.5 million,” Chimphondah said.

Everest Limited Managing Director James Muriuki said despite the challenges phased with Phase I of the project, the market was reacting positively to the second phase.

“We have sold 96 of the 200 units with one and two bedroom units being on high demand. We are upbeat about the uptake of the remaining units,” Muriuki said. 

Source: capitalfm

AfDB to Finance Road, Airport and Smart city in Ekiti State

The African Development Bank (AfDB) will be financing road project and upgrade of airport in Ekiti State. AfDB will also provide technical support for the development of a ‘smart city‘, a government project within the State.

AfDB showed interest in the infrastructure projects after the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi presented a proposal seeking the support of AfDB to complete the projects, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode disclosed.

Although the amount benchmark for the project was not disclosed, Oyebode in a statement, said the bank has pledged support to finance the upgrades and the agriculture processing zone project.

The smart city, which is known as the Ekiti Knowledge zone was also among the projects that compelled AfDB to express its readiness for technical and financial support, as the smart city was initiated to promote knowledge economy within the State.

 

Also, AfDB is supporting the projects due to the prospects of creating job opportunities for youths in Ekiti State, which could be applied as measures to curb kidnapping and banditry in the country, AfDB’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said during the meeting with Governor Fayemi.

While explaining his reason for approaching AfDB with the projects, Fayemi said infrastructure and industrial development are crucial to the growth of Ekiti State’s economy and these projects are in alignment with AfDB’s priorities.

“These are our local priorities. If you can support us, it will enable us to do some other things through our own limited resources.

“We have aligned our priorities to the AfDB’s priorities which apply to us, such as lighting up Africa; Feeding Africa; Industrialise Africa etc. All these apply to us as our plan is to make Ekiti a destination of choice for her citizens and all those who will like to live, work and invest in the state.

“To achieve this, we need to invest heavily in infrastructure. We want to fix the roads, have our small cargo airport that will aid agriculture and open our landlocked state to domestic and international markets and ultimately create jobs that our state urgently needs for its vibrant and educated youth population.” – Fayemi

Source: nairametrics

Real Estate: Harsh Operating Environment Threatening Business- Developer

Against the backdrop of the severe and harsh economic climate the real estate sector of the nation’s economy has found itself at least in the last three years in which business continuity is now being threatened, operators in the sector have no option than to engage in innovative thinking and actions, just as they have to diversify their revenue if they must remain in business.

Reviewing the performance of real estate sector at the just concluded 10th Annual General Meeting of Propertygate Development and Investment Plc in the year ended December 2018 in Lagos, at the weekend, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos-based real estate development company, Mr. Adetokunbo Ajayi, said “The last few years have been very challenging for the sector.

It recorded negative real GDP growth for the last three consecutive years (-6.86 percent in 2016, -4.27 percent in 2017 and -4.74 percent in 2018) respectively.

“Unfortunately, many of the factors accounting for the struggle of the sector are still much with us. Many operators in real estate development and services space have been hard hit by the lingering slowdown in the sector. They have suffered from acute revenue shortage to severe liquidity crunch.

“These have had devastating impact on many operators, even threatening their business continuity. Going forward is not an easy task, as some of the challenges are systemic in nature. However, innovative thinking and actions are required on the part of operators.

The need for diversification of revenue should be taken very seriously in view of the experience of the last three years. “Having a mono income source can put an operator in a severe strain when the business climate of the income source begins to falter.

Operators may also have to rethink their business structure and other operational strategy issues, products and services offering, funding mechanics and other fundamental issues critical to corporate success. “It is high time for vibrant industry groups to emerge, to seriously engage and collaborate with governmental authorities and other stakeholders on burning issues affecting the sector”, Ajayi noted.

According to him, Propertygate intends to focus its attention mainly on real estate development, pointing out that the company has over a decade operated more as a development trading company, adding that going forward, it intends to do more in development for investment for strategic reasons.

“Propertygage is exiting property advisory services. With exit from advisory offering, the company is currently holding a significant stake in PG Readzon Services, a real estate and allied services firm. This will help the revenue diversification goal of the company.

It intends to push the diversification goal forward by deliberately pursuing investments in other carefully selected areas and ventures. “The company continues to recognize that people are central to its drive in building a sustainable business institution. It will strive to recruit, develop, motivate and reward needed personnel, who will help its vision, mission and corporate goals.

The Board which has been a major pillar of the company gave needed support in critical areas including driving corporate governance during the year 2018, and has pledged its commitment to do more in future.

“The customers, who are our other major stakeholders, will continue to occupy a supreme position in our considerations and actions. We will also not fail to give due attention and regards to all our other stakeholders”, Propertygate boss assured.

On operating environment during the period under review, he said the year 2018, was dominated   by flurry of political activities, as the country prepared for general elections that were scheduled for early 2019. He revealed that investments, local and foreign, slowed down as the year drew to an end.

“Some investors (corporate and individuals) held back, and would not commit until after the elections. On the economic front, the country recorded a GDP growth of 1.93 percent by the end of 2018. That was an improvement compared to 0.82 percent  growth recorded in 2017. The year also ended on a positive note with a GDP growth of 2.38 percent in the last quarter of 2018.

“Looking at the performance of the real estate sector during the period, the results disclosed a sector in troubled waters. It recorded a negative annual  real GDP   growth  of -4.74  percent  for  the year; a   further   decline compared to   -4.27  percent recorded in 2017. Quarter 4 result was equally negative, with a real GDP growth of -3.85  percent.

Source: vanguardngr

Experts say Infrastructure, Security, Channel Expansion will Position Nigerian ports as W/African hub

For Nigerian ports to attain hub status with capacity to attract transshipment cargoes (meant for landlocked countries), there is need for the Federal Government to invest in building supporting infrastructure, address waterways security concerns and improve efficiency in service delivery, experts say.

Landlocked countries are countries that lack territorial access to the sea and are geographically secluded from international markets. They, therefore, depend on neighbouring countries to transit their export and import cargo to other markets.

Owing to Nigeria’s location, its ports can serve as transit for import and export cargo for landlocked countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad.

But Nigerian ports are currently recording low throughput volume due to inefficiency, high cost of doing business, poor infrastructure and difficulty in hinterland connectivity.

“Infrastructure is critical to attaining the hub status. For example, Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports were planned over 20 to 30 years ago. The supporting infrastructure has not grown but the volume of cargoes in these ports has grown tremendously,” said Aamir Mirza, managing director, West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) located at Onne Port, Rivers State.

“The entire hinterland connecting infrastructure has to be upgraded along with the upgrading of the terminals to enable the handling of increased volume of cargo,” he said.

Nigerian-billed cargoes are currently diverted to other West African ports that run more efficient system with deeper depth and capacity to accommodate mega ships with 8,000-20,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), findings show. Nigeria runs the risk of losing even more cargo if the challenges are left unaddressed.

Compared with Apapa, Nigeria’s premier port, which has 13 metres draft, the Port of Lome in Togo has draft of up to 15.5 metres, Cotonou Port has draft of 15 metres, Tema Port in Ghana to has draft level of 19 metres at the completion of the expansion, and Cameroon Container Terminal has 16 metres draft, according to a study tagged ‘Nigeria Poorest Rating of 183 on the Ease of Trading Across Borders’. The study did a comparative analysis of the waterways infrastructure of five West African ports including Nigeria.

Lucky Amewiro, managing director, Eyis Resources Ltd, promoters of the study, said the state of the nation’s seaports allows most Nigerian shipment to be shipped through other West African ports.

Amewiro said Nigeria lost the transit status to neighbouring West African ports due to lengthy and cumbersome procedure involved in cargo clearing, outdated procedure, lack of modern transit facilities, lack of transit module, and lack of coordinated government agencies.

“There is need to re-claim our cargo from neighbouring countries’ ports that are hub for Nigerian cargoes, by working out mechanism for a better developed regional hub to consolidate on the destination of Nigerian cargo that has been siphoned by regional ports,” he said.

Amewiro, a former member, Presidential Taskforce on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service, said Nigeria needs to look into the issues of port inefficiency associated with unwholesome practices and manipulated delays by providers of shipping services and other government agencies which result in payment of high demurrage, rent and transaction cost.

“Nigeria Customs has not deployed the scanners that are required. An additional tool we need to deploy for trade facilitation is the single window. That is also another infrastructure ports in neighbouring countries have that make cargo clearance fast and seamless. If you deploy single window, every agency will now key into that,” said Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

The port operational activities from the NPA show the number of vessels that called at the ports dropped by 7.3 percent to 969 in the third quarter of 2018, from 1,045 recorded in the same period in 2017. Containerised imports dropped by 9.9 percent to 368,976 TEUs, from 409,454 TEUs recorded in 2017.

Mirza of WACT said terminal operators were investing massively in terminal development to attract more cargo. However, the effort would be futile if the connectivity from the port to the hinterland was not reliable due to lack of government investment in fixing the roads, he said.

“Addressing the issue of waterways security for the shipping lines will help reduce the premium charge paid to vessel owners by importers due to security threats from pirate attacks. Dredging of channels will aid navigation, and investment in road construction will attract bigger ships to come to our ports,” he added.

Jonathan Nicol, president, Shippers Association of Lagos State, said Nigeria needs to bring back its importers who have taken their businesses to other countries by making the trade platforms simple.

“This government needs to look at the Ease of Doing Business by making reasonable adjustment in the system. We need to focus on removing risks and bottlenecks in the supply chain. Cargo clearing process is another problem we must address, and it includes the road problems,” Nicol said.

Source: BusinessdayNg

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