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IMPROVED HOUSING DOUBLES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA BUT MILLIONS REMAIN IN SLUMS

A new study led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford has revealed that improved housing had doubled on the African continent between 2000 and 2015.

The study published in the “Nature International Journal of Science” is the first accurate estimate of urban and rural housing quality in sub-Saharan Africa and was done using state-of-the-art mapping. While highlighting the positive transformation in the region, the prevalence of improved housing doubling from 11% in 2000 to 23% in 2015, the study also estimates that 53 million urban Africans (in the countries analyzed) still lived in slum conditions in 2015.

Lead author Dr. Lucy Tusting, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who conducted the work while at the Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford, said: “Adequate housing is a human right. The housing need is particularly urgent in Africa where the population is predicted to more than double by 2050. A remarkable development is occurring across the continent but until now this trend had not been measured on a large scale.

These results are a crucial step to reaching sustainable development goals as quickly as possible, and show that African housing is transforming, with huge potential to improve human health and wellbeing.”

 

Adequate housing is integral to many associated health outcomes including mental health, respiratory disease, diarrhoeal disease, and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria. Addressing the housing needs of a growing population is, therefore, key to sustainable urban development and the health and wellbeing of millions of Africans.

 

The researchers say these new data will be vital to guide interventions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 which aims for universal access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and to upgrade slums by 2030. Graham Alabaster from UN-Habitat emphasized that “the opportunity and need for better housing will be an answer to Africa which is faced with a rapid shift in economic and demographic profile”.

To produce these new estimates, the researchers combined data from 661,945 households from 31 countries into a model using an innovative technique that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the African continent. Housing was categorized using the United Nations description, where houses with improved water and sanitation, sufficient living area and durable construction were considered to be improved. Housing lacking any one of these features was considered to be unimproved.

The prevalence of improved housing was highest in countries including Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe, and lower in countries such as South Sudan. The researchers also found that the housing transition may be linked to economic development. Improved housing was 80% more likely among more educated households and twice as likely in the wealthiest households, compared to the least educated and poorest families.

Senior author Dr. Samir Bhatt from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London said: “These findings highlight that poor sanitation remains commonplace across much of sub-Saharan Africa, which may be holding back progress to improve living conditions. Our study demonstrates that people are wisely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure.” To be able to meet SDG 6 – Clean water and Sanitation.

“The changes that we have observed are incredibly significant, especially since households mostly paid for these improvements with their own incomes and no external financing. From a public health perspective, this trend presents a massive opportunity for African governments to accelerate ongoing efforts against vector-borne diseases such as malaria, and to secure such gains for the long-term said” Dr Fredros Okumu, Director of Science at Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, and a co-author of the paper

The authors acknowledge the limitations of their study including the difficulty of using a single definition to capture the full range of housing conditions across sub-Saharan Africa. The study also relied on national surveys which may not be directly comparable due to variation in their methods and data collection procedures, and which represent a limited sample of African households.

Dr Tusting was supported by a fellowship from the UK Medical Research Council to conduct this work.

Why Obaseki is embarking on luxury apartments devt in Benin, by EDPA

The Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA) has said its foray into luxury apartment development in Benin City, the Edo State Capital is a response to the changing dynamics in the business community in the city ushered in by the booming private sector presence.

Executive Chairperson, EDPA, Isoken Omo, in a chat with journalists, said that the state government is backing the project because it aligns with its vision to open up the state for development and provide a conducive environment for investors to do business.

Recall that the agency recently signed an agreement with Iron Projects Limited for development of 18-unit luxury apartment in Central Road, Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin City, being the first of such project in the state.

Omo said that the state government’s contribution to the project is just the landed property and provision of necessary support for the realization of the project, as there was no funding commitment on the side of government.

According to her, “The project will meet part of the housing requirements by providing shelter but more importantly, it will create economic activities which will drive employment and encourage people to come and live, work and enjoy Benin. Businesses in the state will also benefit hugely from this investment. New lines of businesses will open up as a result of this project.”

She continued, “We have hotels in Benin, like Protea Hotels and Best Western Hotel, which cater for high value individuals that come to do business in the state, but they are not sufficient because of the numbers of such visitors.

“Our development will be completely furnished and serviced to provide a home away from home for visitors. Its proximity to the Edo State Government House, Benin Airport and the Golf Course, coupled with the serenity of the location, will make it a must-have for frequent visitors to the State. We already have interested buyers for the units.”

Source: Thenationonlineng

What you need to know about Oyedepo’s multi-billion naira Canaan City

Canaan City, a multi-billion naira housing project being developed by the Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo has been opened for habitation. There are certain things you need to know about this city.

The project, a mortgage scheme which is one of the most affordable housing schemes in the country today gives church staff 30 years to pay up while also giving members convenient time frames to pay for houses of their choice and capability.

Canaan City project was first announced a few years ago during Shiloh. The Estate which has a fence of several kilometers will have its own police station, fire service station, shopping malls, parks and gardens, sport centers, swimming pools and Independent Power Plant (IPP), among other facilities.

On completion, Canaan City with ranges of homes from affordable one bedroom flats to duplexes and terraces is billed to become the largest housing estate in Africa.

The 15,000 housing estate called ‘Canaan City’ would be the second largest single housing estate in the world, second only to the Co-Op City Estate, a 15,342 housing estate located in Bronx, New York and built between 1968 and 1973 in the USA housing over 56,000 people.

Like it is at the various estates within the Redemption Camp of the Pastor Enoch Adeboye led Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Canaan City is not open for sale to non-members of the Church.

 

Source: PMNewsNigeria

Housing Department Charges Facebook With Discrimination

he U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today filed charges against Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination through the tech giant’s advertising platform.

HUD claims Facebook discriminates against users by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook’s platforms and across the internet. The complaint also charges that Facebook mines extensive data about its users and then uses the data to determine which of its users view housing-related ads based on these protected characteristics.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Facebook pledging to do more to protect users from discrimination on its site. On March 19, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced in a blog post that changes “will better protect people on Facebook.”

Sandberg stated: “Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall. Multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.”

In a new blog post today announcing a better way to learn about ads on Facebook, product manager Satwik Shukla said the company is updating its archives to make it easier to learn about all Facebook ads and the pages that run them.

“We’re committed to creating a new standard of transparency and authenticity for advertising,” said Shukla, adding: “By the end of June, we’ll roll out transparency tools for political or issue ads around the world.”

HUD claims Facebook enabled advertisers to exclude people whom Facebook classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture; or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes. HUD also accuses Facebook of allowing advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those neighborhoods on a map.

HUD’s charge also asserts that Facebook “uses the protected characteristics of people to determine who will view ads regardless of whether an advertiser wants to reach a broad or narrow audience. HUD claims Facebook combines data it collects about user attributes and behavior with data it obtains about user behavior on other websites and in the non-digital world.

Facebook then allegedly uses machine learning and other prediction techniques to classify and group users to project each user’s likely response to a given ad, and in doing so, may recreate groupings defined by their protected class.”

The charge concludes that by grouping users who have similar attributes and behaviors (unrelated to housing) and presuming a shared interest or disinterest in housing-related advertisements, Facebook’s mechanisms function just like an advertiser who intentionally targets or excludes users based on their protected class.

“Even as we confront new technologies, the fair housing laws enacted over half a century ago remain clear—discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law,” said HUD General Counsel Paul Compton. “Just because a process to deliver advertising is opaque and complex doesn’t mean that it exempts Facebook and others from our scrutiny and the law of the land. Fashioning appropriate remedies and the rules of the road for today’s technology as it impacts housing are a priority for HUD.”

Source: Forbes

NHF Bill: Experts differ on implications for the economy

Among the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) and its Member States, “housing for all” forms one of the specific targets to be achieved by 2030.

But 2030 is almost here, even as the issue of housing deficit continues to become worse; despite claims by successive governments to have tackled the perennial problem in their bits.

Recently, there have been debates coming from different quarters in Nigeria regarding the proposed National Housing Fund (NHF) bill, which is currently awaiting Presidential assent.

Several top financial and tax analysts have rightly argued different sides to the NHF bill and its possible impacts on Nigeria. And while some are calling for the bill to be scrapped, others are throwing their weights behind it.

How housing development impacts the economy

In economic terms, the development of the housing sector forms an integral part of any country’s economic progress. Whether it is construction, rental or sale, each layer contributes spiral effects on the economy.

Basically, the influences of the housing sector on national economies can be summarised. Firstly, while housing fulfills a basic human need for shelter, it also provides the base from which households participate in the economy.

Secondly, housing is the largest single asset most households will accumulate during their lifetime. Therefore, housing constitutes an important part of most countries’ stock of wealth.

An overview of Nigeria’s acute housing deficit

Despite having an estimated population of over 190 million population, Nigeria’s housing sector has been characterized by a housing deficit estimated at 18 million units.

Earlier reports from the World Bank (as cited by Global Property Guide) shows that Nigeria needs about 700,000 additional units each year for the next 20 years.

However, recent Reports have shown that for the nation to upturn the high deficit figure, an additional 2 million housing unit per annum will be required for the next 10 years.

Like Nigeria, other nations equally affected

The UN-Habitat report for 2016 shows that globally, one in eight people live in slums. In total, around 1 billion people live in slum conditions today. According to the UN, the numbers are continuously increasing.

The majority of the slum dwellers are in developing economies. In spite of great progress in improving slums and preventing the formation of slums, 30 percent of the urban population living in slums in developing countries.

It was further reported that 35% of the world population lives in unimaginable housing situations, representing over 2 billion today.

Recent declines

It has been revealed that the Nigerian housing sector has recently been declining, especially so during the better part of the last 5 years. Moreover, when compared to the housing sectors of some of the most advanced countries in the world, the Nigerian housing sector still has a long way to go. For instance, the Housing sector in countries like the US and Australia boasted largest in terms of the sector’s contributions to GDP and the highest employer of the labour force.

More investments needed to close housing deficits

Recent online statistics have revealed that the Nigerian housing sector would need about $400 billion investment over the next 25-30 years to reconcile this deficit.

Also, reports have shown that the World Bank stated N59.5 trillion would be needed to adequately meet the housing needs of Nigerians.

To corroborate this, the Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Economic Matters, Mr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, during the second Nigeria Housing Finance Conference in Abuja in 2018, stated the following:

“GOVERNMENT IS GIVING FHF N100 BILLION YEARLY FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WITH ANTICIPATION THAT IT IS GOING TO LEVERAGE ONE TRILLION NAIRA OF PRIVATE RESOURCES.”

Analysts at loggerheads on the impact of proposed NHF law

Recall, that the revised National Housing Fund Law was recently passed by the National Assembly and submitted to the President. Nairametrics also joined in the debate, highlighting the possible elevated costs it could entail for several businesses in the country.

Global tax and consulting conglomerate, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has also opined that the “proposed law is a bad idea”.

The Head of Tax and Regulatory Services at PwC Nigeria and Tax
Leader for PwC West Africa, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, called for the total withdrawal of the bill. The tax guru stated:

“THE MAIN OBJECTIVE OF NHF SHOULD NOT BE JUST TO MAKE AFFORDABLE FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR HOUSING BUT TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT MAKES AFFORDABLE HOUSING POSSIBLE. TO ACHIEVE THIS, NIGERIA MUST ADOPT A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO THE CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR OF WHICH AFFORDABLE FINANCING IS ONLY A COMPONENT.”

He further stated the following:

“THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO MARKED PROGRESS TO SHOW FOR THE 27 YEARS OF ESTABLISHING THE NHF IS PROOF THAT NIGERIA’S HOUSING PROBLEM CANNOT BE SOLVED BY SIMPLY
THROWING MORE MONEY AT THE PROBLEM.”

On the contrary, some people are of the opinion that the NHF law is a good thing for the Nigerian economy. The Founder and Publisher of Nairametrics, Mr. Ugohukwu Obi Chukwu, threw his weight behind the proposed NHF bill thus:

“NHF IS A CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS ACQUIRING AN ASSET, IN THIS CASE, A HOME. IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT NHF IS A RELIEF AGAINST TAX.

“NIGERIA’S PROPERTY MARKET FACES A PAUCITY OF FUNDS, THUS A LAW THAT MANDATES EVERY EMPLOYEE TO CONTRIBUTE A PART OF THEIR EARNINGS TOWARDS OWNING A HOME IS IMPORTANT. JUST LIKE PENSION FUNDS, NHF POOLS FUNDS FROM EVERY EMPLOYEE ALLOWING CONTRIBUTORS TO BORROW MONEY AGAINST OWNING A HOME.”

The financial expert further stated:

“NHF HAS LARGELY UNDERPERFORMED DUE TO THE WAY IT WAS STRUCTURED THUS THE CHANGE OF THE LAW. BEFORE NOW NHF WAS NOT MANDATORY WHICH WAS WHY IT DID NOT HAVE THE FUND SIZE REQUIRED TO CREATE LOANS AND SUPPORT THE HOUSING SECTOR. BY MAKING IT MANDATORY, MORE FUNDS WILL BE CHANNELED TO THE FUND MAKING IT EASIER FOR CONTRIBUTORS TO BORROW.

THIS IS A SIMILAR MODEL TO WHAT ESUSU’S HAVE USED EFFECTIVELY FOR YEARS NOW. A ROBUST NHF WILL ALSO HELP CREATE NEW FINANCIAL SERVICES PRODUCTS SUCH AS HEDGING AND DERIVATIVES WHICH WILL HELP REDUCE LENDING RISKS.”

Similarly, a housing industry expert, Mr. John T. Ikyaave, described the recent passage of the revised NHF bill as a positive development. According to him:

“THE NEW NHF BILL, WHICH IS NOW AWAITING THE ASSENT OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, WOULD SUPPORT THE PROVISION OF HOUSING LOANS AT BEST AND LOWEST MARKET INTEREST RATES OF BETWEEN SIX AND NINE PERCENT THAT CAN BE PAID FOR A PERIOD OF UP TO 35 YEARS.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of AfriSwiss Capital Management Limited, Mr. Kalu Aja, faulted the NHF proposed law;

“THE PROPOSED NHF LAW TAKES PRIVATE SECTOR PROFITS AND TRANSFERS TO A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM, WITHOUT IMPOSING A TAX. IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNEMNT CAN UNILATERALLY DEBIT PROFIT BEFORE TAXES (PBT), THEN WHAT STOPS ANOTHER GOVERNMENT DEBITING PBT TO FUND “WATER FOR ALL?

“THE PROPOSED LAW ACCUMULATES SAVINGS AT A NEGATIVE RATE , THUS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY COST TO “SAVERS”. ALL THESE WITHOUT A MENTION OF THE LAND USE ACT, CREDIT RATING EVEN COST OF HOMES.”

He stated further,

“RATHER THAN A PUNITIVE FUND, TAKE THE UNCLAIMED DIVIDEND FUND AND “LEND” TO THE NMRF AT 2% PER ANNUM FOR A 30 YEAR ZERO COUPON BOND. TRANSFER THE NLNG DIVIDENDS TO THIS FUND AS WELL. CREATE A N1TRILLION REFINANCE FUND, LET DEVELOPERS BUILD AFFORDABLE HOMES…..THEN SECURITIZE THE RENTALS INTO A MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITY AND SELL TO THE NMRF….AS WAS DESIGNED.”

Source: NairaMetrics

MTR Gardens: New urban community where OPIC offers affordable luxury

When the moving construction machines of the Ogun State Property Investment Corporation (OPIC) arrived Isheri area of the state in August 2015, many did not believe in their ability to deliver what stand today as luxury homes, and also an urban community offering  strong value propositions.

This was because, Isheri,  a sleepy rural community, had huge environment challenges that devastated property values. The part of the community where MTR Gardens is sitting today was  a waterlogged waste land that posed a security risk being a hideout for miscreants.

The terrain was difficult to access, leading to a tough and  difficult  development process that involved different stages of reclamation, flood channelization and raft foundation  to ensure structural stability of the coming buildings.

Today, the Isheri story has changed and, according to Jide Odusolu, the OPIC managing director and special adviser to the Ogun State governor on property and investment, “what we are doing here, apart from creating homes, is also a form of economic expansion in which we are creating economic urban communities and resolving environment challenges”.


OPIC has been in existence for over 30 years, but in the last eight years, has been a veritable tool in the state government’s infrastructure development, economic expansion and internal revenue generation.

“Before this administration came on board, OPIC in over 30 years delivered a maximum of 200 housing units, all of them in Agbara. They also built about three kilometers of roads; but in the last eight years, OPIC   has delivered about 2000 housing units and also done over 40 kilometres network of  roads in our various estates”, Odusolu disclosed to journalists on tour of the facilities recently.

MTR Gardens, located on KM6 along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Way, is the corporation’s latest housing development. It is a 180-unit premium apartment-styled community comprising 150 units of 3-bedroom apartments and 30 units of 2-bedroom apartments in 25 and 3 blocks respectively.

The estate which targets upper middle class buyers boasts dedicated power supply, paved roads/walkways, portable water, packaged sewage plant, and sit-out areas. The rooms are very specious for both the 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom, each with ensuite maid-room and three parking spaces for each apartment. Recreational facilities include multi-purpose gym, swimming pool, basketball court and a neighbourhood mall to answer to the domestic needs of residents.

Apartments in this Garden which offers both investment and residential opportunities attract competitive market prices. Buyers and investors have the option of buying fully completed apartments or shells in which case they have to do the finishing by themselves. But there is price differential.

Whereas a completed 3-bedroom apartment sells for N32 million, the shell variant goes for N24 million. As for 2-bedroom, a completed apartment sells for N18.5 million while the shell goes for N14 million.

Buyers also have the option of paying outright or going through mortgage facilities provided by Gateway Mortgage Bank, Homebase Mortgage Bank and Trustbond Mortgage Bank Plc at 18 percent interest rate repayable in 15 years .

The managing director informed that  MTR Gardens, which is designed to have  the same scale of what  obtains in 1004  Estate in Lagos without the stress and pressure there, is the first of a three-phased development, disclosing that the second phase promises 600 apartments.

“The third phase of this project is going to be a commercial city with office building and shopping mall; the concept of what we are doing is to recreate this area in such a way that it is not just enough to live in Ogun, but to also work and thrive in the state. We want to make people start seeing this place as home where they can live, work and play”, he said.

Odusolu, whose eight-year stint in OPIC shall be elapsing in May this year, says it is gratifying for him to have been a part of the journey that made the transformation that Ogun has seen within this period.

Source: Chuka Uroko

Millions Fear Losing Their Homes Across Africa – Survey

Cape Town — Tens of millions of urban dwellers in Sub-Saharan Africa live in fear of losing their homes against their will, a new study says.

The study, which its authors describe as “ground-breaking”, shows that in 18 countries surveyed, nearly 32 million adults in urban areas are “insecure in their rights to their home and land.”

Projected across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, “that means there could be more than 60 million adults living in urban areas… who are tenure insecure,” the study adds, and if the trend continues, the insecurity could afflict more than 210 million by 2050.

Measuring security of tenure is one of the indicators used to assess progress in attaining the first of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is the eradication of poverty.

The study was carried out by Prindex, an initiative launched by two think tanks – the Global Land Alliance and the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) – with support from the Omidyar Network. It also covered countries in South-East Asia, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East and, in Europe, the United Kingdom.

Surveyed on their expectations for the next five years, one in four adults across 33 countries said they were likely or very likely to lose their homes.

Anna Locke of the ODI said the survey showed for the first time “that every morning, hundreds of millions of people around the world wake up fearing they might lose their home. This should make us reconsider how we think about development.”

The findings were “alarming”, added Malcolm Childress of the Global Land Alliance: “People who are insecure in their homes often struggle to plan for their future, invest money or get an education.”

Locke said a finding that women felt less secure than men in event of divorce or death of their partner was “particularly striking – it shows there is a long way to go in meeting the aspiration of equal economic rights for women worldwide.”

The survey showed that although in general Sub-Saharan Africans perceive they have less security of tenure than do people living in other parts of the world, there was one particularly surprising exception. Of the 33 nations surveyed, Rwanda did best, with only eight percent of urban dwellers feeling their tenure threatened – fewer than in the United Kingdom.

Burkina Faso and Liberia did worst, with 44 percent and 43 percent of adults respectively fearing losing their homes. In Burkina Faso, respondents cited their biggest fears as being government seizures of their property, family disputes, company seizures and problems with local and customary authorities. Family disputes ranked high among the worries of Liberians as well.also.

The percentage of people feeling at risk in their homes in other countries surveyed, ranging from those feeling most insecure to least insecure:

  • Benin 34 percent, Nambia 32 percent, Cameroon 31 percent;
  • Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Niger 28 percent, Zambia 27 percent, Ghana and Uganda 26 percent;
  • Madagascar 25 percent, Mozambique 24 percent, Nigeria 22 percent, Malawi, Senegal and Tanzania 21 percent.

Other reasons for tenure insecurity cited: government seizures in Malawi, Rwanda and Senegal; family disputes in Ghana; concern at owners or renters asking people to leave in Madagascar and Rwanda; and death of a household member in Nigeria, Ghana and Niger.

Source: Prindex

How residents grapple with challenges of communal living in serviced estates

Apart from income, people also put into consideration the availability and functional infrastructure such as good roads and drainage, waste management, security, serenity and attractiveness of environment as well as adequate supply of power and water when deciding where to live.

Gated estates are generally upscale residential communities designed for affluent individuals. They provide a lot of benefits to the residents that live within them, but services are not free lunch.

Every gated estate has a central management authority, an outsourced facilities managing firm or Home Owners Association that maintains the facilities and ensures residents enjoy them to the fullest.

Olumide Akinyemi, project manager at Global Limited, posited that why high profile individuals reside in gated communities goes beyond comfortable access to facilities and amenities, but issues of security, privacy, and exclusivity of the amenities are of concern to them.

A report by AfrAsia Bank, an institution authorized and regulated by Bank of Mauritius, titled ‘2018 Wealth Report’  affirms  that an increasing number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) prefer to live in gated communities and estates.

The institute cites security, facility, quality  and design of houses, views, scenery  and wildlife as well as price growth potentials as factors influencing the decisions of HNWIs to inhabit gated communities.

But these upscale communities, as attractive as they seem, are not without challenges of varying degrees for residents, landlords, estate developers and facilities managers who provide and manage facilities and services used by the residents.

Most of these estates are serviced, meaning that services are provided and paid for by the residents either collectively or individually. The payments are made in form of service charge which has become a major feature of most estates and a source of contention. In most cases they pose challenges.

“The private estates or residential housing requires the services of facilities managers because a lot of the people who live there are middle income professionals who live there hoping to leverage economy of scale to get the kind of services they need”, explained chief executive of a frontline facilities management and services firm, who pleaded to be anonymous.

 

The economic downturn in the country is, however, making it difficult for some of these residents to meet their obligations in terms of rents and service charge payments, leading to serious frictions between residents and landlords or residents and service providers as the case may be.

“Many of  these mid-come professionals who worked in oil and gas companies or banks have lost their jobs, the income of some of them has reduced and they are therefore struggling to pay their service charge. Even many of them are defaulting in paying their rents”, the chief executive revealed.

In some cases, however, frictions arise not from loss of job or income, but from rising costs which has in turn jerked up service charge in many estates.  “Rising cost of maintenance has increased   sharply  to between 30 percent and 40 percent”, according to Mojisola Akingbade, an estate manager, who expressed fear that sooner than later, cost of maintaining a building might outstrip the rents.

Our  findings  on four key facilities including  power, water, sewage disposal and security in three gated estates in Lagos namely Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi; Cable Point Estate in Lekki Phase I and 1004 Estate in Victoria Island reveal near-common experiences by residents.

Though residents have their comfort and enjoy serenity, attractive landscape, tight security, and clean environment with slight variations in terms of power and water, service charge payments remain a major issue the service providers have to contend with.

In terms of security, a visit to these estates shows that they are well secured for habitation. A domestic staff who has been working in 1004 Estate for six years, told us that tight security in the estate was a major selling point.

The staff, who did not want to be named, explained that a significant number of occupants of the estate are foreigners (particularly Chinese and Indians) and a major reason for this, according to him, is because the environment is safe.

“About 90 percent of the residents are Chinese and Indians. The estate appeals to them because they are confident that their lives and valuables are secured; you cannot enter here anyhow; there are protocols. You cannot find these foreigners in non-gated areas where there are often cases of armed robbery. Things like that scare them,” he said

Talking about the service charge for security, he said residents are billed and payments are remitted to the Home Owners and Residents Association (HORA) office.  Efforts to get the amount paid by residents were fruitless as the HORA office was reluctant to provide such information.

A visit to Cable Point Estate, Lekki Phase I gave a similar picture of 1004 estate as regards security. One of the estate residents, who introduced himself simply as Biodun, told us that the estate management office does not joke with security.

“This is how we operate here. It is mandatory for everyone to sign-in before they get access into the estate. You cannot find people wandering aimlessly here”, Biodun said.

At Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, it is the same trend. Fortune Olakunle, who works in one of the hotels within the estate, told us that visitors were scrutinized before gaining access. “There are guards stationed at the gate, both armed and unarmed. A car search is conducted before motorists are allowed in.

“Non-residents are required to call their hosts before being allowed into the estate. This is why there are no known recorded cases of armed robbery or violent crimes within the estate”, Olakunle said.

Power is supplied to the sampled estates by Eko Distribution Company, but reliance on public power supply varies among the estates. At 1004, it was gathered that the estate has a central generating plant beside Civic Centre that supplies power to the estate.

“Before, the estate relied on public electricity, but not anymore. If public electricity goes off, within the next 20 seconds, the power plant picks up”, a resident in the estate disclosed.
Asked about the service charge for power, the resident who pleaded anonymity explained that apartments were metered to individual residents and payment is commensurate with consumption.

The same thing applies to Cable Point estate. The resident explained that although the estate gets power from public sources, it is not dependent on them because of frequent outages associated with public power.  “You know the country we live in. Power is epileptic. The estate has its own plant that serves residents. The plant runs 24 hours in the absence of public power supply”, he said.

Checks at other areas around Cable Point estate revealed that residents were not impressed with the power situation. Emmanuel Nweke, a resident at Lai Yusuf Crescent adjacent Cable Point, said “sometimes we live two days without power. They also give us three straight days without interruption, but this is rare. We are not happy.”

Unlike 1004 and Cable Point, it was gathered that Osborne has no central generating plant that serves residents in case of power interruption. “Majority of residents complement public power with generators and inverters”, a resident confirmed.

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“There is nothing like crazy bills. All buildings have prepaid meteres. For instance, in my office, we pay huge sums to get certain units of light that can sustain us a month. You know that prepaid meter is a not a friend of heavy gadgets”, the resident added.

Water is another critical facility in these estates.  It was gathered at 1004 estate that there is a central water plant that serves residents. John explained that the tanks are cleaned twice in a month. “External tankers are called to supply the estate whenever the tanks are cleaned. Each cluster has its reservoir to serve residents during this period”, he added.

This  also applies for Cable Point Estate. The resident revealed that water in Lekki is  generally bad, but the estate has its own treatment plant that serves residents with potable water supply. According to him, the plant is routinely purified.

In Osborne foreshore, all houses in the estates have their own personal boreholes and water treatment plants. The water is safe for human consumption and residents enjoy  portable water.

In the three estates, the central management authority collectively handles Waste Management. It was gathered that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) visits the estates to evacuate dirt at least once in a week.

Source: Israel Odubola

Mixta Africa plans ‘a haven’ in Lagos with Adiva Plainfields II

Another initiative aimed at increasing the housing stock in the country has begun in Lagos under a mixed-use development scheme. The project will yield 227 units of residential accommodation.

Mixta Africa is promoting the new venture, located within the rapidly developing Lagos New Town axis of Lagos State along the Lekki-Epe Expressway corridor. Construction work at the site began recently, and a vast majority of the project is currently being sold off-plan.

The project known, as Adiva Plainfields II is located within the Adiva Plainfields gated residential community. The development offers attractive homes and serviced plots to prospective buyers. It is developed in phases and on completion, the units will comprise four bedroom terraces and two bedroom apartments.

The company currently has developments in Lagos, Edo and Rivers states with an eye for expansion in the nearest future. In Lagos State, the developments are along the Lekki-Epe expressway within the rapidly developing Lagos New Town.Mixta Africa’s short and long-term objective is to provide affordable housing, which addresses the current housing deficit. To this end, the firm launched the Emotan Gardens Estate in Benin City with homes as low as N6million. There are also plans to develop affordable housingSpecifically, the Adiva Plainfields II has its own infrastructural facilities including roads, power and water supply systems as well as a quality drainage. It is designed as a community where families and live and play.

According to the Head, Marketing and Sales, Mr. Korede Lawrence, “The lake, public parks and gardens set the tone for this tranquil community. Adiva Plainfields is a housing development of the future. With its unique design, first class amenities and peaceful surroundings, it is a secure investment for now and the future.”

He said: “The types of properties offered in this new phase are specifically targeted to provide an ideal environment for families. The designs are modern and functional while still offering top-notch infrastructure.

“It is a quality development, which has its own infrastructural amenities including roads, power and water supply systems and a quality drainage system, which has proven capable of handling torrential rains.

“In addition to the breathtaking scenery and accessible services, residents will have access to Adiva Gardens, a beautiful garden right in the heart of the estate and a children’s play area making their living experience even more comfortable.”

On the current situation of property business, Lawrence said: “The market is constantly growing even with the increasing number of developers and marketers. It is also becoming clearer that implementing systems that support flexible payment plans is a game changer for the industry.”

Source: Chinedum Uwaegbulam

Land documentation process in Nigeria: A mixed bag of experiences

For Nigerians with enough money to throw around or those who have connection with persons in high offices, getting a title for their landed property can almost happen in a blink of an eye, while for others it can take almost forever.

Checks  revealed that Nigerian property owners, estate developers, legal practitioners and other stakeholders in Lagos state have had different experiences, at one time or another, in getting their land documents in a country where 90 percent of houses are built with own savings.

Issues around the rigorous processes,long duration and the high cost of obtaining land documentations are among key setbacks identified and highlighted by industry stakeholders.
Jide Ogunleye, CEO of Denaro Properties Limited, a business and investment strategies firm with emphasis on real estate, said bureaucracy combined with corruption in the titling process will not allow things to get done.

“Whatever has been done has still not solved the problem of titling, forget the e-certificate. The people that will provide the e-certificate can be bottlenecks in the process,” he said.
He explained that this is because “people won’t move your file, except they are paid or something, and as such it is likely that in some cases you can be on your land title for a very long period of time.”

Omobola Ayoola, business development manager at Joe Etoniru & Associates, a real estate company, affirms, saying that the process of getting land title “is not cut-and-dried; it is not like you submit the form and immediately your form goes through some people and you get your certificate, no.”

She notes that the cost of getting the document can be as high as N1 million to N2 million, adding that it has always been expensive.

But, according to the Lagos State Business Made Easy (BME) document driven by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), there has been a reform in the method of operations by the Lagos State Land Bureau as it has introduced the use of technology in its day-to-day transactions.

The BME document, however, explains that prior to the implementation of the reforms, “applicants seeking to register property in Lagos were required to pay fees at different stages and carry out visits to the land registry before registration could be completed.”

It notes that “the reform initiatives put in place have simplified this process by making payments possible online, automating procedures and reducing charges.” As a result, the time required to register property has reduced from 105 days to 75 days, and also the number of procedures required to register property has reduced from 12 to 8.

Adeniyi Akinlusi, president of Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN) and CEO, Trustbond Mortgage points out, however, that the cost of land titling has reduced compared to what it used to be before Bababunde Fashola’s administration.

“So in terms of cost, it has come down. They have also tried to reduce the administrative bottleneck but there is room for improvement. However, I am aware that the new law being reviewed by Lagos state is going to streamline titling in terms of the processing,” Akinlusi said.
Meanwhile, possession of land title documents is one of the most important ways of laying claim to ownership of a property.

Ayo Ibaru, COO/Director,  Real Estate Advisory at Northcourt Real Estate, explained that the process of land documentation in Lagos state has attained an almost legendary status in property development lore.

“There has been many a complaint about unnecessary hassles on the path to title perfection. The process takes too long. The requirements border on the onerous and the officials in charge could be more helpful,” Ibaru noted.

But he added that there have been some improvements, saying that transaction speed has gotten better as the government has made concerted efforts to introduce technology to the process, including the commissioning of an online system to facilitate the processing of land documentation.

Narrating his frustration with the process of getting land title for his clients, a legal adviser who asked not be quoted for the fear of losing his job said in his last  eight years of working on the field, nothing has changed about getting a land document.

“The time it takes to get the document has not improved; it only just depends on how fast you want to get it done. It is for the highest bidder, sometimes if you have someone at the top, it can be faster but with serious follow up which would have involved you paying heavily to the officers you will be able to get it faster than others”.

Over the past three years, Nigeria has implemented more than 140 reforms, increased its Distance-to-Frontier (DTF) score by over 11 basis points, and moved up 24 places in the World Bank Doing Business Index (DBI) rankings, as revealed by PEBEC Reforms Reference Handbook.

Some of the highlights of reforms by successive administrations in lands bureau to date, as compiled from the website of the Lagos State Government Land Bureau include  the 30-Day Governor’s Consent and Reduction of payments on Consent fees, Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty and Registration fees.

Ibaru applauded these efforts qand the resultant improvements, but pointed out however that, in all, it still leaves much to be desired for a state that prides itself as ‘Centre of Excellence’.
“The governor’s consent, by many accounts, can be obtained within 3 – 6 months of completing the application. The cost, however, could be improved as officials still charge approved and not-so-clear fees at different stages of the process,” he explained.

The administration of the land use act means that everything must be issued by the governor, which according some real estate experts takes a lot of time.  This means that when a mortgage is to be registered it must be with the consent of the governor, and this is cost-inclusive.

The transaction cost of title perfection sometimes gets between 7 to 8 percent of a mortgage loan amount. A loan applicant  sees a situation whereby he wants to borrow N10 million and he needs another N1 million or N700,000 as perfection cost, explained Abiodun Akanbi, head of strategy at Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank

Mary Ikechukwu disclosed that she had been processing her land title for over 2 years and still no sign of going through with it anytime soon. “At the first sight of presenting my file to the officers, they spotted some errors in the documents. Meanwhile, this is not my first time of registering, and so I had to start with the processing all over again,”  she lamented.

 

Continuing, she said,  “even with the amount I have paid, the process is still slow and I do not even know the exact issue” adding, “there is need for an efficient online system that will help remove all the human interface in the processing.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria with the highest population in Africa has one of the world’s lowest mortgages to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate at less than 1 percent, which obviously lags Ghana’s 2 percent, South Africa’s 30 percent, the U.S rate at 60 percent and that of the UK at 70 percent

According to Akinlusi, all hands are on deck, as the mortgage association was engaging with the government. “If the foreclosure law which is being reviewed now is enacted, like it has been passed by Kaduna state, it will help to streamline titling of property and documentation and when it becomes faster to get title, the cost of development will cost less and then you can start talking about property approval and, if they have building, then mortgage can come in,” Akinlusi assured.

Source: Endurance Okafor

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