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Tech is Nigeria’s New Goldmine for Revenue Generation—Fowler

Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler, has joined those who have said the digital space would be the next goldmine for Nigeria to generate revenue instead of crude oil that presently performs such function for the country.

Mr Fowler, in his opening remarks on Friday at the third annual Nigeria Tax Research Network Conference themed Revenue Challenges Online and Offline: Bridging the Digital divide in an Analogue Economy, stated that it was important that the service improves its capacity in the taxation of economic activities within the digital space.

The nation’s chief taxman said at the FIRS Training School in Durumi, Abuja, venue of the programme that to tap into this, the agency has deployed electronic tax services (e-services) to ensure the automation of tax processes for the purpose of improving transparency as well as easing speed of tax administration for both taxpayers and administrators.

“The volume of economic activities associated with businesses like Uber, Amazon and our own Jumia and Interswitch is further confirmation of the aptness of the theme.

“To put it in clear terms, the digital space is new gold in terms of revenue generation, and tax administration must be alive to this fact.

“It is with this in mind that FIRS has designed and deployed electronic tax services (e-services) to ensure the automation of tax processes for the purpose of the improvement of transparency, ease and speed of tax administration for both taxpayers and tax administrators.

ALSO READ  Nigeria Must Review Tax Regime to Boost Revenue—Fowler

“These e-services have in no small way contributed to the successes recorded in the last two years amidst an economy characterised by the effect and aftermath of recession,” Mr Fowler said.

According to him, the e-services include e-Registration for registration of new taxpayers; e-Stamp duty for payment of stamp duties on qualifying documents; e-TaxPayment for payment of all taxes of the federal government using Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Remita or Interswitch; e-Receipt for receiving and verifying e-receipts generated for taxes paid through the new e-TaxPayment.

Others are e-Filing, which enables taxpayers file their tax returns through Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS); and e-TCC platform, which enables taxpayers apply for, receive and verify authenticity of their electronic tax clearance certificates (e-TCC).

Mr Fowler stated that the conference was an opportunity for tax administrators to brainstorm on new ideas to broaden the tax net as well as strategise on optimal service delivery.

The conference, according to him, is also for the discussion of current ideas, new trends and future prospects of revenue collection.

“This conference, like others before it, presents us with an opportunity to brainstorm and articulate initiatives for the broadening of the tax net and strategies geared towards ensuring optimised service delivery,” he noted.

Source: businesspostng

Expert: Here Are 5 Tech Trends to Watch in Housing in 2020

HousingWire sat down with Steve Butler, AI Foundry president and founder, who gave five trends to watch for artificial intelligence in 2020.

Recently, HousingWire sat down with Butler to talk about AI, where he predicted that within just two years, the majority of mortgage originations won’t need a human to touch them.

Now, Butler is expanding on his thoughts for AI with five predictions for 2020:

1. AI enables “Minimal human hands” on loans

Due to advancements in AI and machine learning, within the next two years, we will see the majority of mortgage loans get manufactured and sold off to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with very little human involvement. It will be a much more automated, mechanized process, driven by AI. In a recent article in Forbes, Keith Polaski, Radius Financial Group co-founder and chief operating officer, said that his company’s goal is to deliver all of its loans without a human touch to secondary mortgage market buyers like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

2. AI becomes vertical-specific

We will see the adoption of vertical-specific intelligent robots that have the level of industry expertise required for mortgage processing. These intelligent robots will play a key role in the process. More companies will turn to mortgage-specific robots with embedded industry knowledge. According to an Inc. Magazine story, five billion-dollar industries that will be impacted by AI include: real estate, automotive, education, customer service and IoT.

3. AI drives digital transformation to new levels

The mortgage process is very paper-based and analog. However, robots need digital data – solutions that can turn analog processes into digital ones will help the mortgage industry make new advances in digital transformation, replacing many of the old analog processes that have been used for decades (e.g. thousands of paper documents, verbal conversations to check and re-check information, emails and written communication throughout the loan process.)

4. AI skills elevate executive careers

An increasing number of mortgage executives will reach proficient level on AI as they embrace learning and using AI technologies. These new AI-savvy executives will enhance their careers, separate from their peers, and create opportunities to improve their business. For example, Polaski stated in this Forbes story that by using AI, his company has reduced their loan manufacturing cost by 70%.

5. AI creates “virtual assembly lines”

The mortgage office will change and begin to look more and more like a series of connected robots accomplishing discrete functions on the loan lifecycle. A “loan assembly line” will begin to take shape.

Source: housingwire

Home Automation Image

How Automation in Real Estate Became A $100 Billion Opportunity. Who Will Be Disrupted?

In 2018, the U.S. housing market increased its value by $1.9 trillion, bringing the total market size to $33.3 trillion, with an annual sales volume of $1.7 trillion. With fees around real estate transactions that can consume up to 10% of the property sale price, the size of the new dynamic sector that I will write about below can total up to $170 billion per year (with technology eating $100 billion of it as per venture capitalists). Obviously, half of the fees are going to realtors, who are very much needed to guide consumers. However, 2.5% of the commission that is received by the agent is not going to the pocket of a hardworking person; part of it goes to the brokerage, which needs to verify every single transaction. Additionally, agents cover the costs of things such as tools, insurance, and marketing. The other significant part of fees goes to the bank and title company, which also have to verify the transaction and process the closing, often manually. These businesses have a lot of expenses. Even more, due to the lack of data integrity, work is often repeated by these participants.

Currently, there is an evolving trend. A new wave of proptech (property technology) is rising, where real estate intersects with fintech (financial technology).

Until this year, software-only-based proptech companies failed to attract enough venture capital. It is because, unlike asset- and labor-intensive companies such as WeWork, proptech firms could not get rapid revenue growth. One example is Redfin. VCs in Silicon Valley loved the idea of disrupting realtors; however, Redfin struggled to obtain revenue and growth as per VCs’ expectations. Thus, it turned into a brokerage.

Currently, a proptech startup in the residential space can only make money if it turns into one of the following market participants that charge the most in transaction fees:

Mortgage Provider,
Brokerage,
Escrow/Title Company.

 

We do not know how drastically technology will shrink the roles of traditional real estate market participants in favor of automation or change their roles. However, certainly, many traditional real estate service providers will not look the same way that they look today.

So, what is the next big thing in proptech? Why is the new wave of real estate innovation attracting so much attention?

Automation, The Emerging Real Estate Tech Trend

According to Paul Levine, formerly the President at Trulia and currently a venture capitalist with Sapphire Ventures, the past was all about the Internet-enabled businesses. We have seen Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia innovate on the front end of the transaction. As for the back end of the property sales process (including financing, closing, home insurance, etc.), Levine stated at Proptech CEO Summit 2019, “To me, [the real estate transaction itself] is a 10x bigger opportunity than the opportunity that Trulia and Zillow and others sort of got so far.” At the 2019 Las Vegas Inman conference, he also noticed that automation of the transaction process is potentially a $100 billion opportunity.

Venture capital is warming up to the real estate transaction process itself. One opportunity resides with businesses innovating within the closing process. In the future, these closing process innovations will allow real estate to take part in the e-commerce arena.

We are now approaching a new era of transaction automation, and we are seeing specific trends leading to this point. E-signatures are now the industry norm in the United States. E-recording and e-notarization are also becoming new industry standards. Of course, there is also a downside of digitalization that should be mentioned: the increasing financial losses due to cybercrimes. Reported losses were $1.4 billion in 2017 and $2.7 billion in 2018, in effect nearly doubling over one year.

Recent technological advancements on the transaction end can change the game for high-value assets like real estate. Ideally, the payment and ownership transfer should happen simultaneously. In the world of traditional shopping, you make your Amazon payment, and you receive your new pair of shoes in the mail. Amazon makes the model work by acting as a trust layer. If your shoes do not arrive, Amazon covers the losses. For high-value assets such as real estate, if the exchange could happen automatically, there is no need for trust layers, and then real estate could become a part of the e-commerce marketplace.

The concept of automatic exchange works for high-value assets like real estate, because the ownership is represented by a document and not the asset itself, unlike the pair of shoes delivered to your address. (In the last part of this article, I will explain how automation of the real estate closing process is possible.) Now, let’s review why venture capital has not backed this idea in the past.

Venture Capital In Proptech

Reasons for the delay in transaction innovation lie in the current maturity of the market and in how venture capital operates. Over the past decade or so, new real estate startups have mostly entered the space in the three niches mentioned above: brokerage, mortgage provider, or escrow/title company. There are many examples of such companies. For instance, Redfin aimed to build tech and disrupt realtors. However, to make money and raise the next round, Redfin had to become a brokerage. iBuyers (such as Opendoor, which was founded by Keith Rabois and Eric Wu, Properly in Canada, and Knock) buy houses to resell. These iBuyers are practically tech-driven flippers and enforce transaction automation as participants of the deals and thus are able to charge as brokers. Companies like Better.com made their way as digital mortgage lenders. Divvy Homes is another mortgage tech startup with a different business model. Other startups like Modus and JetClosing have escrow or title licenses and thus can charge as title/escrow companies while they use technology to provide digital experiences for their customers.

Many pure technology SaaS companies in the real estate industry were working without extensive venture capital for a while. For example, Snapdocs, a SaaS company that helps mortgage providers make the closing process faster and more transparent, was founded in 2012 and only now in 2019 sees high growth and the series B round of financing by VCs (which is typically done in 2-3 years). Similar stories are found in the histories of companies such as Notarize, RealScout, Glide.com, Disclosures.io, and DocuSign (which initially focused on the real estate vertical). Due to venture fund structures and LP expectations, investors need to back technical solutions that provide faster returns on technologies with almost immediate mass adoption, which is often not the case with real estate technologies.

Recently, however, we have noticed venture capitalists waking up to the potential of automating the real estate transaction process. For example, in a TechCrunch survey, Connie Chan from Andreessen Horowitz expanded on the current real estate tech market and the lack of technology to support the real estate process by questioning, “Yes, we turn to Zillow or Redfin when searching for a home to buy or rent, but what about everything that happens before and after that?” Additionally, Brendan Wallace from Fifth Wall stated, “I would characterize the last five years as being an ‘Age of Enlightenment’ for major real estate owners, operators, and developers.” Indeed, recent investments such as those from Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund for Snapdocs, as well as those from NFX and 500 Startups for Modus, prove that the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ is here.

The Future Of Real Estate Solutions

New technologies like machine learning and smart contracts reinvent the transaction beneficially. Shortly, automated real estate transaction will become the new industry standard. The improvement will result in far greater ease and consumer security. Furthermore, it will reduce the busywork that so frequently typifies the realtor’s job.

Let me dive into how exactly technology can make a change in the real estate closing process and create an “Amazon”-like experience. Today, automatic exchanges of money and property ownership are possible with smart contracts that are based on blockchain technology. These smart contracts do not replace traditional paperwork. Instead, they ensure that the connections happen between the digitized paperwork, wire payment, and ownership transfer. Of course, the use of blockchain technology alone is not the key to transaction automation. Transaction automation is a complex task that may involve a number of other technologies, such as e-signatures, e-notarization, and cloud solutions.

The application of relevant tech innovations, such as settlements on smart contracts and e-signatures, allows for the possibility of automating all steps within the real estate property closing process. It means that when the payment is released, the ownership is passed on to the buyer in the same step.

With all stages of the process guided by advanced technology, buying a property can become a pleasant experience. Tech-driven brokerages like Compass, eXp Realty, and Keller Williams Realty are working on improving the experience by investing in proprietary technology. However, the technical solutions that will thrive in the future will be brokerage-agnostic and title-company-agnostic.

Whether or not the incumbents mentioned earlier in this article will be replaced is unclear. However, what is certain is that the real estate industry is becoming more technology-intensive rather than labor-intensive, opening up a $100 billion opportunity for innovators (as per VCs participating in the 2019 Las Vegas Inman conference). Venture capital is warming up to those who are focusing on creating technical solutions to automate routine transaction processes, opening doors for job opportunities that support the new real estate technologies, and ensuring cybersecurity.

 

Source: Forbes

Nigeria Must Embrace Technology To Remain Relevant – Zinox boss

Technology innovation represents a way for developing nations to foster economic development, improve levels of education, training and way of life.

These and more were the points made by Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, as he prepared the minds of Nigerians on how technology would disrupt several spheres of the Nigerian economy by 2029.

Speaking at the 2019 Annual Lecture Series of foremost advisory and corporate commercial entity, Alliance Law Firm, the Techpreneur said that no one has the capacity to stop the coming wave of positive technological disruption.

He tasked Nigerians, especially the youths to take advantage of the positive digital disruption and add impetus to the brand Nigeria on the global map.

The Zinox boss, who was the Lead speaker at the event, said, “It is now between our competence, our commitment and God to lead other nations of the world. This is a century of quality wealth driven with knowledge and conscience and powered by technology. We have no reason not to scale with over 200million ambitious people from birth.”  

 

Meanwhile, the event was attended by the Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Ernest Ndukwe, who chaired the occasion; Media entrepreneur, Linda Ikeji; Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwutan, and former Director, NOTAP, Umar Bindir.

Others are Group Managing Director, Mojec International Holdings, Chantelle Abdul; and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Payment Tokens, Interswitch, Mike Ogbalu, among others.

Ekeh described the event as one of the best ever organised in Nigeria in recent times because of the quality and content of the event.

According to him, every sector of the Nigerian economy is experiencing the impact of technology, be it the electoral system, health care delivery, agriculture, banking, transport, education, hospitality, governance, entertainment, housing and including the way businesses are run in Nigeria.

“Today, Nigeria is moving closer to e-voting. Also, you will observe that post-election litigations have dropped considerably. In fact, we are down by about 41% today.  

“Once we migrate to e-voting fully, anyone who loses an election will have no need to go and contest it in court. This is the power of technology. Technology does not lie. This is why I chose to go into it as a profession,” he added.

He urged the Federal and State Governments to take that decision now to invest about $10 billion to provide quality digital infrastructure in Nigerian schools at all levels and finance school fees for indigent students nationwide.

“When I returned to this country over 30 years ago, I was worth less than $10,000. Within three months of returning to Nigeria, I was privileged to have met people like General Theophilus Danjuma, the Awolowo family and others who patronised me and in the first six months, I hit over $4.5m balance sheet size.  

“I wouldn’t have achieved this if I had decided to remain in the UK, as I was being advised then by those who saw no future for Nigeria in technology. It is important to note that though my customers did not really understand what they were buying, I did not betray them. This century is a century of trust and those that can not be trusted have no financial capacity to scale.  

 “A very good example of this is Konga which is run by my son and his colleagues. A few months after we acquired Konga, Naspers – the previous owners – which invested $32m in TenCent sold off two per cent of its stake for $9.8bn. Today, Naspers’ remaining 28 per cent stake in TenCent is worth $133bn. If the whizkids at Konga choose to put Konga up for sale today, we have an idea how much it will attract. Nigeria with our growing quality population is headed for greatness,” Ekeh added.

The event also witnessed the launch of the Doing Business in Nigeria manual. Chief Host of the event and Managing Partner, Alliance Law Firm, Uche Val Obi (SAN) affirmed that the publication drew on the firm’s vast advisory experience and their status as notable contributors in the IMF/World Bank Doing Business publications.

Source: nairametrics

Digital is the Future and Beckons on Nigeria

There is still palpable excitement in the digital and investment communities following the visit to Nigeria in the week of November 11-17 of two significant players in those ecosystems. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and co-founder and former Chairman of the Alibaba Group of China Jack Ma were enthusiastic guests as they pumped hands and exchanged ideas with our people. The common thread was their interest in Nigeria’s digital ecosystem.

Nigeria ranks 8th among the top 20 global internet users. Internet access is at 56 percent of the population translating to more than 100million users. The country gained $7 billion of the $20 billion Africa-wide investment in the digital/connectivity ecosystem as of 2015.

Nigeria hosts six submarine cables with direct connections to all major West African markets. There is over 15MW of combined standard Data Centre capacity. Equally significant, 58 new tech start-ups registered in 2018.

The ICT sector is playing a catalytic role in economic growth. The ICT sector contributed 12.4 percent to the nation’s GDP, reflecting an annual increase of 9.5 percent year-on-year. Nigeria has 172 million mobile lines and 112 million Internet subscriptions.

The preceding is the backdrop for the growing interest in the Nigerian digital and connectivity ecosystem that attracted the eminent guests. The office of the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo claimed it facilitated Jack Ma’s visit to “promote technological innovation amongst young people”.

Jack Ma outlined the interest of the Alibaba Group, himself and the many investors that came along with him in the E-ecosystem of Nigeria. The four areas of interest are E-infrastructure, Entrepreneurship, Education and E-governance.

Demand is increasing for Nigerians with competences and skills to speak the language of the new digital world. Principally this revolves around programming and coding. Nigerian youngsters, entrepreneurs and start-ups have proven adept in this area.

Andela Limited made the case and showed the quality of Nigerian programmers. It has been eminently successful in building engineering teams and software developers that companies across Africa. Global firms snap up those that Andela trains. Andela has now turned its model upside down. Rather than train young future engineers, it is now in the market to hire 400 senior engineers.

If coding were a country, it would have the highest number of migrants. Coders are among the most sought-after professionals.

Our STEM ecosystem is rapidly developing despite Nigeria. The country needs now to support the visions and ambition of its young people in their drive to play significant roles and speak the language of today and tomorrow.

Nigeria now requires even more committed and sustained efforts to attain universal, affordable and suitable quality broadband access all over the country. We endorse the recommendation of industry player MainOne that Nigeria should “work towards ensuring that the cost of 1GB of internet data should not be more than 2 percent of average monthly income”.

Nigeria must do away with the impediments. They include policy frameworks that make infrastructure deployment difficult and expensive as well as constraining tax policies and multiple taxations. Access to funding remains a challenge as is the cost.

Funke Opeke, the engineer who leads MainOne Cables, recently provided a template of solutions. A foundational measure is the recognition of ICT and connectivity as critical national infrastructure. The government at all levels must encourage innovation hubs as well as skill development and job creation. Then reduce non-economic costs and risks of market entry and investment.

As the sector grows, we must work to ensure the availability of appropriate technical skills to operate and maintain digital infrastructure. Also, it is necessary to provide incentives or direct funding support to the providers to ensure the provision of affordable broadband access to areas of less commercial viability such as some of our states and the rural regions. The future is digital and beckons Nigeria. Let’s go there, surefootedly.

Source: businessdayng

New Updates on Egypt’s Iconic Tower, Set to be the Tallest in Africa

Egypt’s Housing Minister Asem al-Gazzar declared that construction work has launched on the Iconic Tower’s metal structure, located in the New Administrative Capital’s central business area, during his inspection tour there on Saturday.

The 11th level is currently under construction, Gazzar said.

Set to be Africa’s tallest tower after completion, the 80-level tower is founded on an area of roughly 240,000 square meters and a height of 385 meters, according to freshly issued statements from the Housing Minister.

Johannesburg’s Carlton Center, which is 223 meters, has been the tallest building in Africa since 1973 according to The National.

The tower’s construction work kicked-off in 2018, and the foundations of the remarkable skyscraper were laid within 80 hours of nonstop work.

Gazzar followed up progress at the Iconic Tower during a meeting with the staff of the Chinese CSCEC Company, which is assigned to carry out the project alongside with 19 other buildings in the same business zone.

Several buildings were inaugurated earlier at the beginning of 2019 including the vast Middle Eastern Cathedral, alongside a massive mosque.

Amidst the same tour, Gazzar scrutinized other under-construction projects including “Capital Park” as well as “New Garden City”.

The Obour City Development Authority’s head Ahmed Omran said that in collaboration with the Development Authority of New Cairo, officials are set to embark on a series of field visits to promising engineers and workers at both cities, where several towers are currently under construction.

This initiative mainly aims to ignite the experience of young workers and engineers in addition to bolstering the spirit of the working team at the sites housing unfinished skyscrapers, he said.

Built on 700 kilometers while located 45 Kilometers of east Cairo, the New Administrative Capital is a mega project that houses dozens of residential, business and governmental entities, led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Source: egyptindependent

Architects, Others Urge Practitioners To Embrace Technology

To remain relevant in the future, architects and notable eggheads in the construction industry have called for innovative ideas that will preserve cities in Nigeria.

They said only the creative and innovative minds are best suited to take charge of the new digital world.

According to them, the construction sector is contending with new roles with more problems while the new field is emerging, hence the need for adoption of these technologies.

Pioneer president of the Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria, (ACAN) Olusegun Ladega, who led discussions at a symposium themed: “Future Trends in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry, noted the challenges poised by technology in the future of architecture.

He urged practitioners to embrace technology to leapfrog the challenges, as the world is now a global village.

According to him with the developing trends leading to competition with foreign firms, architects in Nigeria should not be afraid but must devise strategies to outsmart their foreign competitors.

Ladega also said since technological breakthroughs like artificial intelligence and blockchains will not replace men, therefore, architects should leverage them to deliver solutions to their clients’ benefits and the economy.

“ Architects should adopt the level of technology that makes them to work in enough efficiency. Leveraging the new technology as far as possible to provide cutting edge services”, he said.

Noting that models are changing, he urged architects to modify the way they work by reinventing the wheels to survive the new trends.

Also former president of Africa Union of Architects, Chief Charles Majoroh, said evolution is taking place in the profession and making the era of T-square and pencil going extinct.

He called on architects to take a comparative analysis of other professions, and involve them in the design of new materials.

According to him, the democratization of expertise has eroded the conferring of the exclusivity of design on architects.

He urged architects to accept the incursion of artificial intelligence and virtual realities in their works and venture into fabrication. “There is a need to align with the younger generation and take over artisan based production.

“We need to merge design with engineering and develop more interest in the creation of finished materials. We should rethink our cities and remodel our urban areas and preserve their blueprint as a city that works.

“Urban designs should be a core area that should be our focus through creative designs”, Majoroh added.

For the Managing Director, Design Group Nigeria Limited, Bayo Odunlami, since the principle of success never changes only the tools do, architects should enmesh themselves in the thinking behind your design.

Contributing, Past President of Nigeria Institute of Structural Engineers, (NISTRUCTE), Kunle Adebajo, said professionals need to do something different by having a mindset that adds value on what they met.

Architect, he said, should embrace coding rather than paper which is the language of digital technology. The language must be brought to the classroom now; it is the language of the future.

Others like Managing Director El-Alan Construction Company Limited, Mr. Andrea Geday

Ms. Tola Adegbayi, the executive director, Leadway Assurance Company Limited noted the changing future of architecture and construction and called for now thinking of building insurance.

In his address the president of Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACAN), Mansur Kurfi Ahmadu stressed the need to protect the society from quacks and undesirable foreign incursion, especially firms not legally registered to offer services in the country.

Source: Guardianng

Driving Housing With Technology

The demand for housing, especially in developing countries, has remained a source of concern, globally. This is why the United Nations set aside the first Monday in October yearly, to draw attention to the state of housing in towns, cities and communities. Experts are convinced that with a rapidly increasing global population, housing provision may have gone beyond the conventional way of getting it done; hence, the need to further embrace technology in housing delivery.

Faculty of Housing of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers’ (NIESV) has taken the lead in initiatives aimed at deploying modern technologies, such as dry construction, said to have capacity to deliver an average of 500 housing units in three months.

IT was a gathering of eggheads in the built environment.The meeting, which has become a yearly ritual is aimed at finding lasting solution to the hydra-headed problem of insufficient housing,  globally.

Last Monday, in line with the setting aside of every first Monday in October by the United Nations (UN), an initiative that started in Kenya, 1986, stakeholders gathered in Lagos to celebrate the World Habitat Day.

At present, Nigeria is said to have a 17 million housing stock deficit; others contend that the figure may be more given that the same number has been bandided for over a decade.

It was, therefore instructive, when at this years’s celebration, the Chairman, Housing Faculty of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers (NIESV), Chief Chika Okafor, said: “It is high time we  moved away from brick and mortar and embrace new methods that cut down on time, space, size and make affordability easier.”

According to him, for the country to achieve any meaningful progress in meeting the housing needs of her citizens, there is the urgent need to deploy industrialised housing solutions, which allow for mass production of hundreds of houses within a short period of three months.

Okafor made it known that gone were the days when the government could cite the vagaries of weather or paucity of funds as a limiting factor to construction. He said estate surveyors and the association were ready to offer quality advocacy, or ideas on the importance of housing and affordable housing delivery.

“We are determined to drive the process of affordable housing as we have taken it upon ourselves to encourage research into the varying broad ramifications of housing as a generic core subject and curriculum of national importance by identifying housing models, financing and affordability within conducive and congenial framework that facilitates progress both in the housing process and its delivery,” he said.

He advocated for the separation of the Housing ministry from Works or any ministry, was emphatic on the importance of  housing to human needs, hence the need to accord it the deserved attention by the government. Besides, he canvassed that access to land for housing be made less cumbersome, in addition to quick access to legal title to such land.

Others are reducing housing cost through modern and construction techniques; perfection of title registration and perfection through simplified and harmonised process to make it less expensive, timely and secure; provision of adequate infrastructure facilities and relaxation of the various conditions required for land allocation and title perfection; review of National Housing Fund Act to increase the Statutorily  contribution and participation level; 50 per cent of  recovered fund  by EFCC should be channeled to the provision of affordable housing; government should seek to achieve the Singaporean model by changing the perception of housing; engage professionals in housing delivery.

In similar vein, a former Secretary, NIESV Housing Faculty, Casmir Anyanwu, reiterated that the nation needed to move from brick and mortar because it is not only capital intensive but time consuming.

He was emphatic that the gap in the housing stock could not be met with such old methodology in housing production. He therefore suggested the deployment of “dry construction” technology, where housing components are manufactured and packed in cartons and can be assembled within weeks to build a house. This technology obtains in the middle East and very recently too.

“Housing production should be made a commodity with full industrialisation. It should serve as a source of job creation and economic fortification to arrest urban decay by reducing housing cost through modern trends,’’ Anyanwu said.

NIESV First National Vice President,   Emma Wike, underscored the rights of citizens to decent and affordable housing. He asked that both the Federal and state governments should come up with solution to redress the housing shortage

He said: “The Federal Government should give the housing sector the deserved attention and grant it an intervention fund as was done in aviation, agriculture, banking and recently the film industry. Since most of the recovered loot from public officials and politicians are mostly from houses bought or constructed with public funds, it will not be a bad idea for the government to stake 50 per cent of the recovered loot to invest into industrial housing provision to enable the majority of the people have access to decent housing.”

Afolabi Adedeji, an engineer, also supported the call for a new direction in housing provision. He canvassed the need to embrace modern technologies to bridge the housing gap.  He asked for the government to take the lead to make housing ownership.

Source: thenationonlineng

To Optimize Construction Tech, Stakeholders Must Synchronize

As most contractors become more comfortable with technology, project management solutions like Procore Project Management and Autodesk’s BIM 360 have emerged as some of the industry’s most valuable tools. As it turns out, though, the benefits of using this software can be lessened when owners adopt their own project management systems without coordinating that decision with their contractors.

This is according to the “Connecting Owners and Contractors: How Technology Drives Connected Construction” study by Dodge Data & Analytics, conducted in partnership with another project management software provider, e-Builder by Trimble. When contractors and owners use different, disconnected systems, contractors often find themselves doing double duty trying to maintain data for both, potentially sacrificing a high level of productivity and even accuracy in the flow of work in the process.

Of course, the resulting higher costs, greater risks and schedule delays that can come with having to process RFIs, invoices and submittals this way are unintended but still impactful to the owner and contractor, to their relationship and ultimately to the project’s success.

And none of this has been lost on the contractors and owners who participated in the study. Dodge and e-Builder found that:

  • 42% of contractors use both the owner’s project management system in addition to their own, which has led to higher risk as they duplicate efforts.
  • 73% of contractors report medium or high impact on the productivity of workers due to double entry of construction data, with 62% of contractors reporting that this impacts their rate of data entry errors, and 70% saying it slowed the flow of information.
  • 45% of respondents are satisfied with the current state of data connectedness, but 65% of owners and 51% of contractors see high or very high value in using a shared, collaborative data platform.

So, what are a contractor’s options here? Go along with the owner’s demands? Continue using an unwieldy system that increases the risk of errors and, potentially, litigation down the road?

“I think the findings make it clear that the contractors have already made that decision,” said Donna Laquidara-Carr, industry insights research director at Dodge. “Only 6% refuse to use the owners’ system, and the highest percentage (42%) believe double entry, despite the pain it causes, is the best solution.”

Having ready access to the owner’s information does provide some benefits, like increased transparency and getting paid faster, but Laquidara-Carr said the best of both worlds would see contractors and owners be able to reap the benefits of being connected without having to engage in the double entry of information.

But if contractors aren’t happy about being required to use the owner’s project management information system (PMIS), they should speak up about how difficult such a setup can potentially be, said Laquidara-Carr.  “[The study] clearly revealed that many owners are unaware of the challenges that contractors face when forced to use an owner’s PMIS rather than their own, with 45% saying that contractors face no increased risk in doing so. Contractors must be able to have these conversations with the owner for owners to understand the impact.”

The integration of data is something that many tech companies like Procore and Autodesk are focusing on, and Chris Bell, vice president of marketing at e-Builder, said the company can now offer that convenience with e-Builder Enterprise for owners and Trimble Project Sight for contractors. “[These two solutions] can integrate,” he said, “to become one construction management platform for a project and allow information exchange between systems so that each party can own their own data.”

Source – ConstructionDive

What You Need to Know About Rwanda’s Launch of the First ‘Made in Africa’ Smartphones

Rwanda’s Mara Group launched two smartphones on Monday, describing them as the first “Made in Africa” models and giving a boost to the country’s ambitions to become a regional technology hub.

The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190) and 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130) respectively.

They will compete with Samsung, whose cheapest smartphone costs 50,000 Rwandan francs ($54), and non-branded phones at 35,000 Rwandan francs ($37). Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar said it was targetting customers willing to pay more for quality.

“This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Companies assemble smartphones in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa, but import the components, he said.

“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process,” he said. “There are over 1,000 pieces per phone.”

Thakkar said the plant had cost $24 million and could make 1,200 phones per day.

Mara Group hopes to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact aimed at forming a 55-nation trade bloc, to boost sales across Africa, Thakkar said.

The agreement is due to begin trading in July next year, aiming to unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. But it is still in the very early stages and no timelines have been agreed for abolishing tariffs.

Kagame said he hoped the phone would increase Rwanda’s smartphone usage, currently at around 15%.

“Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more. The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership within reach of more Rwandans,” Kagame said.

Source: cnbcafrica

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