By Yinka Kolawole
The Federal Government is ready to collaborate with international housing experts in the quest to enhance housing delivery to Nigerians.
Minister of State for Works, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, made this commitment to a delegation of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) who visited her in Abuja.
She remarked that collaborations with such international partners will go a long way in addressing the chronic housing deficit facing the country, in addition to strengthening mortgage institutions in the country to provide the needed funds for the development of the nationâ€™s housing sector.
The delegation was led by FIABCIâ€™s International President, Lisa Kurrass, who reiterated the commitment of the federation in partnering with Nigeria towards the development and the sustenance of housing delivery in the country.
Kurrass remarked that the group was in the country to flag-off its African Trade Mission aimed at unlocking the â€œvast potential of real estate in Africa as well as expose those potentials to the world. The upside potential is tremendous and we want encourage the building energy efficient buildingsâ€.
FIABCI is a federation of 100 national real estate associations and business club of real estate professionals in 60 countries. It is a special consultant with NGO status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Organisation (ECOSOC).
Meanwhile, the federation claimed that it has commenced moves to develop affordable shelter for the urban poor in Nigeria. African RegionalÂ President of FIABCI, Mr. Osita Okoli, remarked in a statement announcing the kickoff of the groupâ€™s Africa Trade Mission being hosted by Nigeria, that the group in conjunction with the United Nations and others, have started preliminary work on replicating its activities across the world in the country.
â€œFIABCI has made presentation to Global Housing Foundation (GHF) which is one of the foundations affiliated to FIABCI to cater for affordable houses for the urban poor in the regions of Asia, South America and lately, Africa.
â€œThere are projects ongoing, financed and coordinated by the United Nations in conjunction with Meryl Lynch and also handled by GHF of South Africa at the moment. The GHF has also approved and we have been in liaison and correspondence for projects to be done in Abuja, Nigeria. We have written to the Federal Capital Territory about that, we have set up meetings and we had a team that was planning to come to Nigeria late last year but that meeting had been delayed.
â€œWe are working hard to see that GHF implements projects in Nigeria especially starting with Abuja. That is one way FIABCI is helping to bring housing to the urban poor and these projects are structured in such a way that housing are going to come virtually free to the people; the government provides land and infrastructure, FIABCI mobilises capital, provides materials and labour to build houses and they are titled and given away to the urban poor,â€ he stated.
In a related development, Minister of State for Works, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre has charged the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to help facilitate delivery of affordable and decent housing to Nigerians by deploying its vantage position in real estate development.
Ekpiwhre stated this while receiving members of the board of directors of FHA, noting that decent and affordable houses are not easily accessible to most Nigerians particularly salary earners.
She, however, pointed out that FHA is better positioned to acquire land for housing development as well as having more credibility in approaching financial institutions for funds to finance housing sector.
Ekpiwhre also solicited a more harmonious working relationship between the FHA and the supervising ministry of the authority, noting that this would go a long way in achieving the desired objective of proving affordable houses to Nigerians.