Most African governments don’t take housing seriously – Shelter Afrique

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By YINKA KOLAWOLE

Shelter Afrique has said that most African governments are not giving due attention to the provision of housing, noting that they have failed to provide meaningful incentives to investors in low-income housing.

Kenya-based Shelter Afrique is a pan African Housing Finance institution established by 44 African member governments and African Development Bank, African Reinsurance Corporation and United Kingdom’s Development Finance Institution with the mandate of mobilising resources for housing development in Africa.

Director of Business Development and Operations, Shelter Afrique, Mr. A. M. Adewole, made the remark in his presentation on primary mortgage market innovations and their role for housing supply, at the 9th International Housing Finance Workshop held recently in Abuja.

The forum brought together some of the foremost and most enterprising of minds in real estate, construction and housing finance within and outside Nigeria to deliberate on various challenges affecting the housing and housing finance sectors and how these challenges could be tackled to ensure development in the sector.

According to Adewole, “Shelter Afrique is committed to financing housing initiatives across the various housing market segments and that includes social housing which had come to fore in the last couple of years.”

He said that one of Shelter Afrique’s platforms of intervention is through lines of credit to financial institution particularly financial institutions for on lending to people on very low income to build or improve their own homes. He described the low-income groups as the most forgotten of Nigeria’s population, noting that the private sector housing market currently caters for the upper-middle income and high-income groups, leaving the lower middle and low-income unattended.

“The middle and low-income earners in Nigeria represent over 85 percent of the overall population. These are part of the target groups which I strongly encourage investors to turn their attention to, and engage with all manner of decent, stylish and affordable housing concepts.”

He asserted that the prohibitive cost of constructing a house has made it difficult to offer affordable housing in Nigeria. “Single minded large scale housing programme is required as current approaches, while well intended, are not sufficient and if we must build at an unprecedented scale, the challenges of technology, economic viability, and capacity must be overcome to succeed. A decisive shift towards manufacturing based housing solutions offer the best chance of meeting the challenges,” he said.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the workshop, real estate experts unanimously declared that the housing situation in Nigeria requires more complex solutions in order to be effectively tackled.

They suggested that a large-scale market solution is required to roll out viable and profitable models to serve lower income groups of the nation’s workforce. The forum noted that in addition to development finance and efficient land administration required for low-cost housing, sound governance, professional standards and norms, transparency, and good consumer protection are needed in the industry.

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