By Jude Njoku
With a housing deficit estimated at a whopping 17 million units, Nigeria would require a minimum investment of US$300 billion ( about N4.8trillion) for housing construction costs alone over the next 30 years, if the dream of providing shelter for these homeless Nigerians would be realized.
Minister of Lands, Housing & Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi told participants at the World Bank/IFC 6th Global Housing Finance conference in Washington DC, United States of America, that about one million housing units per annum, would be required to achieve a significant reduction in the national deficit. She put the unit cost of each of the houses at US$10,000, adding that the housing deficit would be eliminated by 2043, if this is done.
Mrs Eyakenyi who spoke on “Affordable housing finance: the role of the government”, identified the most important constraints to housing in the country as lack of access to serviced/titled land and sustainable long-term finance. She posited that the removal of these two barriers would reduce poverty and assist in the achievement of sustainable development.
The Minister described the provision of affordable housing and urban basic services as a veritable policy instrument for ensuring that the prosperity of the society is shared more rationally and beneficially by the citizenry.
She explained that through the approved National Policy on Housing and the National Policy on Urban Development (2012), progress has been made but a great deal still needs to be done.
Mrs Eyakenyi listed some of the measures taken by the present administration to provide a favourable macro-economic, political and social environment for both local investment and foreign direct investment into the housing sector.
•Assistance to developers in the supply of unencumbered land and promotion of the use of alternative building materials and new technologies in housing delivery.
•Partnering with strong and competent non-government actors for community mobilisation in the delivery of mass housing projects and ensuring amicable resolution of conflicts.
•Creating institutional interventions, including the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission ICRC for the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships, PPPs
•Strengthening the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria FMBN, for enhanced mortgage penetration
•Launch of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, in January 2014, with a target to grow the mortgage portfolio ten-fold over the next five years and
•Undertaking reforms to strengthen and reposition the Federal Housing Authority, including the on-going process of commercialising the Authority and the development of a Social Housing Bill, which is awaiting passage in the National Assembly.
The Minister noted that with the launch of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, 10, 000 new housing units guaranteed by the Federal government for low and middle income earners, would be delivered at the end of this year (2014).
Aside these measures, Mrs Eyakenyi informed that the primary mortgage institutions PMIs in Nigeria have been recapitalised and transformed into primary mortgage banks PMBs. She declared: “Currently there are about 40 strong PMBs in the country”.
Other policy measures to reduce the rate of homelessness in Nigeria, according to the Minister include; •Development of a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, NIIMP 2013-2043, with a strong housing and urban development component
. • Implementation of land swap policy, the development of a roadmap for the housing and urban development Sector and the adoption of the Public-Private Partnership, PPP for the delivery of affordable mass housing.