By Kingsley Adegboye
Nigeria’s real estate sector has not remained the same since the advent of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Following the impact of the pandemic on Nigeria’s real estate sub-sector, the sector has remained largely under-performing.
The underperformance of this sector is largely hinged on the low level of effective demand for housing. Affordable housing remains unobtainable, and given the squeeze in consumers’ purchasing power, demand has remained low.
There is little or no access to housing finance or mortgage loans at affordable rates. At the same time, the cost of construction is very high and feeds directly into property pricing. Developers are yet to adopt new building technologies that can assist with quality and cost advantage.
The real estate sector has been severely hit by the current pandemic. Given the impact of Covid-19 on consumers’ pockets, as well as the steep pay cuts and in some cases, job losses, new home acquisition is becoming less of a priority. Furthermore, the demand for commercial property is likely to remain ever low, with many businesses managing to remain in business.
Following the transition to remote work systems due to the lockdown, it is expected that businesses will incorporate more remote working options for their employees and review their space requirements at the time of their lease renewals, both in the short-term and post-Covid.
Essentially, office space requirements are likely to shrink to manage costs.
As for the residential market, a few defaults have been recorded among renters particularly in Lagos, using flexible payment models.
Rental payment cycles are still largely annual in Nigeria, hence retrenchment and layoffs are unlikely to have an immediate effect on the market performance.
Wealthy Nigerians, institutions urged to fund research
The President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, NIOB, Kunle Awobodu, has urged wealthy Nigerians and institutions to invest in research for societal development.
Awobodu who affirmed his firm belief in the potentials of the black man for excellence, made the call for investment in research at the second edition of the lecture series of the Association of Builders in Academia.
Challenging participants to explore local sources of funding for their research endeavours, he said bringing research outputs to a finished level for society’s adoption is a crucial part of the research ecosystem.
Awobodu elucidated on NIOB’s commitment to research as manifested in its ongoing efforts at realising the development of a world-class research centre in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
According to him, part of the key objectives of the centre is to research into alternative building materials and promotion of skills for the nation’s development.
The Chairman of the Association of Builders in Academia, Prof. Martin Dada, had earlier set the tone for the lecture as he welcomed participants and reminded them that men of ideas rule the world.
He urged participants to continue in the search for workable ideas to advance society. Two resource persons spoke on Exploring Opportunities for Research Grants, Conferences and Publications.
The resource persons were: Sani Kunya, a professor of Building and a former Sub-Dean of Students Affairs of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; and James Rotimi, an Associate Professor of Construction Management at the Massey University, New Zealand.
Kunya explained the concept of research grant and related it to the mandate and history of the Nigerian Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND.
He also challenged participants to source research grants for advancing scientific knowledge, career development, increased visibility and supplementing provisions for the development of new programmes in their respective institutions.
He referred to what was termed the global-local context and took participants through the processes of writing research proposals for grant support.
He then explained some potentials of grant support available at university levels and also TETFUND.
Associate Prof. Rotimi acknowledged the need for research but emphasised that researches should aim at closing the gap between the industry and the academia, pointing out that a researcher should engage the industry to identify industry’s concerns and what he termed ‘wicked problems’ of the organisation or society.
“Beyond scoring points in publications, the researcher must demonstrate the impact of his research on society or sectors thereof,” Rotimi stated.
He further identified some areas of interest for a typical research funding agency which include a clear indication of the problem that needs to be solved and how it is to be solved, a credible plan for implementation and how to turn knowledge into benefits for the society.
Rotimi further emphasised the need for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research teams to consider the research from various perspectives and the need for communication of how each member of the team would contribute to the research endeavour, while harping on the need for research proposals to align with the interests of funding agency.
Rotimi gave example of a research project he is leading in New Zealand, which was started in the year 2020 and funded by a government agency in New Zealand, with the potentials of showing the gains accruable from a reorganised construction sector’s market.
On conferences, Rotimi opined that “Opportunities should be provided for practitioner based views not necessarily following any serious academic format.
In the process, industry’s needs and concerns can be mapped and addressed in research endeavours”.
Prof. Mike Oladokun of the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti state, shared his experience of how he won a research grant of about a million South African rands (about N30 million Naira at the time of winning the grant) from The World Academy of Sciences.
Oladokun drew from this and other experiences to encourage participants to persevere in proposal writing and search for funding.
Prof. Abimbola Windapo of the University of Cape Town, Prof. Myha Stanley, Prof. Godwin Idoro, Prof. Akananiye Umoh, Abdulhameed Sambo of the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria and other participants from various tertiary institutions in Nigeria were among several egg heads that attended the virtual lecture.