The federal government has been urged to look beyond brick-and-mortar structures to drive mass housing as a means of tackling the country’s housing deficit now estimated at 20 million units.

Uzo Oshogwe, MD/CEO, Afriland Properties Plc, who made this call, wants the federal government to adopt creative ways and policies to provide mass housing for the largely ‘homeless’ Nigerians.

Oshogwe who spoke at the 2022 edition of the Africa International Housing Show held in Abuja recently, said there was a need for the government to adopt a different approach to achieving its aim of providing mass housing for all.

“We keep hearing about the 17–20 million housing deficit and it seems the story will never change. The real truth is that we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. There must be a drastic change in the thought process to providing affordable housing for citizens within the low to mid-income bracket,” she advised.

“Government should invest more in research and development in the area of alternative building materials and methods to ensure affordable housing for all citizens,” she added.

Oshogwe noted that there were many other local building materials and methods that significantly lower the cost of construction, advising further that government should be proactive enough to invest in them.

“Proper investment should be made in research and development to open up more roads into affordable construction technology so that we can build cheaper, more affordable homes in a shorter time,” she said.

She underscored the importance of housing and having access to finance for home ownership, pointing out that owning or renting a decent home was not a luxury, but a necessity and a human right.

Among financial institutions, housing is regarded as a high-risk venture and this, according to Oshogwe, is the reason for the high-interest rates associated with finance for home construction or purchase.

“In this regard, the National Housing Fund (NHF) must do better to ensure more contributors to the fund have access to its loans. There are a lot of difficulties associated with accessing finance under the NHF’s current structure. This must be addressed as it will give option to financing homeownership,” she said.

Afriland Properties is a property management, investment and development company, offering end-to-end services along the real estate value chain—from management to joint-venture investments.

With a portfolio size of over N10 billion and one of the largest land banks in Nigeria, Afriland is pioneering the opportunities presented by an institutional approach to real estate, serving niche markets throughout Africa.

Recently, the company launched five new development projects as part of its plans to diversify its real estate investment portfolio. These include The Rouge, Ikoyi Lagos; Iris Court, Aromire Ikeja; The Emporium, Trans Amadi PH; Afriland Mall, Abule Egba and Afriland Estate, Karmo Abuja.

It is expected that these projects will deliver housing units that will not only take many Nigerians away from the country’s crowded housing market, but also contribute to reducing the deficit.