Real estate players, leading manufacturers of building materials and housing finance experts have offered innovative and sustainable solutions to tackling the housing problem in Nigeria.

The stakeholders in the housing and construction industry, at the 16th Africa International Housing Show (AIHS) held penultimate week in Abuja, proposed various ways of solving the housing conundrum.

Housing for all: WACL proposes off-site construction method

At the AIHS, West African Ceramics Ltd (WACL), a leader in the manufacture of ceramic tiles and marbles in Nigeria, urged the built environment to adopt the off-site construction method.

The Managing Director (MD) of WACL, Bhaskar Rao, said the off-site construction method was modern, sustainable and could boost the housing sector.

Rao, who spoke during a panel discussion on the theme: “Housing for All: The Role of Government in Creating an Effective Enabling Environment”, said adopting the method was a sure way to tackling the prevailing housing deficit in the country.

According to a statement by the spokesperson of WACL, Rao said one of the key factors accounting for the housing deficit was that houses were not being delivered fast enough in proportion to the rate of population growth, especially in cities.

The statement reads in part: “In view of the aforementioned, the adoption of off-site construction methods becomes imperative and a viable and sustainable alternative to provide housing for all; and to this end, we have extended our brand from ceramic-related product portfolio to light gauge steel as a deliberate effort and investment to provide alternative solutions in curbing the housing deficit in the country, which is off-site construction method.”

The MD further said the royal light gauge steel would revolutionise building construction in Nigeria as it offered cost effectiveness, sustainable and long-term value propositions.

He explained that, “Steel trusses are fire-resistant, rigid, durable, design flexibility – which means that they offer significantly enhanced design opportunities because they can be designed and engineered for longer spans; span long lengths and distance than wooden trusses; and does not require chemical treatment like the wooden trusses.”

The lead architect of WACL, Amaka Onyiuke, who introduced the royal light gauge steel during a panel presentation, stressed that off-site construction systems were computer-designed and pre-engineered.

She said, “The complete structure of the building is prefabricated in the form of ready-to-install insulated panels which are joined together with lightweight steel profiles. Assembly is fast and uncomplicated and does not require specialist tools or knowledge. Completed buildings are packed in component format and delivered direct to the site location by a vehicle.”

Onyiuke noted that the method was fast, customised and a scalable construction solution; adding that it was also affordable, flexible and secure.

She said, “Commercial complexes built with steel look better, perform better, provide better environment for inhabitants and ensure fast build time, as well as guarantee return on investment.

“The off-site construction method is highly resistant to wind and earthquake; has high insulation value, saves heating and cooling costs, has low carbon footprint, and lastly, provides a considerable advantage in terms of maintenance and replacement expenses.”

Dangote Group champions innovation for estate development

The Dangote Group has reiterated its commitment to championing innovation for estate development in Nigeria.

Dangote Cement’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Rabiu Umar, revealed this at a special session of the AIHS in Abuja.

He said the disparity in the growth and metrics between rural and urban settlements had resulted in the housing shortage crisis despite several government interventions.

Umar said, “We have several platforms that focus on challenges and peculiar needs of the real estate development industry in the country.

“Given the high cost of developing new estates and in providing affordable houses, Dangote Group has come up with some recommendations, some of which are in place and some of which are new.”

He stressed that the tax credit scheme of the federal government which was initiated in 2019 by the president through the signing of Executive Order 7 on “Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment” could be deployed to the sector for effective optimisation.

He explained that the scheme would develop and deliver Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with notable investors so as to close the road infrastructure gap in the transportation sector.

“This has assisted in the construction of many roads. Tax credit can enable us to increase the speed at which we are closing the housing gap.

He added that, “The other model, which to an extent has been in existence, is the adoption of the PPP on mass housing. Government can support the development of real estate by providing the land while private sector operators, including mortgage institutions, provide the funding.”

Housing finance must match urbanisation rate — Onyema

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), Oscar Onyema, has said housing finance must match the rapid urbanisation rate before the 28 million housing units’ deficit can be addressed.

He said despite the huge potential in the nation’s capital market, it has remained an underutilised facility in addressing Nigeria’s housing gap.

Onyema said Nigeria’s current population of 218 million, with a 10-year average growth of about 2.6 per cent, had fuelled rural-urban migration at 4.95 per cent rate, which according to him, put so much pressure on available housing and other infrastructure in urban areas.

He said, “Nigeria currently faces a severe housing deficit estimated by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) to be about 28 million units.

“Solving this problem will involve creating linkages and the provision of land to property developers through increased availability of housing finance to reduce property transaction cost.”

He described the financing as the most crucial element in housing investment, noting that its availability determined access to other key inputs such as land, labour, materials and infrastructure.

He further said, “The private sector is the major catalyst of private housing in Nigeria. Capital instruments can be used to drive real estate in developed countries. Nigeria can key into this. The potential of real estate firms and mortgage systems are highly underestimated; they have barely been scratched in Nigeria.”

Proptech is future of real estate — Realtor

The MD of Octo 5 Real Estate, Jide Odusolu, has said Nigeria’s performance in providing decent homes is very low owing to its poor technology base.

He, therefore, said property technology was the way forward in efforts to delivering housing for all.

He said, “If housing can be fixed, the Nigerian economy will be greatly transformed. Digital solutions make the quality of life easy, with numerous added benefits like tracking credits and flexibility. The future of real estate revolves around technological innovations. The greatest hindrance to investment by Nigerians in the diaspora is trust, lack of efficiency and lack of transparency.

“The real estate industry is on the cusp of a digital revolution similar to FINTECH and GSM. The power of digital platforms is enhancing real estate transactions. To unlock the housing deficit in Nigeria, real estate has to go digital.”