By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, has said the N159.5 billion investment needed to address the 20 million housing deficit in Nigeria, according to a study by the World Bank Group, provides a huge untapped investment opportunity.

He said this issue could be addressed through the non-interest segment of the capital market, calling on stakeholders to join hands together to bridge the gap.

The SEC chief, who was at the webinar themed the Non-Interest Capital Market as Panacea to Mortgage Financing in Nigeria, said the focus of the programme was timely and relevant.

“I have observed with delight the attention this webinar has generated and come to the conclusion that it is a clear indication of the keen interest in the potential that the non-interest finance segment holds in furthering the development of the Capital Market and the growth of our economy.

“According to a World Bank study, Nigeria’s housing sector requires an investment of about N59.5 trillion to bridge the 20 million housing deficit that is increasing yearly. Undoubtedly, this shows a huge untapped investment opportunity in the Nation’s real estate sector,” he said.

Mr Yuguda stated that governments at both federal and state levels and businesses in Nigeria have been tapping various available sources of financing, including capital market products, for funding real estate developments. The methods of finance have various associated costs, some of which are deemed to be high.

He emphasised that the Nigerian capital market provides a platform for mobilizing long-term funds for real estate investments to complement the mortgage funding sources by commercial banks, primary mortgage institutions, non-governmental organizations, cooperative societies and international finance institutions.

“The capital market creates investment opportunities to enhance the flow of low-cost, long-term funds to the real estate sector through investment vehicles such as Real Estate Investment Trust Schemes (REITs) and mortgage-backed securities. These instruments are usually traded on recognised exchanges.

“I am delighted to inform you that some corporate entities have started taking advantage of the non-interest capital market.

In 2021, Family Homes Funds Limited, a social housing initiative promoted by the federal government, issued a N10 billion Sukuk to finance residential houses across the six geopolitical zones of the country, and it was oversubscribed by over 200 per cent.

“The company also recently raised another N10 billion from the market. This development was a strong indication of the readiness of the capital market and the corresponding investors’ appetite for non-interest mortgage instruments.

“We strongly believe that the operationalization of the non-interest pension fund (Fund VI) and the recent amendment of the pension act to facilitate withdrawals from RSA for down payments of equity contributions for a mortgage will increase the quantum of low-cost, long-term investible funds to the mortgage industry by unlocking the untapped capital in the economy.”

The webinar, he said, therefore, aims to create awareness of the non-interest capital market instruments as a new source of financing for mortgage institutions as well as to facilitate the active participation of the private sector towards positioning the sector to perform optimally and contribute to the overall economy.

Mr Yuguda expressed confidence that the non-interest finance experts at the webinar would evoke the interest and attention of participants and enhance their knowledge on the subject to eventually lead to the birth of promoters and off-takers of new non-interest products in the capital market.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director CEO of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Mr Madu Hamman, stated that the non-interest financial products have gained a lot of interest from investors in Nigeria and globally and could aid housing finance sources and expand the frontiers of home ownerships through non-interest finance sources.

He stated that the engagement would go a long way in giving the capital market the needed boost to unbundle funds that were hitherto not accessible to Nigerians, adding that it is obvious that the Nigerian economy is on the verge of experiencing a tremendous transformation in this regard.

Mr Hamman said that sourcing non-interest funds from the capital were very necessary for seamless operations as funds sourced from interest-based facilities cannot be leveraged to deliver on non-interest mortgage transactions.

“We are committed to linking the mortgage market with the Nigerian capital market and thereby ensure sustainable long-term funding for the housing and mortgage sector. The non-interest capital market is, therefore, one area for such sustainable long-term funds that can be assured,” he said.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company, Mr Kehinde Ogundimu, said there is no way the nation can meet the housing deficit without having the non-interest services sector actively participating in it and commended the SEC on the initiative.