A real estate developer and founder of Lifecard International Investment Limited, a real estate firm based out of Lagos, and known for her desire to provide solutions to Nigeria’s housing problem, Grace Ofure Ibhakhomu, has disclosed a collaborative approach is necessary for solving Nigeria’s housing deficit.

Grace, whose company provides access to affordable property ownership options for the middle and upper class, made the disclosure while speaking at the company’s end-of-year conference for 2022 recently.

The award-winning property icon spoke on opportunities and challenges bedeviling Nigeria’s housing development, and noted that a collaborative approach is necessary for solving Nigeria’s housing deficit;

According to her, “Nigeria now stands at the precipice of an impending housing crisis. With an ever-growing population, an economic downturn, and insufficient government intervention programmes in the housing sector, the most populous black nation must prepare for the future.

“In 2012, Nigeria had a housing deficit of about 17 million. Today, the national housing deficit has risen to a whopping 28 million. These houses must be built to meet our national needs; otherwise, we’re looking at a major housing meltdown with even more dire economic implications.

“The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, put it succinctly in one of his speeches saying we are aware that our existing national infrastructures are decrepit and crumbling. We are housing challenged. We have, as a nation, been inconsistent in our infrastructural planning and funding.

“This is an area we must tackle urgently, we need to build 20 million houses, and that will cost us an estimated 60 trillion naira’. Perhaps the big question is, where and how do you tackle a challenge so great?
“We cannot easily fathom the financial implications of such projections. Without a cohesive, integrated and cooperative approach between all stakeholders, meeting Nigeria’s housing needs is impossible.

“Government must continue to promote subvention programmes for real estate development and homeownership and create required legislation to regulate and preserve efficient housing and infrastructure development across every sector and area of need. To ensure the continuity and sustainability of these initiatives, the government must transition from a politically tenured programme to a national housing strategy that employs the two critical variables of vision and commitment. By doing this, real estate initiatives by the government will enjoy continued patronage and growth in its lifetime.

“Infrastructure development distribution is a key determining factor for housing distribution. Government must continue to encourage investment in infrastructure for housing, energy, transport, irrigation, and telecoms in rural and urban areas in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.

“Government and other stakeholders must continue to look into rural industrialization. A well-distributed industrialization strategy will help to stem the tide of rural-to-urban migration and encourage developers to look into providing housing in these areas of need.

“In the private sector, real estate players must engage relevant government agencies and parastatals, financial institutions and private equity funds to raise capital for their projects as the major challenge for housing development in the country is adequate funding.

“Nigeria is a growth market in the global real estate industry. That’s the fact. While Nigerians are yet to come to terms with that, international investors are keeping close tabs on the African real estate space with careful attention to Nigeria. Perhaps the major indicator of this inherent opportunity is our ever-growing population and Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s biggest economies in the near future.

“Knowledge dissemination will be a key enabler in our drive for national housing sustainability. Knowledgeable professionals in the real estate sector must be willing to promote real estate business literacy to educate Nigerians about the opportunities for wealth creation in the real estate space”.

In a bid to pioneer a knowledge economy of this sort, the award-winning entrepreneur founded Lifecard University to educate Nigerians with a flair for real estate on how to start and scale a real estate business in Nigeria, without prior knowledge or skill.

“With technology integration, we can further galvanize and mobilize Nigerians to invest in real estate projects in exchange for profit. Real estate stakeholders must leverage information technology to enable Nigeria’s upwardly mobile population with access to seamless real estate investments. That way, we will engineer a movement for Nigerians to build Nigeria while being able to pool resources for our housing needs domestically.

“To encourage more participation in the Nigerian real estate project, developers must ensure that they provide extended payment plans for Nigerians to own their home as is currently being done with Grace Ofure Ibhakhomu’s Lifecard company which provides aspiring homeowners an opportunity to own their homes with affordable installment plans”, Grace noted.