Our Stand (57) —
As the number of persons direly in need of housing in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, so is the country’s real estate sector been expanding rapidly under difficult circumstances. One would be surprised at the level of growth in the sector in these hard conditions, going by the number of huge beautiful edifices seen across most cities.
The Central Bank of Nigeria says the country has a growing deficit of at least 22 million homes, matched with the World Bank concurring that at least 22 million persons (the highest number globally) in the country do not have the housing they need.
For houses on the outskirts of cities in the country, are occupied by many who come in search for better life opportunities. Without much money, they chose to settle for less costly houses, mostly a room apartment (ranging from N80,000 to N120,000) in sandy and dusty communities in informal settlements around these cities.
And with these budgets for houses in these areas, they do not even come come with the basic comforts expected – such as water and electricity, good road system and other primary essentials of infrastructures.
An irony to this is, some of these amenities like water and electricity are been paid for yet, not provided when these occupants would have moved into these houses. Many of them end up buying water from the local truck pushers who are been contracted daily to bring gallons of water for sale. Each gallon goes for N50 as against N20 per gallon it’s been sold previously in some areas, while in other areas, it goes for N150 for two gallons as against six gallons previously at this rate.
A resident of New Nyanya, New Karu local government, Nasarawa State had this to say,
“You pay for water before moving into your apartment but, in the end (after moving in) there’s no water inside,” she said.
“As you can see there’s no light, there’s nothing, there’s no good road”.
Presently, the light (electricity) supply in the country has reduced drastically and this has seen an increase in the use of power generators that rely on fuel for usage. This same fuel supply is very low (as at the time of writing). Most fuel stations in the country are been accused of hoarding the commodity, testament to the long queues seen at these fuel stations daily.
These power generating machines are used by private homeowners to provide (pump) and sell water to these truck pushers at high cost (because of the increase in petrol price and its scarcity) who in turn sell at increase prices to residents in need of it.
The country’s real estate sector grew by 3.85% in the second quarter of last year, reportedly, its highest rate in the last six years. Most cities in the country like Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja have the kind of buildings and architectural designs that are in high demand.
But, as demand for higher-priced real estate increases, though, access to affordable housing is more difficult for millions of citizens. This housing disparity hugely reflects the country’s large economic divide.
For years the country’s ruling authorities (present and past) have promised countless times to address housing challenges in the country but, with minimal impacts or less results to show for their promises. Before the coming of the present administration headed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress (APC), during its campaign, pledged to build and supply one million affordable homes annually for Nigerians to help meet housing demands.
Housing development advocate and the organizer of the Abuja Housing International Show (AHIS), held annually, Festus Adebayo said the country’s housing policies/programs are not keeping up with the country’s increasing population growth each year. This was gotten from an extract with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
According to the former banker who also runs an advocacy campaign for affordable housing in the country, hoping to bring the government and housing industry together in addressing the lack of affordable housing, “if Nigeria is producing to the rate of 5 million every year, how many units of houses has the government or private sector produced in a year”? he questioned.
Adebayo warned that housing gaps in the country will continue to go wide and get worsened by the time Nigeria’s population doubles to 400 million, as is already estimated by experts in or before 2050.
Despite the growth as mentioned earlier in this write-up, the country’s real estate sector is still struggling today because this is an era where foreign exchange has gone really high and most of the construction materials have been adversely affected as a result.
And, as a counter-reactive measure, and since there may be no control over the cost of building materials, due to high exchange rates, the government (state and federal) need to bring down the cost of land as it will reflect on the cost of production by developers for houses.
Except the government wake up because it seems they have been sleeping intentionally, do more and build more houses for people in the society to live in, the housing gap will continue to go wide and millions of Nigerians will lack an affordable shelter.