Kingsley U.N. Chikwendu —
The African International Housing Show (AIHS), an annual housing exhibition event, has come and gone, climaxing with an award/gala night that saw many local and international participants scoop several awards. This year’s edition, the 16th had a target of providing two million affordable housing units for low income earners across the country.
Tagged “Housing for all”, the event which took place at the International Conference Center, Abuja, had participants deliberating on how to ensure better housing solutions in a post pandemic world that witnessed Covid-19 having a terrible impact on the housing market, globally.
Participants within and outside the African continent contributed with speeches, lectures, debates on ways of improving the housing market, both domestically and globally.
Among the participants at the show include the Managing Director of Nigeria’s Family Homes Funds (FHF), Femi Adewole representing the country’s Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, said housing problems pose major challenges if left substantially unsolved. Adewole stated that there could be no shortage of policies and programmes by the country’s different government administrations to tackle housing problems but, poor implementation of these policies remains a persistent dilemma.
He listed two categories of housing problems which he said are issues of inadequate housing supply to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, most significant for persons on low income.
The second he identified as a large proportion of the country’s existing stock of housing are substandard houses which do not meet global accepted standards of habitability.
Adewole added that a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study revealed that 75 percent of the 42 million housing units in the country, about 31.6 million of them are substandard.
“So, there are few problems of creating new homes but, there are problems of actually addressing the substandard nature of a significant number of the housing units we have, he said.
“These challenges will continue to deepen with the increasing social and income inequalities in our society.
“At the extreme, many households are faced with a dilemma of survival between food and adequate shelter. This is not congruent with the administration’s vision for a better Nigeria where even the weakest amongst us have the dignity of a decent home, Femi added.
Another participant, Robert Honsby emphasized that the need for trust between a homebuilder and buyer is key for effective transaction. Honsby is the Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of JOBOMAX GLOBAL, USA.
He stated that homebuilders ought to mange customers in a way that promotes transparency as regards what is happening with their finances and construction projects, adding that if there is lack of trust, ‘everything begins to fall back’.
“If a homebuyer can’t trust the home builder, that means that the lender can’t trust the home builder either and every thing begins to fall back.
“So, what we have done at JOBOMAX with the financial company that we work closely with, is to address that problem.
“Homebuilders should manage their customers in a way that gives those customers transparency, insight on what’s happening with their accounts and insight on what’s happening with their construction.
“It gives the lender or the investor or whoever it is that is providing the capital an incite on how these homebuilders start up, is the homebuilder delivering? How good a job are the homebuilders building? Honsby added.
Professor Timothy Nubi, the Founder/President of Ideal Habitat Initiative laid much emphasis on the important roles the government play in housing development. He said It’s frightening to admit that the housing sector does not need the government.
Nubi also added that everyone is needed to work together and achieve a common goal for the housing sector.
“The ability to bring energy, different views, different groups, different generations, different success stories (is important). What we lack in this country is not that we are not succeeding as individuals but, not working together. If you want to go fast, work alone but, if you want to go farther, work together, he said.
“So, we’ve been trying to go alone, fast but, not making any progress and there are things we’ve said here today that really frighten me.
“We are almost getting into a conclusion that we don’t need the government, it’s so frightening. No matter your efforts in life, if you don’t have good governance, you cannot make progress, Nubi added.
He went further to enumerate on the importance of building institutions in a country, infrastructures that can aid the system of a country to move forward. These infrastructures he said must be provided for, by the government.
“No matter how hard working we are, if government fails to perform its role, we can never make progress, we need them. It is deceit that we should just allow them (to be on their own).
“We need a government that will perform, we need a government that will make our efforts work”, he stated.
Other stakeholders urge the Nigerian government to foster a culture that supports home ownership, arguing that housing resolves all other problems, including insecurity. Requests were made for the government to develop policies aimed at resolving every problem in the housing industry.
The award gala night had Nigerian Hip Hop music star, Waje in attendance. She lit up the night with several of her hit songs.