The 2022 Africa International Housing Show (AIHS), an annual housing exhibition event climaxed with an award/gala night that saw many local and international participants scoop several awards. The show, the 16th of its kind had sought a 2 million affordable housing units provision 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 participants at the show was the Managing Director of Nigeria’s Family Homes Funds (FHF), Femi Adewole who represented Vice President Yemi Osibanjo. He said housing problems pose major challenges if left substantially unsolved. Adewole said 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 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.
He said, “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. 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.”
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 manage 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 homebuilder, that means that the lender can’t trust the home builder either and everything 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 insight 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 plays in housing development. He said, “It’s frightening to admit that the housing sector does not need the government.”
Nubi 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.
“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 enumerated the importance of building institutions in a country, infrastructure that can aid the system of a country to move forward. These infrastructure he said must be provided by the government.
He stated, “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.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Dubai-based Atlas Realty, Jason Ncube who praised the resilient spirit of Nigerians, something he described as “respectful and admirable” said the AIHS is not just an investment in its sense but an “avenue to expand your horizon as a person”.
“Everyone is coming from a tough time but, everyone is still fighting, really trying to come out from this depression. So the resilience is what I really respect and admire from everyone here. It is no secret these are tough times,” he stated.
Ncube, a Zimbabwean was full of praises for this year’s edition of the show, stating that it’s a platform to introduce many to invest in Dubai.
Although, this is his maiden appearance as an exhibitor at the show, he expected to get more insight on investments and what sort of investors could be brought from the UAE to Africa.
“We are here to exhibit on this wonderful show as we introduce people to invest in Dubai, probably it could get you residence or permanent residence status.
“Your residence also means you can apply for visa to the US or Canada from Dubai, making it easier for you. So it’s not just investment in its sense but, an avenue to expand your horizon as a person.
“Also, we are here to look at investments in the region to see what expertise we can get and what sort of investors we can bring from the UAE.
“We’ve already managed to bring investors into different parts of Africa like Zambia, Zimbabwe in the mining sector, tourism and infrastructure.
“So, it’s a vice versa relationship where we are bringing things into the country,” Ncube revealed.
The Founder of Nuel Osilama Global, Emmanuel Osilama while highlighting exposure as one of the benefits the show affords participants, said creating an impression of a product in mind, makes it easier as to know where to get such product when the need arises.
Osilama who is also the Chairman of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), FCT Chapter commended the organisation of the show and its convener, Barr. Festus Adebayo.
He said, “For business people, once you see a market that exposes your products, you always go ahead and do what you are supposed to do.
“So, the impression has been that you are growing gradually because, what we do is to expose who we are to the world. It doesn’t mean that we have to sell and make money here. The exposure is the major thing.
“Just like Coca Cola will place adverts, it doesn’t mean that they will sell Coca Cola today. Once the impression is created in your mind, every time you are thirsty and you want to take a drink, the first thing that comes to your mind is Coca Cola, Osilama added.
Osilama who is also a Council Member of Chartered Institute of Project Managers of Nigeria said his company builds houses and sells as an estate developer. We’ve been here severally and are regular participants.
“When you need a house, it’s the same thing. If we have created the impression and exposed ourselves to the right people, the right market, if people need houses, they see our billboards on the streets, they will remember they came across us here.
“The first thing that will strike them will be Nuel Osilama. So it’s the same thing every year,” he concluded.
Other stakeholders urged 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.