Concerns Arise Over the Prevalence of Informal Settlements Amongst 70% of the Population
Operators within Nigeria's housing sector are expressing deep concerns about the fact that, nearly a century after gaining independence, more than 70% of individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa with mid-low incomes continue to reside in informal settlements.
This significant demographic, comprising a substantial portion of the sub-region's population, struggles to access decent, affordable housing, according to the sentiments shared by these operators. Their concerns came to light following a four-day conference held during the Africa International Housing Show in Abuja, Nigeria. In a declaration made at the event, the operators reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that affordable housing becomes accessible to all Africans.
The annual housing show, now in its 17th iteration, attracted participants from 32 countries, including practitioners and stakeholders from both the public and private sectors of the African housing industry.
Another pressing issue identified by these operators was the lack of reliable data, which they deemed a significant hindrance to the advancement of the housing sector. They argued that this data deficiency not only hampers investment but also undermines the overall efficiency of Africa's housing market. Festus Adebayo, CEO of Africa International Housing Show, highlighted that despite increased discussions and initiatives aimed at improving access to affordable housing, there has been limited tangible progress in terms of the number of homes constructed or acquired through the formal sector. He stressed the necessity to move from rhetoric to actual delivery of new homes.
Adebayo also noted the insufficient awareness regarding the importance of environmentally friendly construction practices and the reduction of carbon emissions resulting from housing development activities. He emphasized the critical nature of addressing this issue, given the escalating impact of climate change and its disproportionate effect on low and medium-income households.
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To address these challenges, the operators issued several calls to action. They urged the Nigerian federal government to adopt the National Housing Strategy introduced in May 2023 and to collaborate with state governments and relevant agencies, including the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), to formulate a clear implementation plan managed by a Presidential Delivery Unit.
Additionally, they called for concerted efforts among stakeholders to establish a dependable housing database. They suggested that entities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN), Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and Nigeria Population Commission (NPC) collaborate to create and manage this database under the oversight of NMRC.
In conclusion, the operators implored President Bola Tinubu to prioritize the creation of a supportive environment for the local manufacturing of construction materials. They argued that without success in this area, his administration's promise to enhance access to affordable housing may remain unfulfilled."