Babatunde Oralusi is an entrepreneur of note who plays in a number of sectors of the Nigerian economy. In this interview with Chuka Uroko, he spoke on a wide range of issues bordering on real estate- home ownership, housing deficit in Nigeria, mortgage financing, why the Badagry axis of Lagos State is emerging as a choice destination for investors, among others. Excerpts:
Every real estate promoter or investor believes he/she is helping to bridge the gap, but over the years, housing deficit is said to have remained at over 17 million. Do you think that Nigeria is addressing this issue rightly?
Housing deficit is a significant issue in Nigeria, and the government has been implementing various measures to address this important issue. The following are some of the approaches that have been in place to address the issue:
First, the National Housing Policy: The Nigerian government developed a National Housing Policy aimed at increasing access to affordable housing.
This policy focuses on public-private partnerships, mortgage financing, and incentives for developers to promote the construction of affordable housing units.
Second, National Housing Fund (NHF): The NHF was established to provide long-term finance for housing development. It collects contributions from Nigerian workers and offers mortgage loans at affordable interest rates.
Third, Social Housing Programmes: The government has initiated social housing programmes to cater to low-income earners. One such programme is the Family Homes Fund (FHF), which provides affordable housing options through partnerships with private sector developers.
Fourth, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Collaboration between the government and private sector developers has been encouraged to boost housing construction. PPPs help leverage private sector expertise, resources, and funding to develop affordable housing projects.
Fifth, Mortgage System Reforms: Efforts have been made to reform the mortgage system and make it more accessible to Nigerians. This includes the establishment of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) to provide long-term funds to mortgage lenders.
Sixth, Infrastructure Development: Improving infrastructure, such as roads, water supply, and electricity, is crucial for housing development. The government has prioritised infrastructure projects to create an enabling environment for housing construction.
Seventh, Regulatory Reforms: The government has been working on streamlining and improving the regulatory framework for the housing sector. This includes addressing issues related to land acquisition, titling, and building permits to facilitate housing development.
It’s important to note that while these measures are in place, the housing deficit in Nigeria remains a complex and multifaceted challenge. The government continues to work towards finding sustainable solutions and addressing the housing needs of its citizens.
In other climes, people access housing through mortgage, but in Nigeria it is difficult to achieve that. Those who purchase housing do sop out of their own savings without mortgage. What is your suggestion on how this could be addressed?
With these listed programmes in place, Nigerian government can address the issue raised regarding mortgage in order to close the gap of housing deficit in Nigeria.
Improve Access to Mortgage Financing: Enhancing access to mortgage financing is crucial. This can be achieved by partnering with financial institutions to increase the availability of mortgage loans, especially for low and middle-income earners. Simplifying loan application processes and reducing bureaucratic hurdles would also help.
Lower Interest Rates: High interest rates are a major barrier to mortgage affordability. The government can work with financial institutions to explore ways of reducing mortgage interest rates, such as providing interest rate subsidies or establishing refinancing mechanisms to lower the cost of funds for lenders.
Expand the National Housing Fund (NHF): The NHF can be expanded to increase its capacity to provide long-term financing for housing development. This could involve encouraging more workers to contribute to the fund, exploring options for additional funding sources, and ensuring efficient and transparent management of the NHF resources.
Strengthen Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Market: Developing a robust secondary mortgage market is crucial for long-term mortgage financing. The government can support the establishment and growth of a mortgage-backed securities market, which would enable lenders to sell mortgage loans and free up capital for further lending.
Enhance Credit Infrastructure: Strengthening the credit infrastructure, including credit bureaus and credit scoring systems, can improve risk assessment and enable lenders to offer more competitive mortgage products. This would require establishing a comprehensive and reliable credit information system and promoting data sharing among financial institutions.
Promote Alternative Financing Models: Exploring alternative financing models, such as rent-to- own schemes or shared equity arrangements, can provide more flexible options for homeownership. These models can help address the affordability challenges faced by many Nigerians.
Capacity Building and Public Awareness: Conducting training programs and workshops for mortgage lenders, regulators, and housing professionals can enhance their skills and knowledge in mortgage financing. Additionally, public awareness campaigns can educate Nigerians about the benefits and processes involved in accessing mortgage loans, encouraging more people to consider homeownership.
Address Land Issues: Land acquisition and title registration processes often present challenges in Nigeria. Streamlining and digitizing land administration systems, addressing issues related to multiple land ownership claims, and ensuring proper documentation can facilitate the mortgage process and reduce risks for lenders.
By implementing these measures, Nigeria can strengthen its mortgage programmes and make homeownership more accessible and affordable for its citizens, thereby addressing the housing deficit.
Those who sell real estate products along the Lekki-Epe corridor are using the Dangote Refinery as a bet so to speak; what attraction does investment in real estate on Badagry axis hold?
Investment in real estate on the Badagry axis of Nigeria holds several attractions. Here are some key factors that make it an appealing location for real estate investment:
Proximity to Lagos: Badagry is located in close proximity to Lagos, one of the largest cities in Africa. Its strategic location offers the advantage of being near the economic and commercial hub of Nigeria, which presents opportunities for business and employment.
Infrastructure Development: The Nigerian government has been investing in infrastructure development in the Badagry axis. This includes road networks, the expansion of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, and plans for a light rail system. Improved infrastructure enhances accessibility, connectivity, and the overall desirability of the area for residential and commercial purposes.
Tourism Potential: Badagry is known for its rich historical heritage, including landmarks related to the slave trade era. This makes it a potential tourist destination. Investing in real estate in Badagry can tap into the growing tourism industry and benefit from the development of hotels, resorts, and other hospitality-related properties.
Development of Free Trade Zone: The Badagry Free Trade Zone (BFTZ) is being developed as a special economic zone to promote trade and industrial activities. The establishment of the BFTZ can attract businesses and investors, driving demand for commercial real estate in the area.
Beachfront Properties: Badagry is blessed with beautiful beaches along the Atlantic coastline. This offers the potential for developing beachfront properties such as resorts, vacation homes, or recreational facilities, which can be attractive to both local and international buyers.
Affordable Land: Compared to some other areas in Lagos, land prices in Badagry may be relatively more affordable. This can make it an attractive option for real estate developers and investors looking for cost-effective opportunities with the potential for future appreciation.
Growing Population: The population in the Badagry axis has been increasing steadily, driven by urbanisation and migration from neighbouring areas. The growing population translates into demand for housing, both residential and commercial, creating investment opportunities in the real estate sector.
On these points, it is important to conduct thorough research and due diligence before making any real estate investment decisions. Factors such as market trends, property demand, regulatory considerations, and the reputation of developers should all be carefully considered.
As a real estate proprietor, what does the future hold for investment in the sector?
However, it’s important to note that the real estate market is influenced by various factors, including economic conditions, government policies, and societal changes, which can impact investment opportunities. Here are some potential trends that could shape the future of real estate investment:
Urbanisation and Population Growth: Urbanisation is expected to continue, leading to increased demand for housing and commercial properties in cities. Rapid population growth in certain regions may create opportunities for real estate investment, particularly in areas with limited housing supply.
Sustainable and Green Buildings: Environmental sustainability is gaining prominence in the real estate industry. Investors are increasingly interested in eco-friendly buildings that incorporate energy-efficient features and utilize renewable resources. Green buildings may offer attractive investment prospects as sustainability becomes a key consideration for tenants and buyers.
Technology and Smart Buildings: The integration of technology in real estate is likely to expand further. Smart buildings equipped with advanced automation, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and connectivity features can enhance efficiency, reduce operational costs, and improve tenant experiences. Investing in technology-driven real estate projects may offer long-term advantages.
Co-working and Flexible Spaces: The rise of remote work and the gig economy has fueled the demand for flexible workspaces. Co-working spaces and serviced offices have gained popularity, presenting investment opportunities in this evolving sector. Adaptable spaces that cater to changing work dynamics may continue to be in high demand.
E-commerce and Industrial Real Estate: The growth of e-commerce has led to increased demand for warehouse and logistics facilities. Investing in industrial real estate, particularly in locations with strong transportation infrastructure, can be promising as the e-commerce industry continues to expand.
Demographic Shifts: Changes in demographics, such as an aging population or shifting household compositions, can impact real estate investment. For example, investing in senior living facilities or multi-generational housing developments could cater to changing demographic needs.
Affordable Housing: The need for affordable housing remains a pressing issue in many regions. Investors who focus on developing or acquiring affordable housing properties may find opportunities to address this demand while generating stable returns.
Policy and Regulation: Government policies and regulations, such as tax incentives, zoning changes, or supportive measures for certain sectors, can influence real estate investment
Prospects. Staying informed about evolving policies and understanding their potential impact is crucial for making informed investment decisions.
It’s important to note that the real estate market can be cyclical, with periods of growth and downturns. Conducting thorough market research, analyzing local market conditions, and seeking professional advice are essential when considering real estate investment.
One concern some people have expressed is the possible congestion that could result from increased economic activities in the Badagry corridor when the road construction is completed. Just as the fear when the Dangote Refinery begins to roll out products?
To address the potential congestion that could result from increased economic activities in the Badagry corridor once road construction is completed, several solutions can be considered in government is aware to provide in order to minimise the effect of likely congestion:
Road Expansion and Upgrades: Continuously monitor and assess traffic patterns and volumes to identify areas of congestion. Based on these assessments, consider expanding existing roads, constructing new bypasses, or implementing lane additions to accommodate the increased traffic flow.
Improved Public Transportation: Enhance public transportation systems, such as introducing dedicated bus lanes, expanding bus routes, and increasing the frequency of services. Implementing reliable and efficient mass transit options can incentivise people to use public transportation instead of relying on private vehicles, reducing congestion on the roads.
Integrated Transport Planning: Adopt a comprehensive approach to transport planning by integrating different modes of transportation. This includes creating intermodal terminals that connect various transportation modes, such as buses, trains, and ferries. Efficient interchanges and seamless connectivity between different modes can reduce congestion and improve overall transportation efficiency.
Traffic Management Systems: Implement intelligent traffic management systems that utilize technologies such as smart traffic lights, dynamic traffic flow monitoring, and real-time traffic updates. These systems can optimise traffic signal timings, detect congestion hotspots, and provide alternative routes to divert traffic away from congested areas.
Carpooling and Ride-Sharing: Encourage carpooling and ride-sharing initiatives by creating dedicated lanes or parking spaces for shared vehicles. Promote awareness campaigns and incentives to encourage commuters to share rides, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and alleviating congestion.
Active Transportation Infrastructure: Develop and improve infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. This includes constructing sidewalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly pathways. Encouraging active transportation options can reduce reliance on cars for short trips and help ease congestion.
Future-Proof Planning: Consider future growth and development projections while designing and implementing infrastructure projects. Anticipating potential population increases and economic activities can guide the construction of adequate road networks and transportation systems to accommodate future demand.
Land Use Planning: Encourage mixed-use developments and strategically plan commercial, residential, and industrial zones to minimise commute distances and reduce congestion. Promote the concept of live-work-play neighborhoods, where people can access essential amenities and job opportunities within close proximity.
It’s crucial to involve urban planners, transportation experts, and local stakeholders in the planning and implementation of these solutions. Regular evaluation and adaptation of transportation strategies based on evolving needs and technological advancements will be essential to effectively address congestion challenges in the Badagry corridor.
What informed your choice of Badagry for the residential estate you are proposing?
These are some of the factors that individuals or developers might consider when choosing Badagry for a residential estate: Location and Proximity: Badagry’s location near Lagos, a major economic hub, can make it an attractive choice for a residential estate.
Its proximity to Lagos offers the advantage of easy access to employment opportunities, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and other amenities.
Serene Environment: Badagry is known for its peaceful and serene environment. It is away from the hustle and bustle of the city, providing a more relaxed and tranquil setting for residents. This peaceful atmosphere can be appealing to individuals seeking a quieter residential community.
Beachfront Access: Badagry has beautiful beaches along the Atlantic coastline, offering the potential for beachfront properties and leisure amenities. Living near the beach can be a desirable feature for those who enjoy coastal living, water activities, and a scenic environment.
Historical and Cultural Significance: Badagry has a rich historical heritage, including sites and landmarks related to the slave trade era. This historical significance can attract individuals interested in cultural exploration and heritage tourism. Incorporating elements of the local culture and history into the residential estate can add value and uniqueness to the development.
Potential for Development: Badagry is undergoing infrastructure development, including the expansion of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway and plans for a light rail system. These infrastructure projects can improve connectivity and enhance the overall attractiveness of the area for residential development.
Potential for Appreciation: Investing in real estate in an emerging area like Badagry may offer the potential for future appreciation. As economic activities and infrastructure projects continue to develop, property values in Badagry could increase over time, benefiting property owners and investors.
It’s important to conduct market research, feasibility studies, and consult with experts in real estate development to make informed decisions when choosing a location for a residential estate. Local market dynamics, demand-supply factors, infrastructure plans, and target buyer demographics should all be carefully evaluated to ensure the viability and success of the project.
The issue of land grabbing or the Omo-Onile syndrome has been a disturbing one in Lagos. How do you think government can deal with this? How insulated is your own estate from such menace. Simply put, how protected are your clients in this regard?
Some general insights on how the government can address the issue of land grabbing and protect individuals and their investments are hereby listed below:
Strengthen Legal Framework: The government can enact and enforce robust legislation that clearly defines land ownership, rights, and penalties for illegal land grabbing activities. It’s essential to have comprehensive laws in place that protect the rights of property owners and provide avenues for legal recourse in case of land disputes.
Improved Land Administration Systems: Implementing efficient and transparent land administration systems can help prevent land grabbing. Digital land registries, proper documentation, and effective land title registration processes can ensure secure property transactions and minimise the risk of fraud or illegal land activities.
Enhanced Law Enforcement: The government should prioritize the enforcement of existing laws against land grabbing. This includes effective investigation and prosecution of land grabbers and perpetrators of fraudulent land transactions. Establishing specialized units or task forces dedicated to addressing land grabbing can help improve enforcement efforts.
Public Awareness and Education: Conducting public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about their land rights and the risks of land grabbing is crucial. Informing individuals about proper land acquisition processes, encouraging them to conduct due diligence, and providing access to legal assistance can empower people to protect themselves from land grabbing activities.
Collaboration with Community Leaders: Engaging with community leaders and stakeholders can help in addressing land grabbing issues at the grassroots level. Collaborative efforts involving traditional rulers, local authorities, and community representatives can raise awareness, promote accountability, and discourage illegal land activities.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: Facilitating alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or arbitration, can provide quicker and cost-effective resolutions for land disputes. These mechanisms can help alleviate the burden on the court system and provide fair and efficient outcomes for all parties involved.
Regular Monitoring and Enforcement: The government should establish mechanisms to monitor land transactions and ownership transfers. This includes conducting regular audits, inspections, and checks to identify and prevent fraudulent activities or unauthorised land acquisitions.
It’s important to note that while these measures can help address the issue of land grabbing, the government’s effectiveness in dealing with this challenge may vary. It’s advisable for individuals and investors to conduct thorough due diligence, engage legal professionals, and adhere to proper land acquisition procedures to mitigate the risks associated with land grabbing.
You said that the proposed estate will offer entertainment, education, tourism and luxury diaspora residential villas; could you please let us understand this vision properly?
Certainly; the vision for the proposed estate includes offering a range of amenities and features to cater to different aspects of residents’ lifestyles. Here’s a breakdown of the elements mentioned: Entertainment: The estate aims to provide entertainment facilities or amenities within its premises.
This could include recreational areas such as parks, gardens, sports facilities, swimming pools, or dedicated spaces for community events and activities. The goal is to create a vibrant and enjoyable living environment where residents can relax, socialize, and engage in recreational pursuits.
Education: The estate envisions incorporating educational facilities or partnering with educational institutions to provide access to quality education within the community. This could include schools, learning centers, or educational programs tailored to meet the needs of residents, such as daycare facilities, primary schools, or vocational training centers.
Tourism: The estate aims to tap into the tourism potential of the surrounding area, leveraging its location and attractions to offer residents and visitors unique experiences. This could involve collaborating with local tourism stakeholders to promote tourism activities, organizing guided tours, or developing tourist- friendly infrastructure and amenities within the estate.
Luxury Diaspora Residential Villas: The estate aims to provide high-end residential villas specifically designed to cater to the needs and preferences of the diaspora community. These luxury villas would offer upscale amenities, spacious living spaces, modern designs, and premium finishes to provide a luxurious living experience for residents.
The focus would be on creating an environment that combines comfort, exclusivity, and a sense of home for the diaspora community.
Overall, the vision for the proposed estate is to create a self-contained community that goes beyond providing residential units. It aims to offer a holistic living experience by integrating entertainment, education, tourism opportunities, and luxury residential options within the estate. The goal is to provide residents with a diverse range of amenities and services to enhance their quality of life and create a vibrant, self-sustaining community.