• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Experts urge investment in infrastructure, affordable housing to bridge devt gap

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Players in the real estate sector in Nigeria have called for investment in infrastructure and affordable housing to boost the growth and development needed to make the country a global economic powerhouse.

The experts made this call in Lagos at a Symposium with the theme, ‘Let Us Rebuild: Future-focused Solutions For Economic Growth’ organised by Diya, Fatimilehin & Co, in honour of Gboyega Fatimilehin who just turned 70.

Familehin, the founding partner of Diya, Fatimilehin & Co, said affordable homes are most necessary for the development of the country.

Read also: AIHS: Organisers, ministry team up to address housing needs, promote local production

According to him, Nigeria has the potential to be a global leader but challenges like corruption, poor infrastructure, security concerns, and limited economic diversification are hindering the country’s progress.

“We cannot deny these challenges, but we need to focus on finding practical solutions. We must diversify our economy, promote inclusiveness, and create jobs. We have the resources to do so. In the West, we have cocoa; in the North, we have cotton, and in the East, we have palm oil. We can empower individual farmers and create wealth across the country.

“In the past, we had a thriving agricultural sector, with extension services and support for farmers. We produced cocoa and other crops, and our farmers were self-sufficient. But we made mistakes, like dissolving the cocoa board. We need to learn from our past and work together to develop our country,” he added

Fatimilehin urged the government to provide an enabling environment for private-sector partnerships to thrive, adding, “we need to create an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation. We have the potential to be a rich country, but we must work together to achieve this goal.”

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the real estate sector contributed approximately 6.60 percent to Nigeria’s GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023, witnessing an increase from 6.18 percent in the previous year.

For Gbenga Olaniyan, Chairman of Estate Links, Nigeria needs to cut the bottlenecks in giving approvals to developers, especially as it concerns the requirements to meet for planning, thereby fostering diaspora investment.

Using London as a case study, he said: “You have nine different requirements. So, you conceptualise your drawings, pay a fee online, the local authorities will acknowledge and register and it goes all the way to discharging conditions. But in Lagos, we have 17 different steps, which is almost double.

“But as if this is not enough, let’s go to compliance agencies. In Lagos, you have the LASPPPA…LSSC, MPPUD, LSMTL, LASEPA, Lagos State Fire Service for a building that is just being constructed, SON, LAWMA, LSWRC, LIRS and, very recently, another law came up that even for the signage in front of your property, showing who all the consultants are, you have to go to LASAA, pay some money and get your permit to put up the signage.

“Let us examine what happens in London; you put together all your documents and submit them online, pay online and they go through your paperwork, and if everything is in order, you get an email that you can start your construction.

But if you’ve got problems, they come back to you, and inform you of the changes that you need to make, and then you send a mail back to them when you’re ready, and they come for inspection,” he said.

Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of Ondo State, noted that Nigeria still wallows in poverty and suffers from lack of meaningful development despite its large youth demographic and human capital.

Read also: FMBN set to catalyse affordable housing with N100bn off-taker guarantee

He asserted that the country has failed to transform its human capital into an asset to foster the needed economic and social development it is in dire need of.

The former governor said Nigeria hasn’t done well as a nation even after 25 years of uninterrupted democracy, stressing that its Gross Domestic Product and per capita income have significantly dwindled.

“Our economic trajectory has been disturbing. As at 1962, our GDP was $4.91 billion which was more than the GDP of South Korea which stood at $2.24 billion at that time. While we are still hovering around $400 billion, South Korea is now around $1.7 trillion with a per capita income of $33,170 compared with our own $1,700,” Mimiko said.

Mimiko, who was once a minister of Housing and Urban Development, said Nigeria is plagued with capacity and financial deficits hindering its development as a nation.

He noted that economic development can only be possible when there is security of lives and property, attributing the low investment in the country to rising insecurity.

Infrastructure, including housing, is crucial for economic growth and development, according to Lanre Olutimilehin, strategic advisor at Diya, Fatimilehin & Co.

He highlighted the interconnectedness of infrastructure, housing, and economic development, and emphasised the importance of safe, affordable, and adequate housing for people’s security, health, and economic well-being.

Also, Olutimilehin pointed out the potential of private partnerships in transforming the sector, while acknowledging the risks involved, citing the need for affordable housing, government involvement in sourcing funds, and capacity building for strategic stakeholders in the value chain.