• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Affordable housing, basic urban services and shared prosperity

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Today, shared prosperity agenda has gone beyond mere concept to become a phenomenon that aims to remove imbalances, ensure equal opportunities, equitable and inclusive growth and enhanced security for improved quality of life and reduction of human misery.

In most Nigerian cities, human misery is also walking on two legs, and it is easily gleaned from the faces of urban slum dwellers most of whom live in squatters with little or no basic services for human existence.

Provision of affordable housing and basic urban services have therefore, become not just critical, but needful as veritable policy instrument for ensuring that Nigeria’s prosperity is shared more rationally and beneficially by the citizenry.

The imbalance between housing provision in Nigeria and the country’s rising urbanisation and population growth is alarming and, with a population of 167 million people as at 2011, the country is known to be one of the most rapidly urbanising in Africa.

“From 56 cities in 1953, Nigeria is currently estimated to have over 1,000 urban areas, with no fewer than 19 cities having a population of 1 million people and above; housing deficit in the country is estimated at  17 million units and about one million housing units per annum are required to achieve significant reduction in the national deficit, and eventually eliminate it by the year 2043, at a unit cost of $10,000,” Akon Nwakenyi, Nigeria’s minister of lands, housing and urban development she said.

Read also: The challenges of affordable housing in Nigeria

The minister who spoke on ‘Affordable Housing Finance: The Role of Government’, at a two-day conference on Global Housing Finance hosted by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington DC, USA, pointed out that the major constraints to adequate housing or homeownership in Nigeria were lack of access to serviced/titled land and sustainable long-term housing finance, emphasising that the removal of these two barriers was one of the most effective strategies for reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.

Access to serviced/titled land and sustainable long-term housing finance in this country is always tasking because apart from the huddles posed on the way to titled land, housing finance in this part of the world is the most expensive and therefore, unaffordable to majority of home seekers.

Acknowledging the universal acceptance of housing as the second most important human need after food, Nwakenyi hinted that an investment of, at least, $300 billion was required over the next 30 years for housing construction costs alone in the country.

Government needs to play a part in meeting the growing needs of urban cities in emerging markets with inclusive housing solutions and, to this end, the minister disclosed that, on the whole, through the approved National Policy on Housing and the National Policy on Urban Development (2012), progress had been made but a great deal still needed to be done.

Government, she said, had taken a number of steps including the provision of a favourable macro-economic, political and social environment for both local investment and foreign direct investment, including incentives for cost recovery and repatriation of fund and profits, etc.

“Government has also assisted developers in the supply of unencumbered land and promotion of the use of alternative building materials and new technologies in housing delivery, partnering with strong and competent non-government actors for community mobilisation in the delivery of mass housing projects and ensuring amicable resolution of conflicts,” she said.

She added that steps had also been taken in creating institutional interventions, including the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs); strengthening the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) for enhanced mortgage penetration, and the launch of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) with a target to grow the mortgage portfolio ten-fold over the next five years.

Other steps taken include undertaking reforms to strengthen and reposition the Federal Housing Authority, including the ongoing process of commercialising the  authority; and development of a Social Housing Bill awaiting passage at the National Assembly.