• Monday, February 26, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Abuja investment expo to explore opportunities in ‘rent to own’ for mass home ownership

Abuja investment expo to explore opportunities in ‘rent to own’ for mass home ownership
What are the key expectations for participants at the expo?
The Expo is about attracting more investment into the country and particularly the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This year’s own is being organised to consolidate and build on the gains of the previous editions.
We are also using this to foster closer working relationship and cooperation between the public and the private sectors so that they don’t see themselves as competitors rather to begin to see themselves as complementing each other’s role geared towards brining about increased economic development.
Also we want to use this year’s edition to see how we could tackle the concerns of housing deficit. It is no more news that Nigeria has a growing 17 milllion housing deficits, meaning that about 17 million Nigerians are either poorly accommodated or not accommodated at all. We want to use the investment Expo to see how we can tackle all these issues.
How often do we expect this event or is it just a one-off thing?
It is not going to be a one-off thing, but at least we have to start from somewhere. In doing that, we are introducing and pushing a scheme called ‘Rent to own’ housing scheme, whereby we get the housing estate operators to allow the tenant the opportunity to own houses by paying rent, of which that rent is taking as part payment of the purchase price of the house overtime.
We have found out that most people in the middle class and some civil servants cannot afford housing costs.
We also want to use this year’s edition to tackle high cost of housing‎. We want to tackle it from three ends: one is to appeal to the government agencies that allocate lands, to ensure that these plots are allocated to housing developers, not speculators that would get the land and re-sell.
Secondly, we are also using it to promote the production of building materials locally. Because if you get these building materials at lower prices, that will definitely bring down the cost of the building itself.
The third one is the cost of finance. We are looking at construction fundings and mortgages to ensure that it remains at single digit, not just on paper but in practice.
At the investment expo, are you looking at a model to attract private capital ‎into housing sector?
‎I’ve been saying it that government has no business to direct provision of houses. What they need to do is to provide the enabling environment, the infrastructure, and also encourage private sector investors to invest.
If you allocate the land for instance to investors instead of speculators, the investor would have saved up the money he would have used in buying land. Likewise if you provide infrastructure, you would have also saved him the money for that. Whatever money, he would have used in providing the infrastructure would be used in providing the housing and it would hep him provide more housing since the government has put up the basic infrastructure.
 
In that aspect, what should the government concentrate on? 
 
The government should concentrate on making lands available. What they should now do is to ensure that whosever that is being given the land will not re-sell it, but will develop it. They can give the land to investors and give a time frame, during which if you don’t embark on active development of the land it, they will withdraw it. ‎They can make it an accelerated development strategy and even give six months window to the allotees. The estate infrastructure, in this case, should be done by the estate developers.
 
How will the AfCFTA signing impact on this expo?
 
We have always suggested to the government to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa and we are all over the world. We will be the greatest beneficiary of that common market. 
 
Recall, this expo is not just housing ‎but ensuring Nigeria’s economic growth while attracting investment to the country in various sectors of the economy. So what we are talking about is opening up more investments to the overall economy,and get more people engaged in jobs and other economic activities. We are striving to see an emergence of the middle class, and it is only the private sector that could do that.