The Housing Development Advocacy Network has held a webinar as part of efforts to examine trends and reshape the housing sector in Nigeria after the coronavirus era.
The webinar which was themed “The Crisis in Perspective: Affordable Housing Post COVID-19”, held as a virtual video conference and witnessed insightful contributions from stakeholders and players in the housing sector, with over 350 participants joining from across the globe.
While welcoming panellists and participants to the webinar as moderator, HDAN Director, Barrister Festus Adebayo, stated that the housing sector is set to witness a drastic change shortly after the coronavirus pandemic era and it has become imperative to critically examine and predict possible trends with a view to making viable resolutions, hence the webinar.
While speaking as a Panellist, Former Managing Director of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), *Professor Charles Iyangete* pointed out the need for a National Housing Commission that can bring all players in the housing sector together with an intent to defining roles and scope of operation for better efficiency of operations.
“We need radical, bold steps to deal with the new world of COVID-19. We are at war and a post war solution is what is required. Funding is critical to fighting that battle in order to win the war. I have in the past proposed a Housing Commission to serve a coordinating role, and evolving the policies, evolving the economic model for housing, Monitoring and Evaluating housing sector performance.” he said.
In the same vein, the *Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Family Homes Funds Limited*, Femi Adewole, while contributing as a panellist stated that the housing and construction sector has the largest potential for employment after Agriculture and there is need to reconstruct the obsolete housing policies to better fit the current reality as there is a chance for greater prospect in the nearest future.
“Beyond agriculture, there is no better economic sector that can create jobs as fast as housing construction sector and we estimate that for every unit of housing that is produced, you can create between four to six jobs. So if we have a project of 300,000 homes in Nigeria, spread across all the 36 states, this will over a five-year period bring 10million people into employment. This is possible. We also need to revisit some of our housing policies that are over 30years old. It is time for rethinking.” he said.
While airing his view on the topic of discuss, the *Founder of Eximia Realty, Hakeem Ogunniran* stated that if the narrative of housing in Nigeria must change, then it is of utmost importance to commoditize housing and create a legal framework that facilitates buying and selling of houses at ease, while also adding that the industry must of necessity move away from the era of building houses to the era of manufacturing them.
On his part, the *President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN)*, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko opined that housing should be given high priority by, not only the government at all levels, but also the private sector, although government must play its role of creating an enabling environment for real estate developers; just as *a Professor of Housing at the University of Lagos, Timothy Nubi*, stated that most of the solutions to housing in the past were focused on the minority being the working class, but in the present lockdown experience, a vast majority of people living in slums in Lagos and other places could not be locked down as they do not have access to decent housing making the Post COVID-19 a tougher challenge.
Also addressing issues during the webinar was the *Former Chief Executive Officer, Ogun State Housing Corporation, Jumoke Akinwunmi* who explained that if the various institutions in the housing sector do not have people at heart, then failure could be imminent even after the pandemic as the crises stresses the relationship between housing and healthcare; while the *immediate past President of REDAN, Surv. Ugochukwu Chime* stressed the need for greater synergy and collaboration among key players and institutions in the housing sector and also the need for adequate funding and supervision of such funds for the post COVID-19 era.
Similarly, the *Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Shelter Afrique, Mr. Andrew Chimphonda* commented that on the issue of Africa not being able to meet the aspirations of the United Nations in the area of access to decent housing for Africans even before COVID-19, adding that the rate at which affordable houses are being provided is lower than the rate at which urbanization is taking place and there is need for a commensurate provision of housing, else there would be proliferation of slums even after the pandemic.
“The shortage of housing in Africa is projected at 56million units, if you are to quantify that in generic terms, you will need at least 3trillion USD to resolve that shortage of housing. So the role of Developmental Financial Institutions (DFI) cannot be the same as a normal financial bank as they must take risks and utilize the capital at its disposal to turn private capital into housing.” he said.
Meanwhile, HDAN Director, Festus Adebayo stated that the importance of such insightful webinar cannot be overstated, especially in the wake of the change that is to come upon the global economy and the housing sector after the COVID-19 pandemic, while also adding that the group would continue to host the webinar monthly, in its sworn advocacy for affordable and decent housing for Nigerians.