Poverty is a native in Nigeria. It is estimated that over 50 percent of the country’s population is trapped in the belt that has to survive on $1 a day. This is a country where a university graduate on the current government’s N-Power programme earns N30, 000 ($83) a month or $2.70 a day and the national minimum wage is N18,000—an equivalent of $60 a month.
“Clearly, these abysmal income levels make home ownership unaffordable for the majority”, said Chidi Amuta, Chairman/CEO, Outcomes Communications Nigeria, who was a keynote speaker at the investiture of new executives of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos State Branch; report by Chuka Uroko a Business Bay reporter.
According to the Centre for Affordable Home Financing in Africa, an average middle-level apartment in a Nigerian city costs up to $100,000, attracting an average rent of $5,000 a year. Amuta who spoke on ‘Avoiding an Epidemic of Homelessness’ attributed the low home ownership level in Nigeria estimated at 25 percent to poverty and un-affordability of houses.
Nigeria has a large and growing population with rapid urbanisation which is growing at an estimated average of 3.75 percent of the population. About 50 percent of the country’s estimated population of 184 million lives in urban areas already and this is projected to hit 65 percent by 2050 when the population is also projected to hit 400 million.
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“The migration into the urban areas of Nigeria mainly Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano/Kaduna has already created a housing deficit for the country”, Amuta observed, quoting estimates from the National Bureau of Statistics, which says 108 million of Nigeria’s estimated 185 million population are homeless. “This puts the housing shortage at an estimated 18 million units; in order to close this gap in the next 10 years, public and private supply of new housing stocks will be, at least, 170,000 units per annum for another 10 years”, he disclosed.
Though houses are being built and supplied to the market year-in-year-out, Amuta lamented that commercial private real estate investment and development is concentrated in the luxury segment in urban areas where demand is driven by increased inflow of expatriates and the gradual growth of an indigenous middle class. “This elite driven real estate market cannot adequately drive and meet the housing needs of the nation”, he emphasised.
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He noted that the embarrassing housing deficit was worse in an area that only government intervention can make a difference, namely, public housing. “The provision of houses for federal and state public servants, local government employees, rural and semi urban dwellers does not make sense to private real estate investors. Only government can take the necessary risk”, he said and tasked the estate surveyors on engaging the government on the need for intervention.
“These challenges require that you engage more strategically with governments at federal and state levels to address the housing needs of the nation. This does not mean that residential housing alone is the imperative for your profession. But it is, to my mind, the immediate priority”, he told the professionals who call themselves land economists.
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Olurogba Orimalade, the new branch chairman, assured that with the current advancement in information technology and developmental strides in urban renewal and infrastructure in Lagos, the branch would quickly evolve to a more active stakeholder in the built environment.
“My vision has been translated into a working document which I have termed ‘Contract with NIESV’. This is a contract which I have entered with the NIESV Lagos State Branch. It should establish the right framework and structures for a functional and effective branch that would be able to meet the yearnings of our members, the Lagos State government and the public at large”, he assured further.