Expert Tasks FG, Developers On Affordable Housing

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A value-chain expert, Dr Joshua Egbagbe, has urged the federal government and estate developers to conduct an off-takers’ affordability analysis before embarking on any housing construction.
Egbagbe, who is also the chairman, Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd., gave the advice in an interview with the press in Abuja on Monday.
He said the advice became necessary to achieve affordable housing in Nigeria.
Egbagbe noted that housing deficit lingered in the country due to lack of off-takers affordability paradigm shift.
He added that the analysis would enable the housing developers to know the indices of both formal and informal workers in Nigeria in order to assess their wants and income.
“Through the off-takers affordability paradigm shift, which is the off-takers analysis, the government and developers will know the number and kind of houses to build and who needs intervention.
“With the analysis, no developer will build any house that will be wasted or unoccupied because he is building for a targeted affordability group.
“In the housing sector, the policies don’t seem to take the people who need the houses (off-takers) into considerations.
“Off-takers should be put at the very centre of housing policies, planning and decision-making processes.
“Right now in Nigeria, there is a big mismatch between the houses that are built and the individual affordability, otherwise called pocket capacity,’’ he said.
He, however, proposed a paradigm shift which he said would put the off-takers in the centre of planning and policy of housing.
The expert noted that some workers might not be able to afford 6 per cent mortgage interest of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) under the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme.
According to him, while FMBN fund is at 6 per cent, the cheapest in Nigeria, the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) is refinancing with about 16 per cent to 18 per cent interest rate.
He said that affordability was not only about interest rate but also with off-takers analysis which would ascertain who qualified for what and other factors.
Egbagbe stressed that analysis was very important to estate developers to avoid unoccupied houses syndrome.
“So, in trying to resolve the housing challenges, I discovered that there was a big mismatch between pricing and the off-takers capacity to pay.
“So, I got to see the roles that government plays in the housing value chain.
“I discovered that If we don’t look at housing from the perspective of value chain that means, every link that plays a role in providing a house to off-takers won’t work in this country.”
He said the government’s understanding of affordable housing was not yet people-driven, adding that the real problem was not only at the federal or state governments level but rather at the grassroots.
“There is a problem at the local government areas and wards. The grassroots people are not involved in development principles.
“Government in the state should also understand what kind of houses the civil servants can afford and the civil servants who actually need help or intervention”, he said.