Abuja Housing Show: Stakeholders proffer Housing solutions to post Covid:19 era

    By Chris Emetoh

    Stakeholders at the 15th Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) have called for sustainable and resilient housing solutions, as well as consistent real estate financing, to mitigate the effects of the Covid:19 pandemic, particularly on those without homes or affordable shelter.

    Former Minister of State for Power, Works, and Housing Surveyor, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, spoke at the event and expressed regret that the global lockdown policies imposed by governments in response to the Covid:19 pandemic had been a major blow to the housing and construction industry, particularly for those who have been left behind when it comes to housing as a fundamental human right.

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    The International Housing Show, according to Zarma, couldn’t have come at a better time than now, when the world is grappling with the pandemic’s scourge and its devastating consequences, which disproportionately affect those who can’t afford shelter. According to the former Minister, the lockdown, while necessary at the time, paralyzed economic activity in both the formal and informal sectors. “The consequences of such policies include a reduction in household incomes, government revenues, and attendant ability to meet statutory obligations, such as the provision of affordable housing, as well as a drastic impact on the health and well-being of internally displaced persons and those without shelter,” he explained.

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    Remember that the show was part of the International Housing and Construction Show, a major advocacy event aimed at raising awareness about the importance of affordable housing as a human need. The annual event provides an opportunity to assess the state of the housing and construction industry and chart a course forward.

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    Arc Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, who delivered a paper titled “Housing Finance, Post Covid:19, Lessons and Opportunities for the Emerging Market,” emphasized that life has changed dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019. “When vaccinations began in the first half of 2021, economies and health systems were showing signs of recovery, and efforts were made to open up the economies and re-start life under the new ‘normal.’”

    Dangiwa, on the other hand, expressed concern about a third wave of the pandemic, which is being driven by the virulent ‘Delta’ variant of the Covid:19 virus.

    Despite the fact that Nigeria was one of the luckiest countries not to be completely ravaged by the pandemic, it did not escape the pandemic’s devastating socioeconomic impact, as it experienced twin shocks in 2020, including a drop in revenue due to the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war, which caused the Nigerian economy to slip back into recession in mid-2020, following a slight recovery from the 2016 famine.

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    After a rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020, Dangiwa expressed optimism about Nigeria’s economic prospects in 2022.

    Apart from lockdowns and movement restrictions, he noted that governments around the world have implemented fiscal and monetary policies to address the pandemic’s economic consequences.

    In Nigeria, he said, the government and the Central Bank collaborated to develop policies aimed at mitigating the effects of the recession.

    “A recession is a terrible thing to waste; let us make the most of it because opportunities will always present themselves.”

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    Positing that, despite the pandemic’s circumstances, there is a constant need to look for opportunities, particularly from the emergence of the middle class, as is the case in every recession, particularly in terms of return on investment. He argued that the government and real estate investors should always be available to pursue the right properties, as land prices have risen, affecting funding costs.

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    During the event, Surveyor Ugochukwu Chime, Managing Director of Copen Group, who presented a paper titled “Pragmatic Strategies for Increasing Affordable Housing Stock Post Covid:19,” said that the model mortgage and foreclosure law was one of the major instruments that brought joy to many real estate investors because it solved a major problem in the housing sector. If the law is actually domesticated in all 36 states of Nigeria, he believes it will go a long way toward alleviating the industry’s cumbersome challenges.

    However, Basheer Oshodi, CEO of Trust Banc Arthur Ltd, expressed regret that there are not enough mortgages in the market and that there is a need to create investment funds with consistent returns on a very short term basis.

    “Plan mortgages must be established to address the country’s housing crisis, with off takers paying into a structure that generates income all of the time. He stated, “It will solve the housing market’s housing problems.”solve the housing problems in the housing market”, he pointed out.