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Government Should Approach Housing As Investment, Critical Component Of Economic Development – Gen. Reis

The Executive Chairman of First World Communities, General Tunde Reis (rtd) has admonished government at all levels to approach the issues of housing as investment and component of economic development rather than just ‘expenditure’.

Gen. Reis stated this while he was speaking during a Zoom webinar organized by the Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) to commemorate the World Habitat Day and the nation’s independence at 62 on Monday 3rd October 3, 2022.

The webinar anchored by the HDAN Executive Director, Festus Adebayo with the theme “Housing Sector Watch: How has Housing Industry Fared @62” had leading experts in the built environment from within and outside the country such as Mustapha Njie, the GMD TAF Global, Hakeem Ogunniran, CEO of Exima Realty Company Ltd, Femi Adewole, MD/CEO Family Homes Fund Ltd, Prof. Timothy Nubi, Director, Research and Innovation Office, University of Lagos and Esv Olufemi Oyedele, MD/CEO of Fame Oyster and Co as contributors.

General Reis in his contribution said that housing delivery means different things to different professions noting that “To the housing finance person, they see return on investment, to the built environment professionals, they see bricks and mortar, to the policy maker (government), some of them see it as expenditure, a form of welfare expenditure.”

However, the retired general noted that it is important that this changes and that government begin to approach housing delivery as investment and a component of economic development due to the attendant benefits and multiplier effect the sector can have on the economy as a whole adding that it is “the only way we can see meaning impact of government in the sector”.

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Mr Reis also highlighted some challenges bedeviling the issue of housing delivery in the country of which he said the availability of data plays a huge role.

Decrying how the lack of data is affecting the sector, he said “What exactly is the data? What exactly is the housing deficit? Where is the deficit? Who are the people? Who should be our target households? Who should we be building for? What kind of homes do they need? And how can they access these homes because to wish is one thing, to be able to create effective demand is another.”

He also said that both public and private sector must carry out what he described as end-users segmentation that will identify targeted housing consumers because the traditional method of just building houses, expecting people to buy and occupy them is no longer working but creating many unoccupied houses and estates in major cities like Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

General Reis also spoke on the need to address the housing affordability gap, bridging the difference between what the market demands and what consumers can pay. This he said can be achieved through policies and subsidies.

Highlighting the need for regulation of the Nigeria housing sector, he said, “No decent investor, whether impact investor or investor for returns is interested in putting money or resources in an unregulated environment, so we need to consider enabling regulations and policies.

“Right now, our housing industry is largely unregulated; it’s an all commerce affair, only ‘cowboys’ play in this kind of environment. Decent investors will stand back from it. Serious money will not be put in an environment that is unregulated and that also has policies that nobody can bank on.

“So we need sustainable policies, we need a regulated environment.”

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