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Buhari Should Prioritize Housing

The Abuja Housing Show, an annual gathering of housing stakeholders promoted by Housing Development Television, has congratulated Muhammadu Buhari on his inauguration as President of Nigeria and also urged him to prioritise housing as a major step to growing the economy.

The Show, which is in its 9th edition with this year’s edition already slated for this week starting from June 6, aligns with a strong global consensus that housing development is important for stimulating economic growth and job creation in any economy.

Housing alongside agriculture have been identified as growth areas in the Nigerian economy and interestingly, real estate, going by the recent GDP rebasing exercise, was discovered to be the sixth largest sector of the economy and the fastest growing.

“Indeed, housing construction is one of the most used indices for gauging the economic situation in most developed countries. As a matter of fact, housing construction indices, such as the Case-Schiller index, are some of the most common measures used by analysts to gauge economic trends in OECD countries and in the US” says Festus Adebayo, the CEO, FESADEB Communication Limited, owners of Housing Development Television.

Adebayo, in a statement obtained by BusinessDay in Lagos, lamented however, that most African countries do not see and treat the housing sector as engine of economic growth which is why housing sector contribution to GDP are lowest in these countries.

“Looking at the size of mortgage finance as a share of GDP of various countries, in the UK, mortgage finance to GDP ratio is about 80 percent and 77 percent in the US. For Hong Kong, this ratio is 50 percent, across Europe the average is about 50 percent, and for Malaysia it is 32 percent. For many African countries, the ratio is low at 2 percent for Botswana, 2 percent for Ghana, and only 0.5 percent for Nigeria. South Africa is the outlier with mortgage finance at 31 percent of GDP”, he posited.

Advising the Buhari administration to recognize housing as a major economic growth index, Adebayo recalled a speech by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance,  at a World Bank forum in which she listed three crucial roles that the housing sector could play in national development.

“According to her, the sector could serve as an important contributor to economic growth; support job creation and economic inclusion, and provide social benefit by contributing to community and nation building”, he disclosed.

Continuing, Adebayo quoted Okonjo-iweala as saying that “the housing sector can support job creation and economic inclusion. The job creation potential for the housing sector is enormous. In India, each new housing unit generates 1.5 direct and 8 indirect jobs. In South Africa, each housing unit creates 5.62 direct jobs and 2.5 indirect jobs”.

He noted that in South Africa, each housing unit creates 5.62 direct jobs and 2.5 indirect jobs, adding that the sector has the potential to generate employment opportunity, increase productivity, raise standards of living and alleviate poverty, thereby reducing the increasing level of crime rates, insurrection, militancy, terrorism among other sundry social challenges in the country.

Adebayo informed that hosting the 9th Abuja Housing Show was part of Housing Development TV’s own efforts  at growing the housing sector, hoping that the Show would bring together government functionaries at the federal, state and local levels, including federal ministry of housing and states ministries of lands and housing.

Others expected at the Show are major operators such as the new Nigerian Refinance Company (NMRC) Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN) and regulators such as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to set agenda for the new administration.

CHUKA UROKO

June 3, 2015

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