By Ella Anokam/Uche Bibilari
Abuja – The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has charged African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) to put in place a mechanism that will promote appropriate housing construction finance schemes.
Fashola gave the charge on Wednesday in Abuja at the 2016 Annual Conference and General Meeting of the African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF).
The Minister was represented by Mrs Eucharia Alozie, Director Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the ministry.
The conference was organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC).
AUHF is an association of 56 Mortgage Banks, Building Societies, Microfinance Institutions, Housing Corporations and organisations involved in mobilising funds for shelter and housing in Africa.
Fashola, in his address, identified lack of access to construction finance by housing developers and high risk in current mortgage finance structure as major bottlenecks in the housing sector.
According to him, thse challenges do not support the buying-off of houses to enable developers recoup their investments on time.
“Lack of housing finance in the public and corporate institutions and double digit housing loans are the major challenges in the industry.”
He further identified land for housing, population explosion, high cost of building materials, inflation that brings about unemployment and decreased purchasing power of the low and medium income earners as other bottlenecks.
He, however, added that Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the NMRC were established to help in reducing the cost of mortgage loan by improving market efficiency.
He further added that from inception of government initiative in organised housing finance system to date, only a meagre sum had been injected to the system.
“This accounts for less than 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as compared to other climes like UK and South Africa among others’’.
This, he said, was due to the inability of financial systems in providing low cost finance that meets the need of low and medium income earners.
The minister stressed that the FMBN as the secondary mortgage institution, should be strengthened by ensuring full compliance with the National Housing Fund (NHF) Act by affected stakeholders.
He said that housing was believed to be a long- term investment and should be protected against high inflation and unpredictable economic down turn.
Fashola, while commending NMRC and other partners on advancing investment in affordable housing, said that the political will of the present administration in housing sector agenda had been further invigorated by the conference.
He further lauded stakeholders and African experts for coming together to proffer solutions to the age long challenge of providing housing finance for Africans, especially Nigerians who were facing harsh economic challenges.
He, however, said that housing was central to the present administration’s policy trust, adding that the conference was timely as Nigeria needed aggressive unleashing of new housing finance investments and opportunities.
Dr Oscar, Mgaya, AUHF Chairman, earlier said that the union was working hard to connect members to the progress of policy and opportunities for investment and growth in their own local context.
Mgaya said that the union was also focused on mobilising fund for shelter in Africa from 17 different countries across the continent.
According to him, the conference will be drafting an “Abuja Declaration’’, which will propose way forward in housing development in Africa.
The goals of AUHF are to promote and facilitate housing finance and unlocking its multiplier effects on national economies with a view to ensuring Africa’s economic growth.
The three-day conference which has its theme as “Housing Africa’s Growth Agenda’’ is sponsored by its media partner, Fesadeb Communications Ltd,. organisers of annual Abuja Housing Show and producer of housing programmes.