By Emmanuel Oloniruha
By most accounts, successive governments in Nigeria set the construction of affordable houses for the citizens in their priority lists.
This notwithstanding, stakeholders in the housing sector, observe that deficit in housing provision has been on the rise in spite of the efforts of past administrations.
Quoting a World Bank report, they note that more than N59.5 trillion will be required to address the estimated 17 million units of housing deficit in the country.
In the light of this , the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) recently organised a summit in Abuja on:“Achieving Affordable Housing in Nigeria.’’
The conference was attended by more than 300 participants who are researchers, members of professional regulatory bodies and associations, the academia and non-governmental organisations, among others.
Then Supervising Minister of Science and Technology Omobola Johnson, who spoke at the conference argued that housing formed a substantial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most developed countries, and should be given priority in the country.
Mrs Akon Ayakenyi, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, corroborated the stakeholders’ observation, insisting that millions of citizens live in slums.
Represented by Dr Ezekiel Oyemomi, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ayakenyi said the provision of safe and affordable houses “is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in the United Nations Habitat Agenda.’’
According to her, the Federal Government has initiated a blueprint to reduce the housing deficit by engaging in partnerships with private sector in the provision of housing for all categories of Nigerians.
She said providing affordable houses with this method would increase house ownership to about 50 per cent and improve Nigeria’s Human Development Index.
“It will significantly reduce poverty in households, increase productivity and quality of lives of the citizenry.
“It will also enable the housing sector to contribute more than 20 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP as projected in the Vision 20:2020,’’ she said.
She challenged NBRRI and other stakeholders to inaugurate indigenous building technology and evolve workable strategies that will guarantee the availability and affordability of houses in the country.
“The challenge before us today is to use research and development to move our country’s economy from consumer-driven to a production-driven economy.
“The success of Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government depends on the implementation of innovation in technological skills and knowledge,’’ Ayakenyi said.
She, nonetheless, advised that in addressing housing deficit and making houses affordable to more people, there must be continuous innovation in housing sector.
In his view, Prof. Danladi Matawal, Director-General of NBRRI, said there were global trends in the evolution of materials for building construction.
He said one of the initiatives to boost indigenous building technology was the establishment of a pilot plant for the production of pozzolana; a partial substitute for cement in Ogun, which is in advance stage.
Matawal identified NBRRI’s bricks produced from manual and electro-hydraulic machines and interlocking blocks from manual and semi-automatic machines as some of the products of the institute’s technology.
“These NBRRI technologies have passed the stage of test because they have been applied in projects, especially in some extremely large multi-million naira pilot technology promotion schemes.
“These multi-million naira pilot technology promotion schemes are located in Lagos State, Abuja, Ogun, Benue, Anambra, Kebbi, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Ondo State, Kano State, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto State and Yobe.
“With pozzolana being developed, paving stones and roofing tiles by the institute, the country has enough building materials produced locally by NBRRI,’’ he said.
He noted that promoting these technologies to a stage of national economic impact would require the support of local entrepreneurship to fabricate customised version of NBRRI’s machines.
“This way, commercialisation of the technologies will lead to job creation, wealth generation, import substitution and conservation of foreign reserves,’’ he said.
According to him, what is required to achieve this is commitment by the government and willingness by the people to embrace available indigenous technologies, including NBRRI’s innovations.
Irrespective of Matawal explanations, observers note that there is a perceptible reluctance by professionals and developers to use proven local alternative building technologies.
They note further that the habit has significantly contributed to high cost of foreign building materials that has remained a major challenge to the provision of affordable houses.
At the end of the summit, the participants urged the government and Nigerians to develop the strong will to use indigenous building technologies, including the NBRRI innovations to tackle housing deficit.
They called for sustained synergy between NBRRI and professional bodies in the housing sector to work out a modality for the use of alternative indigenous building materials.
They resolved that government should evolve and support policies that will encourage the use of NBRRI pozzolana cement to make building easier and cheaper.
The participants also urged the government to adequately fund NBRRI and other research institutes to facilitate research in critical areas of housing sector that would facilitate affordable houses in the country. (NANFeatures)[eap_ad_3]
By Emmanuel Oloniruha