Solving the Housing Deficit to Affect Nigeria’s Emerging Middle Class
By Temitope Emmanuel Olumoyin
One sector of the Nigerian economy that has experienced rapid growth despite facing several challenges is the real estate sector.
Even in the face of a recent economic downturn, the sector has been developing in leaps and bounds with several buildings springing up, most especially in new locations predicted to become a prime destination in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
Nigeria’s real estate sector is one of Africa’s greatest potentials while also representing the continent as a major competitive player in the global real estate market, thus appealing to investors as a destination for investment.
Despite the expansion, the growth being experienced is far from solving the over 22million housing deficit experienced in the country.
This comes in a time where the emerging middle class of the economy is seeking affordable housing in a clean and decent environment, which is far from the country’s present reality.
The stabilization of the market claimed by an investment analysis report published by Global Property Guide can be argued to be relative. This is because the growth experienced in the real estate market according to the report favours mostly the highbrow areas like Ikoyi that experienced a growth of 20% followed by a 12% growth in Ibeju Lekki while areas like Ajah, Gbagada, Surulere and Yaba were relatively steady in the prices of property.
Guess what, areas Ikorodu, Alimisho, Isolo experienced in a decline.
Reasons for these declines in lowbrow areas are simple, they are connected to issues are yet to be addressed by the government. Issues like poor infrastructure, bad roads, traffic and congestions, poor planning and development alongside other pertinent issues that have served as hindrances to such areas
Therefore, if Nigeria must solve its housing deficit issues, it must look at the issues holistically and develop concrete plans that will address basic needs that will promote equal growth in all its urban locations.
It is only normal for investors, to purchase property in areas where there is good road connectivity, proper urban planning and development, etc.
This is the reason the gap between the poor and the rich in Nigeria keep widening because even a child that is borne today can tell you areas that are meant for the rich.
Sadly, some areas that experienced a decline in house price used to be seen as highbrow areas back in the days.
However, the Nigeria system is such that when there is a new location that the government is paying attention to, the affluent and well to do immediately move out from where they reside to the new location.
Areas like Isolo Ikeja, Ogudu, Ilupeju used to be regarded as highbrow, sadly not anymore because the roads are now very bad that people now experience terrible traffic almost on a daily basis. There are now encroachment and shanties in those areas with people now hawking all over the place. This was not how it was before now.
As long as the government is not paying attention to these issues, they are not creating an enabling environment to have an emerging middle class like in most western economies.
The model should be such that when the affluent staying in those areas choose to move to a new location, the old locations should not be abandoned but maintained and adapted for the emerging middle class. And such areas should be well maintained even as the government is making sure the needed infrastructures are in place.
There is nothing wrong with the government focusing on Lekki, and its environs. But I can boldly tell you that every new project, plan and infrastructures are being cited in new locations like Lekki and its environs leaving other old locations to bare.
Governor Sanwo Olu recently signs $629m facility to complete Lekki Deep Seaport, which is very good, let us ask our self-important questions like:
On completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport what will be the fate of Apapa port?
What plans does the government have on improving the state of Apapa port, from road connectivity to decongestions and improving its infrastructure?
Why can’t the government evenly distribute the important project across the state and not just focus on one area?
What plans does the government have in making sure that the emerging middle class whether being a government or a private-sector worker have access to mortgage financing?
Why is the government not investing in building affordable housing themselves just like it is done in the western world?
Everyone is happy about the proposed increased budgetary allocation for housings and infrastructure. Have we asked if the government has any visible plans on ground to make sure the increased allocation affects the lives of low-income earners and the middle class?
These are so many other questions and important issues that need answers if the government wants to solve the housing deficit in the country. Right now all their government attention is on new locations and that cannot help the country.
*Temitope Emmanuel Olumoyin is an investment and a dynamic real estate broker with a remarkable and proven track record in the industry. With several years of experience in the industry, he is passionate about making land and housing affordable for all. He is the MD/CEO of Gramz Investment & Asset Limited – A wholly indigenous, reliable and fast-growing real estate and investment company in Nigeria. You can reach him on Facebook:https://web.facebook.com/ftemitopeemmanuel