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HOUSING DELIVERY: SHONEKAN URGES POLICY REFOCUS

By NBF News
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By YINKA KOLAWOLE
The efforts by government to address the housing deficit in the country can only be effective with a shift in focus towards a predominantly private-sector driven national housing delivery strategy.

Former Head of State and Chairman of the Infra-structure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chief Ernest Shonekan, stated this in a keynote address at a national conference on Shelter and Urban Renewal to commemorate World Habitat Day recently in Abuja.

'Following the policy failures of the past, we must refocus our national housing policy delivery efforts to be dominantly private sector driven. In this mode, the government will create win-win alliances with private developers to develop affordable housing estates through PPPs and associated infrastructure,' he stated.

Shonekan called for an accelerated National Rural Housing and Infrastructure Development Programme to be initiated by the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, State Governments, Local Governments, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and other relevant government agencies to tackle rural housing deficit.

He noted that provision of mass housing is a veritable source of national economic development and urged the FCT authority and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to work with ICRC to develop public private partnerships for the urgent provision of affordable mass housing in FCT. 'The ICRC is willing and able to play a catalysing role in facilitating this mass housing thrust.

I truly believe that PPPs can play a role in transforming Nigeria's infrastructure and we must begin to look at the innovative ways of meeting the challenges we face in our national housing sector. We are also setting up a Viability Gap Fund (VGF) to provide additional upfront public funding for projects that require ongoing support from the federal budget especially if these projects like shelter provision have a high social rate of return,' he said.

In her remarks, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple, said government is in search of vibrant and worthy collaboration with the private sector in housing and urban development.

According to her, the provision of necessary infrastructure has become a daunting challenge in the provision of mass housing in the country, adding that this was so because of the high cost of infrastructure, which gulps 30 per cent of the cost of housing construction and estate development.