Nigeria’s affordable housing drive on go-slow
Nigeria has a housing deficit of 17 million units and the government has been working to cut the figure through direct provision and partnership with private developers and financiers, although in practice we are seeing a lack of real dynamism in the sector. Progress at the federal level will depend on land reform and political will. Meanwhile, Lagos State is seizing the initiative with a public-private programme of its own.
In 2017 Nigeria was recovering from a recession and the government looked to ramp up public investment to raise growth. The then-finance minister Kemi Adeosun said the federal government had established a Family Homes Fund (see below) by which the government would provide discounted mortgages for homeowners in partnership with private investors.
The facts clearly show the rationale for such initiatives:
About half the Nigerian population live in cities
Real estate is 6% of GDP
Nigeria has a population of 180 million
Annual population growth rate is 3%
However, key programmes have had mixed success.
The Family Homes Fund, a federal program, was set up in 2016 as a PPP to provide mortgage financing for 500,000 new units nationwide. This target was projected for completion in 2023. As of July 2019 more than 3,500 units were being developed, according to our correspondence with the Fund.
The Lagos State Housing Programme was announced by Lagos State government in 2018. The state said it had agreed a deal with Nigerian subsidiary of US private developer Echostone for the development of 2,000 affordable housing units in the state (other reports say 50,000 units). It appears to be linked to a broader deal with the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company to build 750,000 units across the country. It is not yet clear how much it will cost, but in 2018 the developer reportedly began constructing 250 units for the program in the Badagry area of the city.
The main federal policy appears to be the direct provision of housing, rather than PPP arrangements. In 2017 then housing minister Babatunde Fashola said government was already building units in 33 of 36 states by itself. Long-term private investments will require more certainty particularly for large-scale investments where property rights are concerned. At present, the Land Use Act vests all land ownership in state governors and housing contracts must go through them to be enforceable, raising risks such as expropriation and contract abrogation.