The project director of COPEN Group, Aworoke Ogbimi has posited that effective collaboration is key to delivering affordable housing in Nigeria. He made the assertion during the 16th edition Abuja International Housing show while speaking to newsmen.
Aworoke Ogbimi who was at the event with other team members of COPEN Group said the group was at the event to collaborate with other stakeholders in the housing sector.
He noted that the Abuja Housing Show has grown from local exhibition to expand and be broadened to the continent of Africa.
This he said has broadened the horizon and scope of stakeholders who go to the show to do business, showcase their products, discuss business policy, discuss financing options, and purchase household needs and housing products.
He said it is possible for developers to collaborate with government agencies to deliver affordable housing. Such area of collaboration he gave an example of the cost of obtaining land title for housing purposes. He revealed that it’s between 14 to 18% (in some cases from 18 to 25%) of the cost of the house. This he said is in the domain of the government.
He noted that with effective collaborative effort the government can drop that cost -the time it takes to perfect title of land differ from one state to another. And this he said impacts on the final cost of a housing unit.
He numerated other issues affecting affordable housing to include financing options, cost of building materials, etc.
In the area of financing he noted that the Federation Mortgage Finance Bank and other similar institutions have been on hand to provide finance options to willing housing owners. He explained that the finance options provided by these institutions are not too attractive, but he said it is because the operators must stay in business also.
On how affordable are the products of COPEN Group, he said the company has been in operation for the past 27 years. He pointed out that their thrust is to cater for the low and high and customers and all that go in between.
He gave instances of where COPEN Group has collaborated with state governments to provide affordable housing to the people.
One is Enugu State where COPEN Group is based. The group he said provided over hundred units of affordable houses for civil servants in the state and the state government was able to subsidize the entry point.
He said the company had a similar collaboration with Taraba State some time ago and the state government also subsidized and many civil servants in the state were able to get into the scheme.
Aworoke said what COPEN Group has done beyond collaboration with government was to leverage on building technique – more contemporary building technique- and several economies of scale to be able to bring down the final cost of impute factors down, so that the final outcome of the price of the housing unit will also come down.
On the issue of security in the land, he said it did not deter them from attending the event. He argued that if they did not attend, many collaborative efforts they had would not have come their way. He noted that such could lead to better houses, and better processes in executing their jobs.
He mentioned some of the problems that needed to be addressed for the sector to become better. One of them he said is that the level of information the public has about mortgage finance is still very low. He revealed that some of the schemes have been in place for a very long time and that people have been taking advantage of them. But, he said that the rate at which people take out mortgages is still very low.
On this he said there should be collaboration with the media.