Abuja will host the 15th Abuja International Housing Show next week. The biggest housing fiesta in the country is expected to bring together local and international stakeholders, policymakers, real estate developers, building technology companies, materials sellers and others to discuss and network. In this interview, the Coordinator of the event, Mr Festus Adebayo, gives an insight into the event and how it will provide solutions to issues in the housing sector.
What is the idea behind the Abuja International Housing Show?
The Abuja International Housing Show is meant to promote affordable housing in Nigeria. It is aimed at bringing together stakeholders from all over the world to network, interact, discuss and come up with ideas to develop the sector. This is what we have been doing for the last 14 years. This edition that we’re planning is the 15th of the show. It is a neutral ground where estate surveyors can interact with quantity surveyors without rivalry. The show is like the bridge that links all the stakeholders together; it is the platform where they meet every year to network and discuss for the whole week on one network, in one platform – not any platform of individuals, but a platform that will bring everybody together to interact.
- Four cultists nabbed during supremacy battle in Ogun
- Testing, isolation centres shut in states despite imminent COVID-19 third wave
We’re also going to discuss latest innovations around the world on housing. These are the ideas we’re going to look into to see what is operational in Nigeria, how do we make it operational; these are the issues.
Shelter Afrique (the Pan Africa housing finance organisation), will be in attendance. Delegates will be coming from the states in Nigeria. We have notable international speakers and we have not less than 352 exhibitors that have confirmed attendance.
What are the issues you will be discussing at this year’s edition?
This year’s show’s theme is: “Sustainable and Resilient Housing Solution for a Post-Pandemic World”. The problem of COVID-19 has made the whole world know the importance of housing. COVID-19 came with conditions like social distancing; it came with the conditions that you must wash your hands, and all these things have to do with housing. Putting a man, a wife and six children in a one-bedroom without any form of social distance is a problem; that is the reason why Bill Gates said that very soon you will see people dying in the streets of Africa because we don’t have a good housing system.
When they say wash your hands every five minutes, most of the people you’re telling to wash their hands don’t even have access to water; these are the issues that COVID-19 has exposed.
Now, as we meet at the Abuja International Housing Show, we chose that topic to discuss. What is the next agenda with housing following all the exposures that COVID-19 has caused? What are the interventions the government should do? What are the innovations that we need to bring in that will make us make housing accessible, especially to those that need it? These are some of the issues we will look at.
Few days ago, the Minister for Works and Housing said the figure of 17 million to 20 million housing deficit that has been quoted in the housing industry is not correct. Is this also going to be a major focus as you meet?
We have decided to bring the issue of data to the front burner of discussion. To this end, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), National Population Commission (NPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Federal Ministry of Finance and many more have all been contacted and invited for us to discuss how we can get data. We can’t make any meaningful decisions if we don’t have data to play with. With data, we can know the category of people that need one bedroom; with data we can know the category of people that need three bedrooms, with data we can know the kind of houses to be built in Karimu, Mararaba, etc. With data we can know the kind of houses that the country needs across towns and cities.
The minister said that there are a lot of unoccupied houses, the unoccupied houses the minister is talking about have to do with big men’s houses. They’re the same people that can afford those houses and are the same people still affording the houses. The people that can’t afford the houses need someone to provide for them, the ones we’re talking about whenever we talk about houses, go to Masaka, go to Mararaba, go to One-Man Village, go to Suleja, go to Zuba, then you will understand that in one room, five people sleep in. In fact, I want to take you back to Abuja: go to Mabushi, you will get to know how people are living there, then when you now go to Oshodi, Lagos, you will also see how people are living, and that is the reason why we need to do the data.
Why do you think Nigerians should attend the exhibition and what should they lookout for at the event?
The Abuja International Housing Show has assisted over 5,000 ordinary Nigerians to own homes. At the event, you will meet the ones that are building for the poor, the ones that are building for the rich and so on. At the show if you see the kind of house you need, you can also talk to the mortgage bank on financing your project. You will also see the latest proptech innovations in the sector. Participants will see building technology and building networks. This is why the ordinary Nigerian needs to go there.