Cutting-edge technology in all fields of human endeavour is providing solutions to man’s problems the world over. In real estate and the construction sector too, technological advancements are enabling experts to solve one of man’s oldest problems, having decent shelter.
Nigeria has about 28 million housing deficit as at January 2023, and experts say technology can be leveraged to address the intractable housing problem.
Groundbreaking technology has seen the emergence of the innovative 100-home community of 3D-printed homes built by Lennar and ICON and co-designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, which nestles in the Texas Hill Country, United States, and features eight floorplans, 24 elevations, and will be powered by the sun with rooftop solar panels.
It caught the attention of the international media and there has been much rave about it in the built environment, even in Nigeria, with experts saying there is a need to domesticate some of the emerging technologies to solve the country’s housing problem and boost the economy.
ICON, a leading real estate firm, champions inherently strong, resilient and more energy-efficient homes built using advanced materials, engineering and robotics.
The firm’s website said, “In structural tests, ICON’s wall system exceeded strength requirements by more than 350%. Our homes are designed to withstand extreme weather and resist water, mould, termites and fire.
“Advanced materials and airtight building envelopes reduce temperature fluctuations creating incredibly comfortable living spaces.
“Elevated architecture by world-renowned firms highlights the resilient and sustainable benefits of design with the digital possibilities of additive construction.”
Mr, Lawrence Utsaha, an architect, who spoke with Daily Trust in an interview, said Nigeria needs to take a revolutionary approach to solving the housing problem in the country.
He said adopting technology in the built environment is the sure way of bridging the housing deficit but warned that “Housing is a sensitive matter that has emotional and cultural roots. Technology, on the other hand, needs to be sustainable, and needs to connect to culture or the way of doing things. So, the housing technological solutions must have respect for, or accommodate the way of living of the people and take into cognizance environmental issues.
“The technology must take its supplies from close proximity – with lesser dependency on importation if it will significantly bridge the shortfall.”
He applauded the ICON 3D Technology deployed in constructing the Texas Hill Country homes, saying there were lessons Nigerian professionals in the sector could learn from.
He said, “One major lesson is the timely delivery of projects using the technology, which has a consequential impact on the final cost of project delivery. Again, it also showcases the need for mass production of components and the need to cut down on time spent on sites.”
Ultimately, Utsaha said the mortgage system needs to embrace technology to enhance its operations in a manner that puts it in a position to support the sector robustly.
He added that, “There should be ease of land acquisition for housing, further research works, and domestication of information on newer building components, materials, and products; and firmer regulation of practitioners in the industry are, overall, provide the pathway to surmounting the housing challenge in Nigeria.”
Also, a housing advocate, Barr. Festus Adebayo, said it is expedient for professionals in the industry to partner with the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to provide affordable housing which will in turn stimulate the nation’s almost comatose economy.
Adebayo, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Africa International Housing Show (AIHS), spoke with newsmen in Abuja.
He said the 17th edition of the show holding “on Monday, 24th of July to Thursday, 27th July, will offer private sector professionals and the government the platform to find lasting solutions to the housing problem.
He said the largest housing and construction expo will attract important personalities from across Africa and the world, and it will be the right avenue to discuss emerging technologies in the sector and how they can be deployed to solve the housing problem.
He said, “Immediately after the opening ceremony, there shall be an all-important CEOs’ forum, which is a convergence of elite chief executives from Nigeria and across the world, to devise the most effective solutions to the challenges in the housing and construction industry.
“It will be an avenue for CEOs to network and share the latest trends in the housing, mortgage, construction, and real estate industry at large.”
Adebayo further said solutions to funding which has been one of the major challenges of housing development in the country would be sought at the show.
He said the second day of the event will feature an international-finance session, which will focus on how the International Finance Corporation (IFC) can assist real estate developers in the area of affordable housing.
He added, “The session will focus on various opportunities that are available at IFC to address the housing deficit in Nigeria at a very affordable price. Also, the session will look into the issue of Edge building or what we call Green Housing.”
However, Adebayo, stressed that the 17th edition of AIHS will be used to showcase international success stories, depicting what has worked elsewhere and how Nigeria can replicate the same.
He said, “We are going to use AIHS 2023 to speak clearly on success stories, so people can gain, learn new lessons, and get new ways things can be done.
“If people share their experiences, it helps others know the better way to do things, and also if they share their challenges, it helps others know what not to do. It will also give us an opportunity to profile our own local success stories.”
Adebayo also added that AIHS 2023 will engage political appointees and the newly inaugurated policymakers on the housing agenda and how to forge partnerships that will result in monumental developments in the sector.
Speaking further on how the show will provide the springboard for creating solutions, he said, “Another innovation will be the introduction of the “U-40 professionals meet up”, tagged ‘New Generation of Affordable Housing Leaders’.
“This year’s AIHS will focus on the new generation of real estate professionals across the board who will take over the housing industry.
“This year’s AIHS is where you ought to be if really you want to own a home, looking for how to succeed in that real estate business, or looking for an opportunity in housing finance, sales, and avenue to promote your brand.”