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Buhari, housing ministers to kick start Africa Habitat III dialogue

NIGERIA’S President Muhammadu Buhari will next week lead deliberations that will chart a sustainable path for Africa’s urban future, as Ministers for Housing and Urban Development on the continent gather in the Federal Capital Abuja, at the Africa Regional Preparatory Conference for the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

The Habitat III conference, scheduled to hold in Quito, Ecuador in October this year, will be next in the 20-year cycle of global summits convened to address the growing challenges arising from unprecedented urbanisation, notably in Africa and other developing regions of the world.

The Abuja Regional Preparatory Conference will be the second in the series of regional summits expected to harvest regional priorities that will ultimately form the new global urban agenda. The first in the series of regional summits, the Habitat III Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting, was held in October last year in Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia.

Today, half of the world’s population is living in cities, compared with less than five per cent a century ago, with projections indicating that by 2050 as many as 6.4 billion people, or 70 per cent of the world’s total population will be living in urban centres. With 95 per cent of this expansion expected to take place in developing countries – mostly in Asia and Africa – there has emerged a leadership imperative to address the challenges of rapid urbanization in a sustainable way.

While Africa is the least urbanized region today with an urban population of just under 40per cent, it is the fastest urbanizing with a 4.5 per cent rate. It is projected that in less than eight years, the urban population of Africa will be larger than the total population of Europe and larger than the urban population of Latin America and the Caribbean combined. UN between 2010 and 2050, the number of Africa’s urban dwellers will increase from 400 million to 1.26 billion – greater than the current total population of the continent and nearly a quarter of the world’s projected urban population.

The Abuja meeting, which will be hosted by the Minister for Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola, commences with no fewer than 15 Pre-events on Monday, February 22, which will followed by an Expert Group Meeting on Wednesday February 23 and culminate in the high-level Ministerial segment from February 24 to 26 at the International Conference Centre in the Federal Capital.

The meeting, besides deliberating on the best ways to consolidate Africa’s Position on Habitat III, will also present an opportunity to articulate the continent’s common position on the 2030 Development Agenda and the Africa Agenda 2063 Vision.

Other dignitaries expected at the summit include the UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos; Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin; Executive Secretary of the United Nations Econommic Commission for Africa, Dr Carlos Lopez; President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and, the Commissioner for Political Affairs at the Africa Union Commission, Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi.

Originally published in The Guardian

Discussing Teamwork with Uzo Oshogwe, MD/CEO, Afriland Properties Plc.

What is Teamwork?

Beyond functioning successfully as an individual, people have to work together to reach certain heights. A team is a group or number of persons aiming for a common goal. So, teamwork is when they work together. It’s a coordinated and cooperative efforts of a group in the interest of a common cause.


What is the role of teamwork in achieving organizational success?

An organization is only as strong and successful as its combined parts. Teamwork is absolutely fundamental for teams to work effectively and teams have to work effectively for an organization to excel.

What makes a good team?

A good team is made up of willing and focused individuals who realize and identify with the fact that no Man is an island. And that smart work is as important as hard work. A good team must be focused and agree. Though disagreements and criticisms are unavoidable sometimes, the must be constructive and be for the greater good of the organization.

Also, good morale, communication, trust, commitment and willingness of all team members to see themselves not as competitors but as team players are also qualities of a good team.

What is the relationship between leadership and teams?

Good leadership is vital for teamwork and achievements. A good leader recognizes the importance of a supportive team, as well as its individuals; motivates all stakeholders, including customers and other organizational players, as well as management, directors or owners; sets smart, realistic, well-defined and well-planned goals; creates an environment of mutual respect and trust; and engages and motivates all team members.

How would you define team building?

This are basically activities that aim at improving interpersonal relations and social interactions within a group or an organization.

This improves communication and strengthens relationships. It’s one of the most effective ways to unite a group, maximize strengths and work on weaknesses. Get together, games and logic puzzle etc. are some team building activities.

Can a team work together and still fail?

Though this is rare, it is very possible. So many factors have to be put into consideration for projects to succeed. Some of the factors responsible for failure include lack of defined goals, fear of failure, poor time management and poor role clarity.

When this happens, what’s the next step to take?

First, no blame game. This doesn’t mean individuals involved should not own up and take responsibility. The situation has to be reassessed and readdressed.

You have to investigate and carefully note the possible reasons for the failure. When this is done, steps to correct or avoid a reoccurrence include trainings and seminars.

How can we identify team players?

Team players are always willing to work with others, they take responsibility and are also eager to help other individuals out on particular tasks. They are also ready to disseminate information and share knowledge.

Stakeholders urge SON to monitor steel bar production

IN line with the passion for safe building industry, stakeholders have urged the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other regulatory bodies to ensure that production of reinforcement bars and steel in Nigeria complies with prescribed standard.

Their call came on the heels of depreciation of naira, which they observed have not impacted negatively on the prices of concrete reinforcement steel.

The stakeholders in the construction industry, among them builders, building material merchants and others, pointed out that two popular grades of locally manufactured high tensile reinforcement steel bars (steel rebar) in the Nigerian building materials’ market, have been attracted stable price, despite the downward in the Nigeria’s currency, vis-à-vis foreign currencies.

According to them, price of the high grade H.T. steel rebar has remained N140,000 per tonne for the past four years while that of the low grade H.T. steel rebar has been hovering around N100,000 per tonne for the same period. However, exchange rate of Naira to 1 US Dollar was around N156 in 2012 while it is fluctuating around N300 to 1 USD today, which informed the concern of the stakeholders.

Speaking on the issue during the visit to some areas in Lagos Island where some buildings were being inspected last week, Mr. Taiwo Chukwu, an engineer, who is also the Coordinator, BCPG Yaba Cell, said the situation requires vigilance by the building regulators.

Chukwu, said that imported billet or locally recycled scraps are the raw materials being melted to manufacture the reinforcement steel bars used for construction in Nigeria, but because almost 26 rolling mills in the country are not functioning as expected.

“If the cost of production has remained static in the 26 functioning out of the 36 steel rolling mills in Nigeria, there would be no cause for alarm. But if the cost of production has increased during this period, then it is interpreted that the steel manufacturing companies either have very wide, flexible profit margin or the steel quality has been compromised”, he argued.

Life Patron, Nigerian Association of Artisan, Epe Local Government Division, who is also Managing Director Segson Nigeria Ltd., a building materials dealer, Mr. Segun Ogunade, said in order to determine the quality of reinforcement available in the country, both chemical and mechanical tests would be required to ascertain the quality of the steel rebar.

He said carbon, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, copper, silicon, aluminum and nitrogen contents at percentages that meet the specifications of the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) would make the rebar acceptable for construction work. However, such steel rebar when subjected to tensile test must meet the specified yield strength and percentage elongation after fracture”, he advised.

In his comment, National Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), who is also President, BCPG, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, wants the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure consistent compliance to standards through quality control or monitoring mechanism.

Originally published in The Guardian

Insecurity: Residents task Ambode on abandoned property in VI, Ikoyi

Against the background of security threats posed by over 100 abandoned properties that litter in Victoria Island and Ikoyi areas of Lagos, residents of the two communities under the aegis of Victoria Island, Ikoyi Security and Environment Trust (VIISET), have called on the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to come to their aid by addressing the challenge as a matter of urgency.

VIISET is a brainchild of Victoria Island and Ikoyi Residents’ Association (VIIRA), an advocacy group which has over the years engaged past administrations in the state over the issue of abandoned properties within the two highbrow neighbourhoods.

The Chairperson, Board of Trustees (BOT) of VIISET, Mrs. Francesca Emmanuel, who spoke to journalists during the launch of membership drive for VIISET and VIIRA in Lagos last week, decried that miscreants take advantage of these abandoned buildings which are in their hundreds, by hiding in them thereby constituting security threats to residents, business owners and workers who eke a living in the communities.

Mrs. Emmanuel, former Federal Permanent Secretary said the association has lately got in touch with the Police authorities by sending them a list of the confirmed abandoned properties within the communities, adding that this is a precautionary measure to nipping the activities of miscreants who may be converging in these abandoned properties to carry out their attacks on the neighbourhoods.

Stating however, that VIISET was created in 2007 as an intervention of the executive arm of VIIRA, Mrs. Emmanuel disclosed that the association takes premium on the security of lives and property in the communities, as well as improvement of infrastructure in the communities.

According to her, VIISET initiated the first corporate and individual support for the provision of equipment to security agencies in the communities, especially the Nigerian Police Force in 2002, adding that this initiative led the way to the creation of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund.

To continue to improve the security situation as well as the public infrastructure in Victoria Island and Ikoyi communities, the former Permanent Secretary said: “Our objective now is to solicit the support of the media for our programme to increase the individual and corporate membership of VIISET and VIIRA. Our prospective members are all who are resident or do businesses in these two districts.

Community activities

“What is special about this effort is the collaboration of the Lagos State chapter of the National Youth Service Corps, which has sent a team of youth corps members to participate in a moderated data gathering of eligible and prospective individuals and corporate bodies under their Community Development Service (CDS) programme.

“It is our hope that through this joint venture, this programme will stand as a model for other Residents Associations, and further introduce our youths to a desired involvement in the community activities,’’ Mrs. Emmanuel noted.

Also, the Executive Secretary, VIISET, Alhaji Abdul Latif Muse, pointed that the issue of abandoned properties in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi communities calls for collaboration, adding that ‘’owing to the fact that we are at the receiving end of the consequence of this menace, we have over the years involved the state government through the Ministry of Physical Planning, the Local Government Authorities, as well as the Police.

“The list of abandoned properties that we have generated are about 100, and we have submitted the list to the state authorities. Since this issue remains a concern to us, we will continue to bring it up at every forum, as an advocacy group, until we have a conclusive resolution by relevant government authorities,” he said.

On his part, Mr. Mohammed Salami, member of VIIRA/VIISET and erstwhile Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Management Board, urged the state government to ensure it lights up streets in Victoria Island and Ikoyi in order to tackle the insecurity situation in the area.

Salami said the state government should maintain the street lights in the communities, noting that certain streets which once had street lights have had their lights gone bad over the years, with no response from the authorities.

He said the mounting of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras was a noble idea in the communities, pointing out however, that they are irrelevant with the attendant epileptic power supply in the country.

Originally published in The Vanguard

Mortgage banks get nod to collect, disburse housing fund

WITH the unexpected downturn in the financial market creating vast scale of funding gap in housing market, mortgage operatives have secured the approval of the apex mortgage institution to deepen the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme and ensure it fulfills the needs of prospective homeowners.

The Guardian gathered that Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) had succumbed to pressure from officials of the umbrella body of primary mortgage banks (PMBs) – Mortgage Banking Association (MBAN) to allow its members to be involved in the NHF scheme operations.

For several years, MBAN had made representations to FMBN, where it argued that the paucity of funds dogging the sector could be eliminated, if the NHF is harnessed and PMBs are the engine room for the monthly collection process, transaction cycle time could be shortened.

Then, FMBN was wary of allowing its fund to be kept with PMBs to prevent loss of funds with operators and was ascertaining their risk profile as the industry was undergoing recapitalisation, pointed out that some of them might not meet the minimum regulatory capital of N2.5 billion and N5 billion. It subsequently approved list of 25 PMBs that would cross the consolidation hurdle of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Now, about 35 mortgage banks would benefit from the exercise.

Essentially, under the new development, mortgage banks would commence collection of monthly contributions and monthly loan repayment from the NHF contributors on behalf of FMBN. The apex mortgage would also establish direct debit systems/ accounts with mortgage banks to drive the new initiative. The Guardian gathered that FMBN is to commence placements of the deposits with PMBs as soon as the proposed systems are completed.

The NHF scheme entitles all Nigerians above the age of 21 years in paid employment to a low interest in government funded loan. Members of the scheme contribute 2.5 per cent of their monthly salary to the fund through the FMBN and maximum amount obtainable under the scheme has been pegged at N15 million. The borrowed capital is repayable over a maximum of 30 years at thwarts of six per cent interest.

Recently, the Board of FMBN expanded mortgage loan originators which on-lend NHF loan to include universal banks, insurance firms, pension funds and microfinance banks subject to their meeting the criteria and requirements laid down for Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs) and the provisions of their enabling laws and regulatory authorities.

The board also increased down payment or equity contribution of property value by NHF applicants in the following proportion: N5 million loan and below, 10 per cent equity contribution; loan between N5 million and N10 million, 20 per cent; while loan between N10 million and N15 million attracts 30 per cent equity contribution.

However, statistics show that 3.77 million workers nationwide have so far contributed N106 billion to the fund as at March 2013. Out of the amount, N101 billion has been disbursed to beneficiaries to enable them build, buy or renovate their houses. The amount was contributed by 28 states while eight of the states are not still contributing to the fund.

Amongst the decision reach by apex mortgage bank and MBAN was that mortgage banks that have received clearance from CBN and FMBN would be allowed to issue bank guarantees to FMBN under the real estate development window of FMBN to create level playing field with commercial banks.

MBAN had proposed issuance of bank guarantees by PMBs with N5 billion/ N2. 5 billion shareholders’ fund to be accepted for both NHF and estate development loans.

When both parties met in Abuja, MBAN president, Dr. Femi Johnson told officials of FMBN that though there had been marked improvements in the disbursement of the approved NHF loans, there would be need to work towards the transaction cycle of 180 days, which would be of immense benefits to all stakeholders and to improve the opinion of the public on the scheme.

He urged FMBN to fast track the automation of the NHF process. “ There is the dire need to conclude automation process of the NHF scheme, very quickly. The need to re-visit the issue of increasing the monthly contributions to 2.5 per cent of the total salary of contributors, as against the current 2.5 per cent of the basic salary, in order to enhance the volume of the fund,” he said.

Originally published in The Guardian

Surveyors set agenda for industry

The tone of activities in the construction and built environment in the year may have been set quite early as stakeholders and practitioners at the close of last year, put forth suggestions on how to reshape in the industry.

The Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveying (NIQS), at its 26th Biennial Conference in Lagos, called for efforts by professionals in various fields to reshape the quality of policies. In specific terms, the NIQS charged professionals, especially those in the built environment, to get actively involved in politics and decision- making in the country.

Under the theme, “Politics, policies and national development – The role of professionals,” the immediate past president of the institute, Mallam Murtala Aliyu, said the choice of the theme was informed by the way professionals disregard the consequences of ignoring politics, leaving the fundamental aspects of their survival in the hands of persons with little or no capacity to handle such sensitive enterprise.

The conference afforded built environment professionals, both at home and the international community, the opportunities to discuss issues relating to politics generally, policy formulation and implementation that could enhance national development. There were technical and panel discussion sessions on policy making and economy, accountable politics, effects of regulations on politics of service, the role of professionals, professional bodies and experiences in the construction industry in other countries, such as South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

According to Aliyu, professionals should be mobilised to take their deserved position in redefining the direction of the development of the country.

“The economic challenges facing the country, especially the fall in the price of oil further put pressure on the dwindling income of the country demanding the attention of all expertise in managing the nation’s resources,” he said.

A former president of the institute, Mr. John Alufohai, noted that professionals could bring about national development when they engage in politics.

At the end of the event, it was also recommended that Professional Bodies should establish a functional research arm in form of think tank and the outcome of the research made public; to ensure accountability, a central body of professionals should be set up that will monitor and make those in government accountable. The central body is expected to develop frameworks that will make government more accountable to the populace; there should also be the establishment of cost data bank with adequate dissemination of information to all stakeholders.

Furthermore, the body recommended the adoption of international construction measurement standards , stating that this would enhance the activities of the industry since Nigeria is said to be next to China in construction activities; that professional bodies should use their expertise to make policies that are feasible.

In terms of investment, the NIQS recommended that good governance should entail investment locally, while investing abroad should only be in terms of surplus. To this end, it urged government to not only attract foreign direct investment, but should also retain it.

The conference was attended by a large number of professionals from the Nigerian Built Environment and delegates from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, including Nigerian students. Others include Senator Ahmad Abubarkar (Adamawa South Senatorial Zone and Honourable Biodun Olasupo Adeola (Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Compliance); the past and presidents of the Association of Africa Quantity Surveyors (AAQS), Mr. Michael Frimpong and Prof Rob Pearl and President of Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy, Mr. Segun Ajanlekoko.

Originally published in The Nation

Afriland Properties Plc lists shares on NASD

Interested Investors now have opportunity to buy into the ordinary shares of Africa’s real estate company, Afriland Properties Plc, with the listing of the company on the NASD OTC Plc.

The NASD is an over-the-counter (OTC) platform that trades on unlisted securities. It is licensed by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The NASD OTC was formally launched on July 1 and opened for trading on July 2, 2013.

For 2014 financial year, Afriland Properties Plc. announced a profit before tax of N1.74 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014, representing a 311% increase compared to the corresponding period of 2013. This was declared at the 2nd Annual General Meeting.

During the meeting which took place at the Banquet Hall of Lagoon Restaurant, the Board of Directors and the Management also declared a total dividend payment of N499.6M translating to 40 kobo per ordinary share.

Afriland Properties Plc. is a property development and management Company, offering end-to-end services along the real estate value chain, from management to joint-venture investments.

With a portfolio size of over N8 billion and one of the largest land banks in Nigeria, Afriland Properties is pioneering the opportunities presented by an institutional approach to real estate, serving niche markets throughout Africa.

NIQS wants FG to establish cost data bank, appropriate standards

The institute says that poor enforcement of laws in Nigeria has caused the entire populace to be shortchanged. Good governance is consensus oriented, accountable, participatory, transparent, responsive, equitable and inclusive, it follows the rule of law; it should be effective and efficient.

MEMBERS of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) have advocated for the establishment of cost data bank with adequate dissemination of information to all stakeholders.

They are also making case for appropriate standards in the Nigerian built environment. According to the surveyors, international construction measurement standards are needed in Nigeria to grow the economy and enhance the activities of the industry, since Nigeria is said to be next to China in construction activities.

In a communiqué issued after its Biennial Conference held in Lagos Oriental Hotel, last week, on the theme: “Politics, Policies and National Development – The Role of Professionals”, NIQS observed that contracts are treated as sacred in most countries but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

The document signed by Secretary, Professional Development, Dr. Ejike Anunike, and ​​Secretary, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, ​Mr. Olujide Oke, noted that the nation’s culture is responsible for the underdevelopment being experience in Nigeria because most of the leaders do not see themselves as servants to the people they governed.

According to them, “good governance is consensus oriented, accountable, participatory, transparent, responsive, equitable and inclusive, it follows the rule of law; it should be effective and efficient.”

Besides, it was observed that the relationship between transparency and investment in direct, that is, the more transparent a country is, the more inward investment she receives and that there cannot be foreign investment if there is no respect for rules of engagement.

NIQS urged professional bodies to establish functional research arm in form of think tank and the outcome of the research made public; and professionals’ aspiration should be driven by the realization that as human beings, societal imperatives should be considered before those of professional interest.

They stated that poor enforcement of laws in Nigeria has caused the entire populace to be shortchanged, and to ensure accountability, a central body of professionals should be set up that will monitor and make those in government accountable, while the central body is expected to develop frameworks that will make government more accountable to the populace.

The institute also appealed to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to engage the services of quantity surveyors because they have the expertise in contract documentation, procurement and administration.

Originally published in the Guardian

AFRILAND PROPERTIES PLC JOINS CS – DON RUN FOR A CURE 2015

Afriland Properties PLC recently teamed up with ‘The Child Survival and Development Organization of Nigeria (CS-DON), for this year’s Run for a Cure Charity Run.

As part of the global fight against breast, cervical and childhood cancer, the run took place on Saturday, November 7, 2015, from Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, to Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos.

See pictures below.

Run for a cure (28)

Run for a cure (30)

Run for a cure (25)

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Run for a cure (27)

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The Africa GRI Club Magazine: The Big Interview with Uzo Oshogwe

MD/CEO, Afriland Properties PLC, Uzo Oshogwe, recently granted Africa Club Magazine an exclusive interview. In this interview, she discussed the challenges that face Nigeria’s property market, drivers, growth and even opportunities in the midst of the economic downturn.

Q. How is the Nigerian Real Estate sector affected by the current economic downturn? Are people optimistic or is it doom and gloom?

Though it may be in crisis, Nigerian economy is not severely damaged. Real Estate professionals and even investors are optimistic. In the midst of the downturn, numbers are still shooting up and the future is promising. The industry still boasts of 10% annual growth, a market value of N6.5 trillion in 2015 and an anticipated $13.6 billion investment in 2016.

In any economic downturn, there is an opportunity. The opportunity here lies in the ability to revolutionize and persevere.

Click below to read the full interview on pages 3 and 4.
http://goo.gl/07RD7v

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