Built environment professionals have called for increased investment in locally sourced building materials to help bring down the cost of houses and also reduce the housing deficit in Nigeria. Some of them, who spoke when West African Ceramics Limited hosted key stakeholders across the various sectors of the built environment to a grand opening of its latest mega-showroom in Lekki, Lagos, said addressing the housing deficit through affordability would have a game-changing impact on the society. The President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Ugo Chime, said the need for decent, safe and sanitary housing accommodation at affordable prices had been a mirage to most Nigerians, especially the middle and low-income segments of the society.
According to him, this is because housing entails huge capital outlay, which is beyond some families after taking care of other needs like food, clothing, medicals, transportation, and others. He stated that the cost of building was a significant component of the housing as it constitutes approximately 56 percent, adding that any effort to reduce this cost would be a tonic to the availability and affordability of homeownership by Nigerians. “Given the generally low-income level among off-takers for housing products, we are therefore extremely keen on how the cost of houses can be brought to a minimal level, hence our interest in taking advantage of any opportunity, including the uptake of new and emerging technologies to reduce the cost of construction. It is on this premise that we find this effort of Royal Ceramics cardinal and imperative,” Chime said.
The President, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Mr. Adekunle Mokuolu, noted that every Nigerian had the right to decent shelter and improved wellbeing, adding that the housing deficit would continue to grow except deliberate and commensurate measures were taken to tackle it head-on. He stated that the first step was to tackle the high cost of building by either subsidizing the cost of building materials or crashing it. Mokuolu explained, “How better can this be done other than taking full advantage of the enormous local materials available through intensive research and understanding on how they could be used for developing decent low-cost housing. “Affordable housing can be achieved, but not much will be done if the status quo remains unchanged. We can right the decades of wrongs today if we are determined; the next best time to start is now. Let us turn to local products, both in human capital and natural resources.”
The National President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr. Kenneth Nduka, who presided over the opening of the showroom, said the establishment of the experience center was a positive development. The Executive Chairman, WACL, Alhaji Lawal Idirisu, stated that opening the experience center was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to supporting the economy. “We will continually raise our quality bar in benchmarking international standards, remain innovative, streamline processes, ensure competitive fair prices and expand the Royal Exclusive Showroom initiative, all in the bid to ensure that business is good for all,” he added.
The General Manager, WACL, Mr. Bhaskar Rao, said the Royal Experience Centre initiative was a response to support the government’s efforts at resuscitating local production through an effective distribution network to ensure that products were available at the right time, places and prices.