At a time when macroeconomic and political forces are aggravating the challenges of affordable housing in Nigeria, experts are seeing technologies, including formwork construction as means to reduce costs and expand housing access.
They believe that government and private sector partnership in housing construction could sway the interest of the medium and low-income earners in homeownership.
Alpha Mead Group Chairman, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu who made the submission at the opening of Lekki Pearl Estate built by Alpha Mead Development Company (AMDC) in Lagos, said that adoption of formwork technology and mortgage financing would revolutionise the housing market.
Sunmonu stressed that partnership with mortgage firms will make housing affordable and accessible to Nigerians. “We want to influence the banks to make mortgage cheap enough for the ordinary Nigerians to be able to obtain mortgage. We want to play a very strong advocacy role, making sure it’s more affordable.”
He said the government needs to help in the development of the housing markets by providing the enabling environment. “Government doesn’t need to get involved in building, but in the provision of infrastructure. The amount of time and money used by private investors to create infrastructure are enormous, which are passed on to the subscribers. If government takes part in this, it will actually open the housing markets.”
According to the Chairman, AMDC, Dada Thomas, an engineer, the vision is to close the 20 million housing deficit in the country. “It is difficult to achieve quality affordable housing in Nigeria without technology,” he said.
He said the society must have rule of law, and need technology to achieve development. Thomas said: “The government must invest in education and a country that does not invest in people, the future is bleak because they cannot create value. Education will translate to technology.”
The Group Managing Director, Alpha Mead, Femi Akintunde, an engineer, said that using formwork is best for the construction industry and its benefits outweighs conventional methods.
“This is the only solution for housing driven technology because what we are doing before using the conventional methods will not take us far. With formwork, the buildings are manufactured according standards and specifications. This is what we need to do to get it right in this country.
“Government should realise that housing is a social responsibility, they must encourage the private developers by reducing the cost of land to deliver affordable housing.”
Akintude argued that the estate is a functional government approved, energy efficient residential estate designed to make homeownership faster, convenient and affordable for the middle-income class.
“The biogas uses wastes people generate from their toilets. The wastes are processed to release electrical energy that powers all the lightning systems.”
“We set the formwork and in three days, pour the concrete inside and in ten days, one house is standing. Another advantage of it, is that you don’t use a single wood in the process. It is also environment- friendly; waste is almost zero, unlike when you’re carrying blocks.
“Then, the quality of the piping system, called multi layer piping system has 99-year guaranteed. The systems combine the thermal strength of the aluminum with the corrosive capacity of the plastics. It will not corrode or brake.”
The Managing Director, AMDC, Demola Akindolire, explained that the urbanisation rate of Lagos is growing to about three per cent and by 2030; it would be about 4.5 per cent. “The housing crisis is a time bomb, we’re seating on. The slums and people living on uncompleted buildings are the outcome of the housing deficits.
“The solution cannot be the conventional method of building. It cannot work. We need a rapid technology of construction that can deliver mass housing to solve the crisis. The technology comes with speed of construction, reduces wastes and cost of labour.”