For the majority of Nigerians, owning a home is almost impossible.
According to 2016 research by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, the country has a home-ownership rate of 25%, which is low, especially when compared to 73% in Kenya and 56% in South Africa. Key contributors to this include a lack of adequate mortgage-finance options and the high cost of housing, with logistical challenges and the excessive cost of building materials and land allocation increasing the price of a house.
As a result, Nigeria’s current housing deficit stands at around 17 million, which is estimated to cost US$363bn to curb. Considering this deficit is expected to increase by two million houses per year alongside population growth, and 64.2% of urban dwellers live in slum conditions, Nigeria is in need of innovative solutions to solve its housing crisis.
Amaka Osarieme Nwaokolo believes she has that solution. She is the founder of Blue Tower House International Ltd, a company that aims to provide affordable, quality housing for low- to lower-middle-income Nigerians.
Prior to starting her company, Nwaokolo spent five years working in the construction industry and realised the greatest challenge facing the housing sector was the high cost of land and building materials.
“I thought, if we can’t do anything about the cost of land – because that is beyond our control – then maybe we can do something about reducing the cost of construction, so the price the end user has to pay won’t be as high as it is right now.”
Nwaokolo’s solution combines new methods of construction alongside flexible monthly payment plans. For example, she proposes the use of aerated blocks (a lightweight, porous concrete) which she says can cut construction time by more than half, and notably reduce costs.
Today her company is in the last stages of completing five one-bedroom houses in Abuja, which she funded through personal savings and a grant awarded from a business plan competition. Her homes are expected to be listed by the end of 2016 at a rent of up to 250,000 naira per year (about $66 per month).