Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stakeholders see future in real estate market, decry high cost of housing

Beyond the current 17 million housing deficit in the country, operators in the real estate sector of the nation’s economy have said there is hope for affordable housing in the nearest future.
They, however, expressed sadness over rising cost of housing, especially the government-built houses.
The view was expressed in Lagos on Thursday at ‘Real Estate Market Review and Projections 2013’ by Roland Igbinoba, president/CEO, Pison Housing Company; David Kpue, Ag. general manager, Federal Housing Authority (FHA); Femi Johnson, president, Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN); Kayode Omotoso, executive secretary/CEO, MBAN; Tony

Monye, chief economist, Access Bank Plc; and Kojo Addo-Kufuor, COO, Ghana Home Loans, Ghana.
Giving an overview of the real estate market, Igbinoba said the sector faced a lot of challenges last year which ranged from infrastructure, funding, capacity building to high interest rate.
According to him, “Although funding is critical, there are a whole lot of other factors. If you bring in multi-million naira into the real estate market, it does not mean the problem of the sector will be over. But I think capacity building is a major challenge.”

He commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for ensuring the stability of the exchange rate, adding that political stability in the country has, to a large extent, impacted positively on the
real estate market.
Igbinoba noted that there are good opportunities in the sector despite the seeming tough times.
“The market is tough, no doubt, but developers must be able to take the risk to invest in any category of the real estate they wish to involve in. The outlook for the market is good for 2013. The Nigerian environment does not know how to support your business, but it knows how to handsomely reward you,” he said.
In his presentation, Tony Monye, who spoke on ‘Global Economy and Real Estate Market/Macroeconomic Analysis of Real Estate Investment in Nigeria’, compared the local market with what goes on in the United States, China and Europe.
According to Monye, those nations were yet to fully re


Nigeria: Towards an End to Property Demolition

The demolition of a housing estate in Abuja last year has remained a sore point for estate developers in the territory. While the affected developers are still trying to recover from the loss, stakeholders in the sector are of the opinion that more investment could be lost if conscious efforts are not put in place to checkmate these activities. Even though some stakeholder consider the destruction of such building as unnecessary since the country is faced with an alarming housing deficit, others are of the view that the government needs to put in place the right policies so that housing will be available for everyone. Evelyn Okoruwa writes Billions of money invested in property has been lost of recent to the demolition of such properties, often termed illegal by the authorities.

According to stakeholders in the housing sector, the ripple negative effect demolition of property has on the economy cannot be over emphasised as it cripples economic activities.
One of such negative effects is the resultant unemployment as workers employed in these demolished sites have been out of work.

The build industry employs labourers such plumbers, carpenters, iron benders, brick layers, masons, painters and professionals like architects, surveyors, engineers and other relevant professions.
Apart from that the transport sector has been greatly affected since people hardly move building materials from one point to another, this has invariable affected both the building materials sellers and the transporters. While in the mining sector only few aggregates are being bought, in addition to that, the developers themselves have lost the money invested in developing such sites.

An independent developer who craved anonymity told LEADERSHIP that he lost over N20 million during the demolition exercise and is yet to receive any compensation from the government.
He disclosed that he took ill when his site was demolished and is still yet to recover from the shock due to the money he lost, emphasizing that the money was borrowed and he is still trying to service the loan he took to develop the site.
Speaking on the issue, the President Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Chief Olabode Afolayan, noted it is really difficult to quantify the loss as millions of money have been lost in the whole demolition exercise.He disclosed that the exercise ha not only affected the housing sector but all other sectors that depend on it to strive.

"For a couple of months, Dangote Cement had to close its factory in Benue State because of drought. You can begin to itemise it that way. So the loss is really much. It is unquantifiable. I can authoritatively say that it has affected the GDP of the country by the time things are being put together at the end of the year."
However, the government has promised to forestall any future demolition. REDAN's Executive Secretary, Mr. Goke Odunlami, disclosed that members affected in the Lugbe demolition has agreed to take the advice of the chairman, Senate committee on the FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, to go into negotiation with the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, instead of pursuing the court case.

He further disclosed that most of the affected members have agreed to opt out of court and negotiate with the minister, while reaffirming that the Lugbe crisis will soon be over. Rrecall that over 1,004 houses were demolished in Lugbe, Abuja, between August and October last year and it was estimated that property owners may have lost over N37 billion to the demolition of illegal structures.

While stakeholders continue to groan over their loss, they lament the unseriousness of the government to provide housing for Nigerians considering the huge housing deficit which is widely acclaimed to be between 16 to 18 million. While noting that the housing deficit is much more than the estimated number, they lamented that rather than encourage developers, the government is making it difficult for them to help ease the deficit.
As part of the Federal Government's transformation agenda, it had on many occasions promised to deliver affordable housing to Nigerians.

However developers have argued that the federal government is not ready to provide housing and have implored Nigerians to know that their future is in their own hands in terms of housing delivery.
They urged Nigerians not to rely solely on the government but contribute their own quota, stressing that the implication of the government's laid back attitude to the housing sector is that for there to be adequate housing in Nigeria, the sector must be 99.9 per cent private sector driven but however urged the government to bring the right policies into play in order to move the sector forward. Stressing the importance of the right policies, the National Secretary General, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Mr. Akinpelu Adewumi, noted that any government policy that is not implementable, measurable or sustainable will not give any result.

He disclosed that if government is serious about mass housing, it must be seen to be driving the policy. He opined that one way the government can drive it is to provide infrastructure, noting that if developers are allowed to provide infrastructure for buildings, such houses will not be affordable.
Adewumi urged the government to provide infrastructure first and then see how to incorporate local materials into the production and as such the cost would be brought down drastically.
By encouraging our local goods, he said more jobs would be created in the process while building cost would also be reduced.

Intellectual Property Marketplace Analysis

As the areas of trademarks and patent continue to expand, there is increasing demand from stakeholders for firmer intellectual property protection. Counterfeiting remains a problematic issue, and lawyers are relentlessly arguing for improved regulation of IP protection and enforcement. Such reforms would reassure international corporations of the opportunities for growth that exist in the region. Our research recognises 19 practitioners who are leaders in their field.

Jackson Etti & Edu provides a wide range of services in the area, and sees three of its lawyers listed in this chapter. Uwa Ohiku leads the intellectual property department and is a “renowned specialist” in the field. Her expertise covers trademarks in particular, and clients include prominent blue chip international organisations based in the US and the UK. Lookman Durosinmi-Etti, a senior partner at the firm, comes widely recommended for his “wealth of experience” in the sector and continues to act as a valued consultant to UN development projects on IP in the region. The “superb” Koye Edu has a multifaceted practice and provides “expert advice” on intellectual property protection.

Three practitioners from Abdulai Taiwo & Co are selected for inclusion. Ladi Taiwo is an “outstanding innovator” in the field and clients benefit from his “in-depth knowledge” of the discipline. Ayo Kusamotu is recognised by peers for his “unique expertise” in intellectual property and the internet, whilst Abdul-Rasheed Sadiq has a practice which offers “real value” to clients.

Allan & Ogunkeye is represented by two lawyers in this section. Obatosin Ogunkeye receives widespread acclaim from peers in the field, and his abilities as a litigator in trademarks, industrial designs and patent matters are “hugely respected”. Marlies Allan is recommended as a “first-rate” IP practitioner and is currently the president of the Nigerian group of the International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Mark Mordi of Aluko & Oyebode is an “excellent negotiator”, having developed a successful practice brokering out of court settlements in IP enforcement matters. In the same area, he is a “formidable litigator”, and has successfully represented an array of clients including multinational pharmaceutical companies. Joining him is Uche Nwokocha, a “vital member” of the firm’s IP team who is recognised by clients as a “foremost authority on various intellectual property issues”, ranging from patents and designs to technology transfer agreements.

Chief GO Sodipo & Co’s managing partner Bankole Sodipo is highly rated in our research, which reflects his status as a “true authority on Nigerian intellectual property law”. Sodipo is president of the Intellectual Property Law Association of Nigeria, which collaborates with the government and private sector in lobbying for reform of IP rights.

Olugboyega Kayode at David Garrick Kayode & Co is “vastly experienced” in Nigerian intellectual property law, having advised both local and international corporations on the protection, licensing and enforcement of their IP rights.

Lara Kayode is the founding partner of O Kayode & Co, and is well known for her “forensic attention to detail” in relation to IP disputes. She has a practice that covers all aspects of intellectual property law, with particular emphasis on industrial property, IP protection and mediation.

At AELEX, Theophilus I Emuwa is praised for “delivering commercially-focused solutions” to clients in the realm of IP law matters, and has a “dynamic” practice that includes advising multinational entities on IP enforcement in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Mena Ajakpovi handles the intellectual property portfolio at Abraham & Co and is an “esteemed practitioner” in the field. Ajakpovi has a “stellar skillset” which covers IP registration and enforcement and he sits on a sub-committee on trademarks and trade names at the International Trademark Association.

Managing partner at Stillwaters Law Firm, Afam Nwokedi stands out for his “high-profile work” in the patent and design, trade marks and copyright sectors.

At Chuma Anosike & Co, principal partner Chuma Anosike possesses “industry-leading” expertise in the area of pharmaceutical intellectual property, and displays “admirable adaptability” in representing globally placed clients from multiple industries.

Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun’s Afolabi Caxton-Martins is recommended “without question” and is a “go-to name” for legal consultation on trademarks disputes.

Sam Okagbue of George Ikoli & Okagbue merits inclusion for his “steadfast commitment” to meeting clients’ needs in the areas of patents and trademarks.