•As initiative targets low income earners
By Kingsley Adegboye
DETERMINED to address the huge shortfall in the Nigeria’s housing sector which is put at a whopping 18 million units, as it particularly affects the low income earning groups of the country, Lafarge Africa Plc, Africa’s cement giant and construction solutions company, has unveiled a housing scheme known as Easy Home.
The Easy Home initiative which is targeted mainly at low income earners who ordinarily have no hope of owning houses of theirs in life because of their low income earning capacity, is equally meant to meet affordable housing provision of the nation.
At a media roundtable on affordable housing in Lagos organised by Lafarge recently, the promoters of Easy Home noted that the scheme is Lafarge Africa Plc’s pragmatic affordable housing solution, which is expected to build a business initiative with positive social impacts.
The country’s Affordable Housing Development Manager, Mr. Aurélien Boyer, while speaking on the initiative, said the scheme will afford those who find it difficult to build or buy homes within a short period of time the opportunity to do so, pointing out that “It is a new dawn, as Lafarge Africa Plc, the continent’s leading housing and infrastructure solutions company, is out to make it easy for them to build and own homes with its Easy Home initiative”.
Explaining why Nigerians must build houses of their own, Boyer said the population of the country increases at 2.8 per cent yearly and is projected to be the world’s third largest by 2050, adding that there is currently a housing deficit of 17m amidst an urbanization rate of 4.7 per cent.
Describing the affordable housing initiative, he said “This is the only home construction solution for low income earners; it is the solution for this class of people who earn between N20,000 to N30,000 and are aiming to build their own houses. The solution is accessible to everybody including petty traders, civil servants, taxi drivers, barbers, etc”.
Also speaking, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, Lafarge Africa’s Director, Communications and Public Affairs, said “Easy Home is an ambitious housing solution which involves 25 countries globally. In 2016 alone, over 445,000 people were impacted and it is targeting to impact 25 million people by 2030. In Nigeria, about 30,000 people have benefited from the initiative and still counting.
“Lafarge Africa is committed to facilitating affordable housing across Nigeria with its Easy Home initiative, a home construction solution which has so far benefited over 30,000 people since it began three years ago. The solution is an opportunity available for all. We will provide you with technical support as long as you have a building project because we vouch for our cement and concrete solutions”, Folashade said.
She explained that based on the long term aspiration of the affordable housing value proposition at the group level, LafargeHolcim hopes to positively impact about 25 million around the world by 2020, pointing out that Nigeria would hopefully represent a significant portion of the projected beneficiaries.
According to the director of Communications and Public Affairs who disclosed that Easy Home looks at how people who build are facing the challenges of finance, artisans, project execution and land acquisition, added that the initiative offers builders the opportunity to leverage its partnerships such as the one it has with Lapo Micro-finance Bank which provides housing finance for those that come through this initiative.
Boyer further stated that the housing scheme also provides free technical advisory services and assistance, pointing out that “We deliver a construction estimate such as the quantity of cement, blocks and their unit cost in just 10 minutes.
“These technical advisory services are offered unconditionally, but the beneficiaries are expected to use Lafarge cement and blocks because those are the materials the company is confident to use. The technical support is also available to anybody who has his own source of funds other than the one offered by LAPO Micro-finance Bank”.
Boyer said that anyone, whether he is a business owner, a salary earner or civil servant can apply for this solution, maintaining however that a prospective client must show evidence of stable source of income. He added that to access the loan, the applicant has to bring a deed of agreement or transfer showing that he is the owner of the landed property and a proof of income as the primary criteria.
According to Easy Home promoters, within the three years of its operation, the initiatve has impacted people in several states of the federation including Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Ondo, Osun, Nasarawa, Niger, Calabar, Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers. They said scheme has enabled about 10 percent of its beneficiaries to build business structures such as shops, schools, clinics, bakeries, while creating opportunities for these businesses to generate billions of Naira with ample job opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming youths.
“This is the only home construction solution for low income earners; it is the solution for this class of people who earn from N20,000 to N30,000 and are aiming to build their homes. The solution is accessible to everybody including petty traders, civil servants, taxi drivers, barbers, etc”, Boyer noted.