Lagos living: Solving Nigeria’s megacity housing crisis

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Nigeria’s largest city Lagos is facing a housing crisis. The BBC’s Nancy Kacungira looks at how entrepreneurs are trying to solve the crisis.

Developers say Eko Atlantic is aimed at those on a middle income

Affordable housing is a considerable challenge for urban areas with large populations, and this is particularly prevalent in the Nigeria’s city of Lagos.

More than 500,000 people move to the city every year, and there is already a housing deficit of more than 17 million units.

There are on-going projects of varying scale trying to address the shortage; one is reclaiming land from the Atlantic Ocean to build a new city suburb called Eko Atlantic on the shores of Victoria Island.

Tonnes of sand and heavy rock were poured into the ocean to provide 10 sq km (3.8 sq miles) of land for shops, offices and homes. Nigeria’s largest city Lagos is facing a housing crisis. The BBC’s Nancy Kacungira looks at how entrepreneurs are trying to solve the crisis.

Affordable housing is a considerable challenge for urban areas with large populations, and this is particularly prevalent in the Nigeria’s city of Lagos.

Some housing projects remain unoccupied because they are pricey

More than 500,000 people move to the city every year, and there is already a housing deficit of more than 17 million units.

There are on-going projects of varying scale trying to address the shortage; one is reclaiming land from the Atlantic Ocean to build a new city suburb called Eko Atlantic on the shores of Victoria Island.

Tonnes of sand and heavy rock were poured into the ocean to provide 10 sq km (3.8 sq miles) of land for shops, offices and homes. If I wanted to rent a house where I would prefer in Lagos I would be spending at least 80% of my pay cheque to move in because I would have to pay two years’ rent upfront, agency fees and maintenance fees.

“And from then on I would have to spend another 60-70% of my pay cheque every year on rent, which doesn’t make sense.

“The problem is not that there are no houses. If you look around, there are empty houses all over Lagos; some can even go a year without being rented out.

“The problem is that people can’t afford them. We need better alternatives.”
Refurbishing shipping containers

One Nigerian company is thinking inside the box in order to provide a cheaper housing option – by making homes out of cargo containers.

Shipping containers are modified to make houses but Nigerians are not keen on them

Dele Ijaiya-Oladipo says he co-founded Tempohousing Nigeria to provide a creative solution in a city that desperately needs low-cost housing.
The only way we can get the housing deficit sorted is by providing good quality houses at affordable rates.

“You can’t build a million homes at a price that no-one will ever afford – that doesn’t achieve anything.”

Mr Ijaiya-Oladipo’s container homes are 25% cheaper than traditional housing, and can be built in as little as two weeks.

“But the concept is still foreign to many Nigerians; so most of his clients tend to use the containers to build office spaces, not homes,” he says.

“Until a potential client actually sees our past work, they can’t really picture how a shipping container can be used as a finished house or office.

“We have to encourage people to visit our office which is made out of containers, so they can see what we are talking about.”

From a self-sustaining city to refurbished-shipping containers, private sector real-estate developers are offering both big and small solutions – and Lagos needs them all.

The city is Africa’s largest, and its population is expected to double by 2050; putting even more pressure on already limited housing options.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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