Piqued by the sustained lack of access to mortgage and housing microfinance nationwide, the Nigeria Housing Finance Programme (NHFP) implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the support of the World Bank, has commenced its process of literacy and consumer education campaign to stem the tide.
The NHFP has engaged the services of an Abuja based communication firm, Blake & Harper Nigeria to develop strategies and deploy materials for consumer education. This, it hopes would help stimulate awareness, increase mortgage uptake nationwide and open access to housing micro finance through a pilot program with eligible Micro Finance Banks (MFB).
Recently in Abuja, the Governor of CBN, represented by the Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department (OFISD), Mrs. Tokunbo Martins and Managing Director, Blake & Harper Nigeria, Mr. Daniel Kure put pen to paper to kick-start the mass literacy campaign.
Various communication tools are planned to help create the awareness. They would involve exploiting a mix of traditional and new media. There would be advertisement, public relations, activation of campaign plan, heightened awareness through the social media platforms etc.
Through direct marketing, mortgage originating institutions (Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) and Commercial Banks) applying uniform underwriting standards, Housing Microfinance operators and potential homeowners would be engaged and enlightened.
Several brochures, pamphlets, leaflets and assorted literature would be produced and distributed across the country among stakeholders. There would as well be direct interaction with the relevant publics through workshops, town and market storms.
By these activities, the Nigerian government through the NHFP wants to confront the country’s huge housing deficit that is estimated at 17 million houses with catalytic process and pilot products.
In spite of Nigeria being Africa’s largest economy with a GDP of $510 billion, the housing and construction sector accounts for only 3.1% of the rebased GDP, producing about 100,000 units of houses per year.
The lackluster performance of the country’s Mortgage and Housing micro financing penetration has been of great concern for the government and the industrial subsector – industries and jobs associated with the housing industry.
It is estimated that of the nation’s estimate 10.7 million housing stock, barely five percent is through formal mortgage. Also, compared with other nations, 10 percent of Nigerians own homes as against 72 percent in the United States of America, 78 percent in the United Kingdom, 60 percent in China and 92 percent in Singapore.
The World Bank support for communication through the technical assistance component of the NHFP would impact a four-point plan to increase access to housing finance. This plan would help deepen Nigeria’s primary and secondary mortgage markets.
First is the establishment of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), which is the outcome of a partnership between private financial institutions, development finance institutions, and the Federal Ministry of Finance. The NMRC issues standard corporate bonds into the capital market and subsequently refinance eligible mortgage.
The second component is establishment of a mortgage guarantee scheme, which would be targeted at potential borrowers with capacity to meet mortgage repayment obligations but have inadequate equity required by the uniform underwriting standard.
The third component focuses on Housing Microfinance (HMF) scheme through eligible Microfinance Banks (MFBs) targeted at lower income borrowers. This component aims at supporting the development and piloting of new and or emerging formal HMF products.
The fourth is Technical Assistance (TA) in capacity building of the sub-sector. It will include provision of operational support to NMRC including assistance for bond issuance, mortgage lender training, mortgage consumer protection and financial literacy, housing market information, and impact evaluation of the mortgage market.