Effect of housing shortages in the country has had a far reaching effect on major states and cities in the country. Most hit is Lagos State being the microcosm of Nigeria as the population keep rising on a daily bases. To solve this housing problems, the state government encourages both private sector participation and partnerships participation to complement whatever it could do in that direction. Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State during the inaugurated a 1000-hectare modern satellite city in Epe-Ibeju Lekki axis, projected to create over 200,000 jobs. The governor said at the event that it would also serve as housing schemes for all the major projects coming on board within the Lekki Free Zone. He said the unveiling of the project named “Alaro City” was a major milestone in his administration’s vision of making every part of the state economically viable and livable. He described the development as a dream come true. Ambode said that the new city was coming on board with major projects in the works in the Lekki-Epe corridor, such as the Free Zone, largest Deep Sea Port in Africa and International Airport, among others. He said that facilities for workers, investors and the people generally was desirous, hence the need for the initiative. Ambode said: “The Alaro Satellite city was conceived to provide housing schemes to a broad spectrum of income earners, industrial work spaces, warehouses, hospitality and commercial office facilities, among others.
The abiogenesis is why the partnership between it and a developer, Rendeavour is welcomed as part of government’s efforts to make housing not only available but affordable. According to one of the founders of Rendeavour, the Alaro Satellite City, the development of the City is to help provide housing and jobs; direct and indirect jobs to Lagosians. He said Alaro City is a mixed-income, city-scale development with master-planned areas for offices, homes, logistics and warehousing, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, entertainment and 150 hectares of park and open spaces. Rendeavour and Lagos State Government, through their subsidiary, North West Quadrant Development Company (NWQDC), have conceived Alaro City as a 2,000-hectare, market-led project. The achievement of this go a long way in helping Lagos in the battle to reduce shelter problems because the population of Lagos State has skyrocketed in such a way that even the efforts of private investors have not been noticed. This is why the intention of Lagos State to partner with Zendeavour for the development of a satellite city out of Alaro is a welcome development. Going by the statements of the promoters of the development firm, the import of the vision is assured because Rendeavour being Africa’s largest developer may not give anybody doubts as per delivering on schedule. Conceived as a 2,000 hectare city in partnership with Lagos State Government, the inclusive city will be market led in its approach and feature developments across a broad spectrum.
The developer by extension is backed by American, British, Norwegian and New Zealand investors with a long-term commitment to Africa, and to Nigeria in particular and according to one of the officials of the developer, it opened its first businesses in Nigeria in 2006, launching Renaissance Capital, one of Nigeria’s and the continent’s leading investment banks and in 2012, it established RenMoney, Nigeria’s leading consumer finance bank. Since that time, it has not wavered in its commitment to large-scale, transformational investment in Nigeria and especially in Lagos, the country’s commercial nerve centre. As Africa’s largest builder of new cities, it is developing seven major satellite cities in five African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and the DRC. These cities, on more than 12,000 hectares of land, are providing homes, offices, schools, hospitals and industrial parks within well-planned urban environments, delivering new roads and utilities such as power, water and ICT, to thousands of people today, and to hundreds of thousands in the future.
The most important aspect of the company’s presence in Nigeria is that aside reducing the deficit we have in housing, it will also provide jobs to the teeming Nigerian youth population who, due to lack of employment opportunities and encouragement to venture into personal entrepreneurial activities, have decided to use their brains and energy irregularly. The coming of the company at this time is seen by some experts as employment window that will go to support the developing Lekki Free Zone that has promises of redeeming the nation of job dearth if all the projects springing up thereabouts eventually come alive. Looking to the company’s work in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia as examples, it have invested approximately $300 million of its capital to develop sustainable and inclusive new cities. In turn this has catalysed well over $1 billion in additional investment in construction, plant and equipment in these countries by indigenous and multinational companies looking to build their own futures in Africa. In cities developed by the developers, more than 60 companies including Unilever, MTN and Africa Logistics Properties, the IFC- and CDC-financed Grade A warehousing business, are building or have completed offices, manufacturing facilities and world-class logistics and warehousing complexes. Five new school campuses have opened in its cities by partners such as Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed ADvTECH and Nova Pioneer, educating thousands of students every day. Several more major schools are also in the planning phase.
However, if all these private partnerships programs (PPPs) are not given the necessary government support by providing enabling environment and the requisite infrastructure that would sustain them in terms of project maintenance, then the whole exercise will eventually turn to white elephant projects. If anything is to be derived from the promise of the company to provide affordable housing for 3,000 families and kilometres upon kilometres of roads and water and sewerage systems with more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs being created so far, then, the government of Ambode would have created a legacy for the unborn generations. Many of those to work in the facilities mentioned above, would be sourced from the company’s host communities having been trained at its own skills centres. Then what the company would expect expect from government on its own in terms of facilities maintenance will have to go a long way to complement the rest. According to Stephen Jennings, “we have hit the ground running. Alaro City is well and truly open for business. The first major road construction will commence shortly after today’s launch, and Alaro City’s first businesses will be operational within the next month. A second facility is already under construction, and other businesses, homes and our first office complex are to follow later this year. At 2,000 hectares, the city will provide tens of thousands of jobs with a thousand of these commencing in the next 12 months alone, all of which will be backed by programs that prioritise upskilling our surrounding communities. Jennings said the company has hit the ground running. Alaro City is well and truly open for business. The first major road construction will commence shortly after today’s launch, and Alaro City’s first businesses will be operational within the next month. A second facility is already under construction, and other businesses, homes and our first office complex are to follow later this year. At 2,000 hectares, the city will provide tens of thousands of jobs with a thousand of these commencing in the next 12 months alone, all of which will be backed by programs that prioritise upskilling our surrounding communities.
Prior to this time, the mortgage option under the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) was the cheapest means of becoming a Lagos State housing unit owner. This entails a deposit of 30 per cent as equity contribution while payment of the balance in monthly instalments is spread over a period of 10 years. However, it was observed that many of the young adults and low income earners were unable to come up with the deposit. Meanwhile, under the new Rent-To-Own policy, individuals are required to pay only 5 per cent of the cost of the housing unit as the commitment fee and the balance is spread over a period of 10 years. This policy allows allottees to live in the property while paying towards ownership at a fixed rent over the 10 year period. The Rent-To-Own policy is for every resident of the state irrespective of state of origin, profession, gender, religion and status. Contrary to views and comments gathered on the streets and across some online media platforms which revealed that some Lagosians are skeptical on the credibility and sincerity of the process and allocation system that would produce the winners of these houses, the fact and the truth is that one does not need to know anybody in government before one could benefit from the programme.
All that is required for eligibility is for prospective allottee to possess a LASRRA Card, reside in Lagos State, be above 21 years, have a steady source of income, be a taxpayer as well as a guarantee that 33 r cent of monthly income covers the monthly repayment. Interestingly, the initiative is not just about making people home owners but giving them homes in a clean, safe and live-able environment. All the schemes are developed in serene and beautiful gated communities with facilities such as water treatment plants, adequate parking space, health care centre, estate management office, street lights, recreational area and a police post for security.