NIGERIA – Lafarge Africa Plc. and Fortis Microfinance Bank (MFB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the provision of low cost mass housing in Nigeria.

According to the MoU, which was signed at the head office of the microfinance bank in Abuja, the first phase of the project is expected to produce 500 affordable homes for buyers within six months to one year from the start of the project.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Aggregates & Concrete, Lafarge Africa Plc, Loren Zanin stated that the partnership with Fortis was in line with the company’s strategy to make available its affordable housing solutions in all 36 states of Nigeria.

“We believe everyone has the right to have a home. The housing microfinance programme is a social business initiative; it aims at enabling low income people, who represent 80% of Nigerians, to become homeowners, at a time when the vast majority of these people do not have access to commercial banks loans and mortgages”, he said.

“It also creates jobs for local communities in the construction industry. Besides, it is also an added value to our customers: cement retailers, block makers, etc., as, housing microfinance will enable them to grow their clientele. It’s a part of our ambition to build a better Nigeria by providing a unique tailored service to individual home builders”, he added.

Zanin further explained that Lafarge will provide quality technical assistance totally free for the beneficiaries, which will remove cost elements and make house construction cheap.

“This technical assistance is a great service to the customers as it is adapted to their needs and totally free, representing substantial savings for the customer”, he stressed.

The CEO listed the technical assistance to include catalogue of designs that can be adapted to the customer’s need and help them to build the home of their dream at the most affordable cost.

Also included was a detailed bill of quantities based on the chosen design that will enable the customer to have a realistic picture of the materials and quantities needed, with up-to-date prices, enabling the customers to control the costs.

He added that the network of quality construction materials provided by the company will enable the customer to have quality materials at controlled prices thereby reducing the risk for the bank and the customer as the money is disbursed directly to the suppliers.

Zanin noted that the company will also monitor the project from pre-loan to start of construction and end of construction ensuring timely delivery while respecting the project costs and materials quantities.

Managing Director/CEO, Fortis Microfinance Bank, Tiko Okoye stated that the bank is leveraging on Lafarge’s strength and expertise. 

“I want to praise Lafarge who has graciously agreed to partner with us to really solve the micro housing needs of Nigerians. If you know what the poverty level is and the housing deficit, you will know that this partnership is designed to achieve a major social mission and we must laud Lafarge for bringing in all their technical skills.

Lafarge will be providing technical assistance and we are going to get the products they provide cheaper and that will translate into cheaper and affordable houses.” 

Okoye noted that 600 million naira is earmarked for the 500 homes covered in the agreement.

In the same vein, Executive Director, Business Development, Fortis Microfinance Bank, Ugochukwu Ezeh commented: “This project is coming on the back of the facility we are accessing from shelter Afrique, a company based in Kenya to provide adapted housing microloans at affordable rates to Nigerian customers.

We really want to make it affordable to Nigerian as a three bedroom will be less than three million naira.”

Fortis will also ensure the customer have the capacity, thus avoiding over-indebtedness and will also educate them on a culture of savings, for them to grow their capacities to face the risks of life and of the economy.

Hitherto, Lafarge Africa Plc launched its Housing Microfinance programme tagged Easy Home in October 2013. So far 2700 families have patronized the programme and became homeowners.

The scheme, which initially started in Ogun State, is now operational in 9 states – Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Kwara, Osun, Edo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.

February 10, 2016;