The construction and real estate sector is characterised by a business environment that hampers the operation and growth of firms, and the delivery of income and employment opportunities for the poor.
GEMS2 partnered with a number of advocacy organisations, from those representing the urban poor to women’s based groups, and provided these with capacity building and mentoring support. The aim was for the poor to be better represented by their advocacy organisations and for these organisations to have greater technical and financial capacity to conduct advocacy.
Housing for the urban poor
There is a grave lack of affordable housing in Nigeria, leaving millions of Nigerians without a decent home. Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Administration has allocated 7.1 hectares of land to be used for affordable housing, delivering on a promise made to GEMS2’s partner, the Federation for the Urban Poor (FEDUP). FEDUP, which had received advocacy training from GEMS2, is now expanding and taking its successful advocacy model to 36 new states to represent the urban poor. FEDUP’s expansion is already delivering results, with land being allocated in Akwa Ibom and Delta States.
Stronger private sector advocacy in the construction sector
The Local Content Bill for the construction and real estate sector, arguably the most important piece of legislation being deliberated for the sector since Nigerian independence, is benefitting from greater private sector participation as a result of GEMS2’s support to the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria (ACEN). ACEN is now taking a lead role in forming the Built Environment Professionals Forum to spearhead the private sector’s engagement with policy makers to advocate for important issues in the sector. The Local Content Bill, if appropriately designed and implemented, holds the potential to generate significant value for the Nigerian economy, and associated employment and income opportunities for the poor.
Increased participation in the construction sector by women
Women play an important role in supporting markets in the construction and real estate sector, but growth and operation of their firms is hampered by a myriad of factors. GEMS2 worked to enhance the representation of women in the construction and real estate sector. GEMS 2 helped in the creation of the Association of Women in Building Construction and partnered with the Association of Women in Real Estate and Property Development (at the time an informal organisation) to build its organisational and advocacy capacity. These organisations are now formal entities and have begun the important process of delivering services to their members. This has already generated enhanced incomes for women in the sector.
Case Study: Women Build their Construction Businesses
“With the technical assistance provided by GEMS 2, I have been able to access funds to implement a secured contract worth 860 Million Naira for a construction project in the FCT, Abuja, Nigeria”, Mrs Nnenna Nwana, a building contractor working with GEMS 2 on its Women Economic Empowerment intervention, stated at a recent interview in Lagos.
Mrs Nwana’s success story re-echoes those of her colleague, Barrister Tina Agbor Builder, an Estate Management Consultant. At one of the regular Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) meetings facilitated by GEMS2 she explained:
“I was able to mobilise resources for a recent job I secured which was beyond my present capacity. But as a result of these meeting, which at this point is a good networking platform, I was able to reach out to one of the women on this project who has expertise and could deliver. Now that the job is completed, the lesson for me is: even if I don’t have the resources within my company for a particular job, I could still deliver the job if I work with my fellow established women in the industry…”
Prior to engaging with GEMS2, Mrs Nwana had tried without any success to secure a loan to execute the 860 Million Naira worth building. According to her, “they just didn’t believe that my company was big enough, and as a woman that I could the job”.
However, with technical support from GEMS2 team, Ron Ashkin, Project Technical Director, and the two Business Development Coordinators, Kikelomo Koya and Dolapo Olusanmokun, she was advised to apply for a phased loan instead of lump as she previously did. She employed this new approach and was able to raise a substantial amount of money to cover the first phase of the project.
It is widely acknowledged that Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) opportunities in the Nigerian construction industry are currently limited, with the Input Supplies area holding perhaps the greatest potential for expanding women’s involvement in the sector.
In order to encourage the participation of women in the sector and keep the pipeline of ideas flowing, GEMS2 launched the ‘Women in Construction’ funding window of the GEMS 2 Challenge Fund which aims to increase women’s participation in Nigeria’s construction sector, including in supplier industries. To do so, the fund is awarding grants of between £25,000 and £200,000 to organisations that design innovative ways of employing and retaining women workers and of removing obstacles to women’s participation in the sector.
An estimated 60% of the input supplies used in Nigeria’s construction and real estate sector are imported. This reduces the potential for the growth of the sector to translate into enhanced income and employment opportunities for the poor.
GEMS2 engaged with input suppliers to facilitate innovation in the sector, so that more value would be created in the supply chain process, leading to higher incomes and greater job opportunities for workers in the input supply chain. GEMS2 facilitated the adoption of process and product improvement by demonstrating the benefits of selected improvements to firms and policy makers.
Design of the first construction waste management policy
The Lagos Waste Management Authority is making good progress in designing Nigeria’s first Construction Demolition Waste Management (CDWM) Policy as a result of GEMS2’s support. GEMS2 enhanced the policy management process behind the CDWM Policy through the intensive delivery of technical support in 2013. The implementation of the CDWM Policy is expected to generate at least 20,000 jobs in Lagos alone. The adoption of CDWM Policies across Nigeria will transform the construction and real estate sector, and with it the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor people.
Higher quality building blocks, higher earnings for labourers
GEMS2 has successfully introduced a new block making technology to Nigeria. This technology not only enhances the strength of blocks, thereby increasing the strength of buildings, but has also generated greater incomes for labourers who now produce higher quality blocks that they sell for higher prices, earning higher margins. With companies investing in the technology and a local distributor now in place to facilitate market uptake, this innovation holds the potential to enhance value added in the construction and real estate sector and increase incomes for thousands of block makers.
Reducing the cost of building housing
GEMS2 has enhanced the use of red bricks in construction, improving the marketing capacity of a major brick distributor, Bolyn. Bricks are a low cost alternative to the blocks more commonly used in Nigeria’s construction. With GEMS2’s support, Bolyn led the creation of the Earth Brick Advisory Group to facilitate the market’s further adoption of red bricks. Red bricks will reduce the cost of housing construction, thereby making housing more affordable for hundreds of thousands of low and middle-income families. This will generate enhanced income and employment opportunities for the poor.
Key Achievements in Skills Development
The skills development system in Nigeria’s construction and real estate sector suffers from a number of critical issues. These restrict the sector’s ability to drive the delivery of income and employment generating opportunities for the poor. The system of assessment and certification is weak, training bodies lack physical, technical and financial capacity and building standards and codes are rarely enforced (reducing the incentives to hire skilled workers). As a result, Nigerian workers often lack skills demanded by local construction firms and are therefore substituted by imported labour.
GEMS2 engaged with a number of organisations in the market system for skills development to enhance the quantity and quality of skills being delivered to the construction and real estate sector’s labour market. During the latter phases of the programme, GEMS2 focussed on facilitating increased funding for skills development, enhancing the technical and management capacity of training bodies, improving the system of assessment and certification, and increasing the private sector’s participation in the design and management of skills development initiatives.
Better chances for an apprenticeship training programme
The Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) launched the Modern Apprenticeship Training Programme (MATP) in 2012. However, the MATP got off to a poor start, with enrolments being only 18% of the targets set. GEMS2 engaged with LASTVEB to enhance the management and administration of the MATP, to market the MATP to employers and to enhance the design and monitoring of the MATP.
As a result of GEMS2 support, LASTVEB has now implemented a number of significant changes to enhance the MATP. These include the implementation of a new Organisational Plan, the adoption of new sources of funding, such as the creation of a Lagos State Skills Development Fund, capacity development for trainers and, critically, awareness building and stakeholder coordination for the MATP. As a result of GEMS2’s support, there is now a renewed interest in the MATP and a commitment by both the private and the public sector to its success.
Artisan training increases potential for skills development
GEMS2’s partnership with the Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB) in Kano was designed to support the delivery of skills development initiatives to thousands of poor workers. This would improve artisans’ skills and would increase the capacity of the private sector to manage and regulate the supply of skilled labour.
As a result of GEMS2’s support, the NIOB adopted a new training model and 23 Master Artisans were trained in training and assessment. The Kano State Board for Technical Education approved the use of a Government Technical College for training and, following GEMS2’s support to NIOB’s procurement processes, the Kano State Government allocated funding for training. The implementation of this new model of training, and the government’s support of it, increases the potential for skills development and its associated generation of income and employment opportunities for the poor.