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Niger State Kicks-off Urban Policy Preparation

Rallying efforts towards accelerating the development of Nigeria’s largest state in terms of land area, the Niger State government has jump-started a comprehensive programme that will deploy the potentials of its rapidly growing urban centres and their proximity to the nation’s capital, as a platform to boost the economic, social and general wellbeing of its citizens.

The renewed vigour is part of new initiative undertaken with technical assistance from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other partners, which involves the following primary activities:
One, preparation of Niger State Urban Policy (SUP), based on the Nigerian National Urban Development Policy, 2012;

Two, preparation of a pilot integrated development plans for Minna and Suleja. This, among others, will include the development of improved plans, policies and designs for them to become more compact, integrated, connected, resilient and socially inclusive;

Three, preparing a plan for developing a smart city near Suleja. The objectives of the project are to decongest Suleja and provide affordable housing for the residents and commuters to Abuja; and four, strengthening and building the capacity of the state institutions in charge of the development and management of the cities and towns.

The initiative is founded on the conviction of the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello that the effectiveness and sustainability of towns and cities were hinged on their level of good governance, especially transparency and accountability to their residents; and their ability to operate on a self-sustaining basis.

Bello equally emphasised his conviction that the over-reliance of the states and local governments, in Nigeria, on the monthly Federal Allocation had been such that their local economic potentials had remained undeveloped with inadequate efforts at achieving internal resource mobilization.

The governor expressed the eagerness of his administration to develop the human settlements sector in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner through the formulation of the SUP.

This was to ensure that the resources of the state, especially land for urban development was used efficiently and effectively for the present as well as future generations without unnecessarily depleting good agricultural land.

Essentially, the state government has received a grant from the South Korean Government to develop its urban policy and smart city strategy, alongside Iran and Myanmar. The support is to offer the three pilot projects a platform to foster synergy, coherence, capacity development and mutual learning and exchange globally on national/sub-national urban policy.

Similarly, World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Cities Alliance, as International Development Institutions, are participating in the normative planning and for the opportunity of financing related development projects from the policy.

Through this assistance, Project Manager, Niger State Urban Support Programme (NSUSP), Prof. Mustapha Zubairu, explained, the state government and other stakeholders can begin to use urban policy as an instrument for public and political awareness of the gains to be obtained from sustainable urban development.

Specifically, the State Urban Policy is being prepared through a bottom-up and stakeholder-driven process that will assist the government and people build a consensus on the causes and effects of the current development challenges of the towns and cities of the state.

The process will also ensure the rearranging the financing, management and governance of the cities and towns so that they can operate on a self-sustaining basis, instilling in all citizens the willingness to pay their equitable share of the cost of service provision.

Prof. Zubairu told The Guardian that emphasis is being placed on ensuring that those affected by the current urban challenges, and have a stake actively contribute to the whole process. “It will guard against unexpected outcomes that will have adverse consequences to the populations, especially the most vulnerable groups,” he said.

He said that a steering committee and a 33-member technical support team have been established to ensure effective support at the highest political level and participation of critical stakeholder groups in the process of developing the SUP.

The expected outcome of the SUP includes, enhanced capacity of the state and its 25 local governments to develop, implement, and monitor and evaluate the state urban policy (SUP) and develop smart city strategies.

Others are increased centralisation of knowledge and tools on the development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of urban policy (SUP) and smart city strategies.

According to him, the policy will enhance capacity among the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the state government to shape the urbanization trajectory of the state and allow cities to follow sustainable growth patterns, where densification reduces the city footprint in terms of land, energy consumption, allows for the presentation of green areas and improves ecosystem functionality and landscape connectivity.

It will also ensure that principles that promote compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change in order to exploit economies of scale and agglomeration while emphasizing the green economy.

The policy is expected to ensure that a holistic approach to urban growth is adopted and the efforts are oriented for sustainability of patterns adopted both from an environmental point of view and from a social perspective, where segregation and inequalities will be minimized or mitigated through mixed uses.

It will integrate all stakeholders with a particular focus on the needs of women and those who are most vulnerable, including children and youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, the urban poor, the landless, rural to urban migrants, to positively impact on their life.

Source: guardianng

Landlady weeps as tenant converts flats to hotel

A 75-year-old landlady, Mrs Hannah Otite, has broken down in tears following the conversion of two flats in her property located at No. 3 Kafi Street in the Alausa area of Ikeja, Lagos State, to a hotel by a tenant, Oshinsegun Ashley, without her consent.

Narrating her ordeal to PUNCH Metro recently, Otite said amid sobs that she got to know about the illegal conversion in December 2017, a few months after Ashley had moved into the house.

She explained that several attempts to get him to reverse the situation failed over the years as the tenant resorted to threatening her.

The septuagenarian said the tenant was introduced by her agent, identified simply as Kunle, in September 2017, adding that after paying N1.3m as the yearly rent for a flat, Ashley immediately indicated interest in securing another flat that became vacant.

Otite stated that unknown to her, the tenant had the dubious intention of converting the two flats into a hotel without her consent.

She said, “Ashley was brought to me by my agent, Kunle, and he paid the N1.3m annual rent for one flat. After three weeks, I went to the property and discovered that he had not moved in, I called the attention of the agent, but he said I should not bother myself since he had paid.

“I later travelled abroad and while away, I got a call that one of my tenants was moving out to his newly-built house. My agent again called to inform me that Ashley was interested in the vacant apartment for his brother, who was abroad; I was reluctant initially, because I didn’t want to give two flats to the same tenant, but he promised to abide by the agreement he had earlier signed when he rented the first flat.

“I didn’t know that he was collaborating with the agent, because shortly after, I got information from one of my other tenants that he had converted the flats to chalets. When I came back to Nigeria, I went to inspect my property only to see that Ashley had demolished the kitchen and other parts of the flats and converted them to rooms.

“I wept the day I found out that he had converted my house to a hotel because it was never in my plan. After pleading with him on several occasions to correct what he had done and move out of my house, he asked me to institute a legal action against him, boasting that he would not pay rent for the number of years the case would be in court.”

She added that she had reported the matter at the Ikeja Police Station and approached the court to evict the tenant, adding that though the case is on, Ashley had been threatening her.

Otite called on the state government and security agencies to assist her to reclaim her property.

Meanwhile, the Convener of the Movement for Human Rights Volunteers, Musbau Olatunji, has called on security operatives to protect Otite following the alleged threats by the tenant.

Olatunji told PUNCH Metro that he stepped into the matter to ensure that justice was served in the matter.

When contacted on the telephone, Ashley said he never threatened Otite, adding that there was no agreement on the second flat he rented.

He stated, “Well, the matter is in court. She was cautioned last week not to disturb us. This is a property I got on lease; I have always got lease property since I relocated to Nigeria. I have never got a tenanted property and I told her of my intention and purpose of getting the entire six flats in the property.

“I got the first flat and six months after, I got the second flat, and I did not do any work on the first flat until when the second was available. When I got the second flat, I told her what I intended doing. I had done major work there, including marble tiling, screeding and POP for the entire ceiling, and so on. I was surprised that after that, she drew my attention to a one-year agreement.

“The only agreement I had with her was for one flat. I paid for the second flat and I was not given any agreement and you are asking me to leave. I am into the hotel and apartments business and I am surprised that after I have added value to the property, she wants me out. How is that possible? I am not threatening her life and everything is in court anyway.”

Source: PUNCHng 

A Group of Former University Students in Africa Are Creating an Energy-Efficient Home Inspired by Traditional Architecture

A portable, energy-efficient home that was originally built for a competition may be available on the market soon in Africa.

The design was created by team Jua Jamii, a group of 40 former university students from countries including Tanzania, Nigeria and Swaziland.
It uses recycled shipping containers and is 100% powered by solar energy, says Donald Abonyi, one of the team members.
According to Abonyi, it was initially constructed as an entry for the Solar Decathlon Africa, a competition launched by the US Department of Energy to encourage African students to promote sustainability and meet energy housing needs.
The two-year long competition brought together 18 teams from different universities in Africa, including Jua Jamii, to create innovative, energy-efficient building structures.
Now the team wants to take things further by making the house available to the public.
“We all came together to apply to be shortlisted for the competition in late 2017. We wanted to solve some of Africa’s housing problems,” Abonyi, 27, told CNN.
“But now we are working on becoming a startup that will use green and self-sufficient building solutions to fight housing problems on the continent,” he added.

Building the house

When Jua Jamii started building the house, the plan was simple — to create affordable and energy-efficient housing for middle-income families in Africa.
The team expanded from six members to 40 in 2018 to make room for the implementation of all ideas.
“Every member had a role to play in ensuring that the house was successfully completed. We had project managers, system designers, and architects,” Abonyi said.
By gathering shipping materials from a port in Morocco, they were able to lay the foundation for the building.
Jua Jamii also focused on equipping the house with a 24-hour power supply.
In many regions on the continent, electricity is expensive and difficult to access. Residents in countries like Nigeria and Kenya rely on expensive diesel generators — which also emit a lot of pollution — as an alternative.
To curb this problem, the team incorporated building-integrated solar panels to the house for uninterrupted power.
“It is a house that is net-zero. So it produces its own energy and does not consume more than the energy it produces,” Francis Fotsing Sadeu, one of the team members, told CNN.

Inspired by African architecture

According to Sadeu, 26, Northern African architecture was incorporated into building the house.
“You cannot guess it is made from containers because it looks like a normal house. For the exterior, we adapted Northern African architecture.
“For example, it has a patio, an open space inside the house that allows natural ventilation and improves daylight,” he said.
The last stage of the Solar Decathlon took place in September in Morocco.
Jua Jamii did not win the competition, but the team members — who have now graduated from their various master’s degree programs — say they will take their product to the market in 2020.
Abonyi, who serves as the health and safety officer on the team, said the group is now focused on creating a business plan that will consider the marketability, energy production and cost of putting the house on the market.
“We want to be able to build this house for people and companies interested in our product. We also want to advise construction companies on how to build similar efficient houses,” he told CNN.
While the prototype is approximately 114 square meters, it can be made in any size requested by consumers.
Abonyi says the house is a good fit for many people because it doesn’t take long to build. “It took us two weeks to build. We can easily get one for people who are interested in our innovation,” he said.
Source: cnn

Insecurity of Land Title in Lagos: Suggestions for Reforms (2)

Adverse possession

Adverse possession is a possession that is hostile, under a claim or colour of title, actual, open, notorious, exclusive and continued for the statutory period of years and thereby giving an indivisible right of possession or title to the adverse possession under the Limitation Laws. Limitations Laws have two consequences. One, no action shall be brought to recover the land after the expiration of twelve years from the date of accrual of the right of action.

The action is said to be statute-barred. Two, the title of the rightful owner of the land will be extinguished on the expiration of the statutory period fixed by the limitation law. A person pleading adverse possession has no equities in his favour as he is trying to defeat the title of the true owner. It is for him to plead and establish all facts necessary to establish his possession. He must plead and lead evidence not necessarily when he entered possession but when his possession becomes adverse to that of the paper owner.


Acquiring title to land by adverse possession is a legislative endorsement of trespass or land theft. The law is harsh and inequitable. An adverse possessor is a trespasser/squatter who is liable in damages for trespass. Granted that the law should not encourage stale claim but to go to the extent of extinguishing the title of the rightful owner for a trespasser on account of account of lapse of time without having regard to the knowledge of rightful owner or circumstances that make it impossible for the rightful owner to protest against the trespasser is illogical and indefensible.

A frequent justification for limitation periods generally is that people should not be able to sit on their rights indefinitely. However, if as it is the present case, the owner of the land has no immediate use for it and is content to let another person trespass on the land for the time being, it is hard to see what principle of justice entitles the trespasser to acquire land for nothing from the owner simply because he has been permitted to remain there for 12 years. To say that in such circumstances the owner who has sat on his rights should, therefore, be deprived of his land appears to be illogical, and disproportionate.

However, the Land Registration Act of 2002 has overhauled the law of adverse possession in England and Wales. Under the new legal regime, mere lapse of time cannot in itself bar the rights of a registered proprietor. It is immaterial, whether or not the registered proprietor has commenced legal proceedings to terminate the squatter’s proceedings.. The Act promotes the fundamental concept of indefeasibility that is a feature of registered title by placing the onus on the squatter.

There are three special cases, in which despite opposition/objection, the adverse possessor may succeed n registration. They are:

{1} where it would be “unconscionable because of equity of estoppel” for the registered proprietor to seek to dispose of the applicant the circumstances are such “that the applicant ought to be registered as proprietor” of the estate in question.

{2} where the applicant is entitled “for some other reason” {eg under an uncompleted contract of purchase} to be registered as proprietor

{3} reasonable mistake as to boundary


I strongly recommend that adverse possession should be abolished in Nigeria.

The law is robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is anachronistic, outdated, reprehensible and encouraging land theft or robbery. Title to land by adverse possessions need legislative rethinking and total overhauling in Nigeria. If we must retain it in our statute book, I recommend the English model, which is being followed in Hong Kong with its check and balances. Resulting Trust  There is yet another problem. It is the doctrine of resulting trust.

More specifically, the specie of the resulting trust known as purchase price resulting trust or contribution to the purchase price resulting trust. The beneficial interest in any property belongs to the person who provides the purchase price or to the extent of his contribution to the purchase price. The person in whose name documents of the title is written is holding the land in resulting trust for the person who paid the purchase price


Establishment of Land Commission

The first solution, which is critical is the establishment of the Land Commission in the state. The problem is more than what a task force can handle. The land Commission will be set up by a statute, with a Chairman and a Secretary. The government will determine the composition. The commission will have its investigators and prosecutors. The police should not be involved in this at all. This is because some of the bad eggs in the police are part of the problems.

We can cite EFCC and ICPC as examples. When the police seemingly cannot handle cases of corruption, economic and financial, Federal Government set up these two bodies. At least in the fight against corruption, the bodies have done far better than the police. The problem of security to land and consequences demand these drastic measures. The punishment should range from 10 years to twenty-one years with no option of fine. The commission will flush out from the state, land grabbers and fraudulent omo oniles


I have suggested a total overhauling of this concept. I suggest in this paper the Singaporean method. That is to abolish it. Such title could be dealt with under the equitable maxim of latches and acquiescence, the rule in Awo v Cookey Gam or the Islamic jurisprudence of Hausa with so many exceptions. If we must retain it we should adopt the English model with so many checks and balances


This is the final solution. Is it not strange that in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, some part of Yaba and few other places, there is no problem of insecurity of title to land. In those places, all lands are titled by the government. It creates indefeasibility of title to land. Government-issued Land Certificate and guarantee the title of the land. Apart for a few instances, the title is safe. I can give to the government a position paper on how this will work. It will involve the office of Surveyor-General, Ministry of Justice, Land Bureau and Physical planning. Because it is going to be capital intensive, it can be done in stages.

Housing Deficit

Finally, there is need to streamline and incorporate into a legislation or two, legislation on land matters in the nature of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 in the state, though this is an aside. Law Reform Commission in the state should be able to handle this.

Hitherto, there were different statutes on corporate matters. There was Companies Act of 1968, there were laws dealing with firms and enterprises as well as incorporated trustees. With the promulgation of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, all these laws were brought together under one legislation. Nigeria legislation on land are too many, scattered and uncoordinated

There is a need to consolidate these arrays of laws on land in the state in the nature of Companies and Allied Matters Act, where major legislation on corporate matters are put together under one enactment. It might be necessary to have similar enactment in property laws in Lagos State.

Source: vanguardngr

Society Without Scholars And Thinkers Is A Dangerous Society, Says Renowned Sociologist

KUALA LUMPUR: A society dominated by scientists and engineers will lack moral compass as science can scientifically and systematically study certain aspects of reality, but it does not have the ability to tell an individual whether something is right or wrong, ethical or otherwise, evil or good.

Sociologist Prof Dr Syed Farid Alatas from the National University of Singapore said that a society without scholars and thinkers in fields such as literature is a dangerous society.

Science, Syed Farid said, is not able to give a person an ethical position on any matter.

“This can only come from philosophies, ethical system, religion and literature is a means of conveying that ethical or moral standpoint,” he told NSTP.

Pointing out examples of earlier tradition, such as the Malay hikayat (tales) or syair (lyrical poems), Syed Farid said these were literary means of conveying what is right and what is wrong.

The recent debate with regard to choosing between literature and science came about when Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin remarked that many Malays love literature because it is easy to pass, saying they should instead be doing engineering and science.

On Friday, in an immediate response to a news article on Daim’s comments, Syed Farid wrote on Facebook that the correct attitude is that all fields in the arts and sciences should be cultivated by the Malays and all Malaysians. He pointed out that literature should not be belittled.

“It is exceedingly difficult to be good in literature or to be a scholar of literature,” he wrote.

NSTP reached out to the author of ‘Applying Ibn Khaldun: The Recovery of a Lost Tradition in Sociology’ to get a clearer insight on why literature has a negative perception attached to it, something he agreed has been a problem for decades.

“There is an overal perception, for decades, that the science stream is superior than the arts stream,” he said.

Some students too, he agreed, ended up being pushed in the direction of science, eventhough they are interested in literature, due to peer pressure and encouragement from parents, noting that this is a negative trend.

Touching on Daim’s comments specifically, Syed Farid said while he is not sure if the former finance minister is simply trying to encourage more Malays to study science and engineering, he remarked that the call should not be made while denigrating humanities and social sciences.

“Regardless of what he actually meant, the point is there is a negative impression given to literature and it’s not healthy.

“People should not be made to feel that engineering or other sciences are superior to literature and other humanities. No serious scholar or educator would make that claim,” he said, adding that all great civilisations produced writers, poets and people of learning in various fields related to literature and humanities.

On the assumption that literature is easy to pass, Syed Farid said simply passing subjects, applies to all fields.

“If you want to be mediocre in literature, you can pass. Same thing goes for other fields. I think it comes from a lack of knowledge of what literature is, some people think it is simply about reading, understanding a novel or  a poem.

“It is far easier to understand a novel than it is to understand partial deferential equation,” he said, adding that the truth is that literature is rather complex as it is not just about reading but also interpreting as well as understanding literary devices.

When asked what can be done to change this mindset that literature is an easy option as compared to the sciences, Syed Farid said there has to be a revamp of the education system in which equal emphasis is given to all areas, especially in the younger stages of a student’s life.

“It is necessary that students who are science inclined be introduced properly to the arts and humanities and vice versa.

“It is important that both understand the logic of the other and appreciate the kinds of truth. Arts and sciences produce different kinds of truth,” he said.

Citing an example of elucidating the rate of poverty in a village, Syed Farid said this can be done both using science and arts.

“You can use science, for instance economics and statistics, to study the rate of poverty in a village.

“You can also illustrate the poverty in a village through poem or painting,” he said, adding that one can’t be considered superior to the other as knowledge can be gained through both.

“An all rounded person will have both abilities, not just the ability to understand cold hard facts but also to empathize, to feel, to have emotions, these are important skills,” he said.

Source: nst

Experts Urge Adaptive Actions on Climate Change

Environmentalists have called for adaptive response to global warming in order to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climate change.

According to them, adaptation is urgent and indispensable to safeguard development gains and address the needs of the poor and the vulnerable.

The experts, who spoke at the 2019 Society for Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Mitigation (SETPOM) International Conference and Fellows Award Conferment in Lagos, include, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Managing Director of Unilag Consult and Professor of Ecotoxicology, Adebayo Otitoloju, Head, Local Performance and Environment, Dangote Cement Plc, Tukur Lawal, SETPOM President, Dr. Funmilayo Doherty, among others.

Leading the call at the Conference theme: “ Climate Change Adaptation, Emerging Environmental Issues, and Sustainability, Dr. Doherty, noted that adaptation measures must be planned in advance or put in place spontaneously in response to local pressure.

According to her, climate change adaptation is an issue of global concern and has over the last decade begun in earnest to prepare for rising seas, higher temperatures, worsening droughts, and other impacts.

Such adaptation measures, she said, include, large scale infrastructure changes like building defences to protect against sea level rise or improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures, building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes as well as behavioural shifts such as using less water, adopting renewal energy, good waste disposal practice and planting more trees.

Others are using scarce water resources more efficiently, developing drought – tolerant crops, farmers planting different crops and choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.

Dr. Doherty stressed that climate change adaptation will help individuals, communities, organisations and natural systems to deal with those consequences of climate change that cannot be avoided.

The SETPOM president, who noted the recent ugly incidence of flood in Lagos, said adaptation is as a shared responsibility, stressing the need for governments at all levels, businesses, households, and individuals to play complementary roles.

She further highlighted that the introduction of SETPOM Green Essay Competition and Photo contest on Environment for Secondary Schools as well as SETPOM Environment Guard Club were meant to get the younger generation involved in the issue of mitigation and adaptation responses to the climate change challenges.

For Prof Otitoloju, there is a need for stakeholders to come together in a forum like this to share ideas and present their research findings to better our lives.

He stressed that climate change is important thing that one needs to adapt because of the rising water levels, places underwater, desertification, and flooding issues.

A representative of the Vice-chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof Sylvester Ogbogu, stressed the need for all to be involved in environmental issues by looking at those things that make life unconducive and inhabitable.

The Vice-Chancellor called for collective support for SETPOM in its bid to protect the environment, as Nigeria is a signatory to many environmental treaties and issues conceived to support global and national efforts to protect the environment.

On his part, Lawal, a chemical engineer, called for synergy between the gown and the town to solve environmental challenges.

According to him, there are many companies that are looking for opportunities to better the lives of the people and the communities; hence institutions like the University of Lagos should not be depending on the public power supply when they could use waste to generate electricity in a sustainable manner.

He urged high institutions to be practical in tackling environmental challenges, while individuals, he said, should have stakes on the environment by looking at ways to minimize waste generation.

Source: Guardianng

Kaduna: Govt to give Subsidy on Land, Property Titles

The Kaduna State Geographic Information Service (KADGIS) has said‎ owners of land and property without titles will enjoy subsidy in obtaining titles under the Systematic Property Registration Programme (SPRP) in the state.

The Director General (DG) of KADGIS, Altine Jibril, said land owners would pay N5,000 (men) and N2,500  (women) under the programme.

Jibril ‎explained that with the launch of the programme, land and property holders could process and obtain titles on their property within 30 working days.

The DG said this at an event organised in the state by the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV). ‎Jibril said, “With these reforms, the state was ranked the first in Nigeria in the 2018 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index in terms of property registration. We strive to maintain this position through continued support and cooperation of professional bodies like NIESV.”

On the ongoing urban renewal project, she argued that it would make Kaduna a friendly home, a safe place to live in and that it would also promote the livelihoods of its citizens. The Chairman of NIESV in the state, Bunmi Ogundiya, said the event was to enlighten the public on issues concerning NIESV.

Source: Dailytrustng

Smart Cities to Drive Urbanisation – Kagame

The concept of Smart Cities will play a critical role in driving Africa’s urban revolution and urbanisation, President Paul Kagame has said.

Kagame was speaking in Doha, Qatar at the Smart City Expo organised to showcase the latest smart technologies and innovations advancing the urban future.

Kagame said that, with the African continent undergoing urbanisation, smart cities technologies can play a definitive role in developing cities that have a higher level of productivity.

“Africa is fortunate to be undergoing its urban revolution at this particular time, when smart cities technologies are evolving and maturing,” Kagame said.

The President said that, with urbanisation key to shaping investment, growth and human development, African countries cannot afford to leave its trends to chance hence adopting technologies.

“This wave of urbanisation is also occurring elsewhere in Africa. It represents a historic window of opportunity for investment, growth and human development. It also means that we have the opportunity to plan now and do things right. We cannot afford to leave urbanization to chance or go back and fix mistakes later, after costs and damages have already been incurred. This is where technology has a huge role to play,” Kagame said.

The rate of urbanisation has been found to have a direct impact on societies’ development.

Africa’s low rate of urbanisation has often been cited as among the reasons for the low levels of development.

“Urbanisation creates the conditions for more complex economies, powered by innovation and services. In short, urbanisation is a key step in any society’s pathway to prosperity. It is, therefore, no accident that Africa still has some of the world’s lowest rates of urbanisation,”

“This is among the factors, that have kept Africa from advancing as quickly as it should have, given our inherent advantages. However, the human geography of Africa is in a state of rapid change. The rate of growth of Africa’s cities is on average the highest in the world,” Kagame said.

Rwanda’s urbanisation rate is around 6 per cent a year, compared to the global average of around 2 per cent.

Kagame, however, said that for the technology and smart cities to have an impact on urbanisation and development, there has to be a deliberate effort to improve people’s welfare.

“Smart cities are about people not computers. The mission is not to invest in technology for its own sake, but to do so strategically, to make life measurably better for the people who live in our cities,” he said.

The changes and transformation are dependent on data collected from citizens hence the need to establish trust for stakeholders to remain open to the benefits of the approach.

“If we want our citizens and customers to remain open to the benefits of high-tech, cities, we need to be responsible with their data at every stage, from collection, to storage and usage. The public and private sectors must work closely together to foster the necessary environment of trust for smart cities to flourish,” he said.

Among ways Rwanda is embracing smart cities include; Wi-Fi in public transportation, cashless payment in public transport as well as availing essential public services, through the e-government platform called Irembo.

“Rwandans are also using mobile money applications to pay for water and electricity, as well as their taxes. Digital payment not only makes those services more accessible to consumers, it also reduces vectors for corruption,” the President said.

Kagame also welcomed the growing partnership efforts with the Middle Eastern Nation which will also see Rwanda host the annual Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award in December.

Source: allafrica

Landlords in Nigeria Can Demand $20,000 Rent Upfront

Finding a decent, affordable place to live is a common problem facing young people in many places. But in Nigeria’s booming commercial hub, Lagos, it is almost impossible as landlords demand a year’s rent in advance.

For two-bedroom apartments with electricity, close to the city’s main business district on Victoria Island, I was asked for between $11,000 (£8,600) and $22,000 upfront.

In general, middle-to-high-income housing can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $40,000 a year.

These are amounts of money that few people have available.

Also, there is a shortage of the type of small properties that people starting off in the rental market tend to prefer.

A new way of renting
The system of upfront payments suits landlords, but some innovations could start to help renters.

Bankole Oluwafemi, a young technology entrepreneur, has managed to secure a loft-style apartment on a serene residential street in Lekki – a fairly affluent neighbourhood. It is a step up from a house he shared with other young professionals.

Some people use informal lending networks to get the money – from parents, or saving while staying with relatives, and some firms offer their employees loans.

But Mr Oluwafemi managed to afford the place with the help of a digital rental site called Fibre.

The online platform allows users to rent properties with just a few clicks.

Tenants are given the option of paying monthly or quarterly, which may not seem extraordinary in many parts of the world, but is a potential market-changer here.

After Mr Oluwafemi finished his university degree, he moved to Lagos in 2011, but he was unable to come up with the two years’ rent in advance that landlords at that time were allowed to demand.

Unable to find an affordable apartment in a habitable condition, he slept on the floor of a room with 10 other people.

When he later co-founded a technology company, he decided to sleep in his office to avoid renting a home and the associated costs.

‘We take nothing for granted’
“Living in Lagos requires you to not just be a tenant, but in many respects you’re your own local government providing your own infrastructure,” Mr Oluwafemi explains, laughing.

He is referring to the fact that in addition to the cost of rent, many tenants are also expected to pay for their water and electricity, which can be difficult to organise and costly because of the fuel needed for generators.

“Fibre didn’t just come with the ability to pay monthly and the flexibility, these apartments come with a minimum standard of quality.

“People take these things for granted anywhere else in the world, but we live in Nigeria.”

Although the Nigerian government introduced legislation in 2011 limiting landlords’ rights to demand or receive more than one year’s rent from prospective tenants, it has proven difficult to enforce.

According to real estate analyst Dolapo Olumidire, Lagos is largely a landlord’s market.

“They have the authority to dictate what they want from tenants,” he says.

“They can say: ‘These are my terms. If you don’t like it go somewhere else.'”

Long waiting list
Demi Ademuson and Obinna Okwodu co-founded Fibre three years ago and partner with landlords and developers to offer good-quality housing.

Driven by the desire to introduce some ease and flexibility to renting for tenants, the platform challenges a system they say that is inhospitable to young people.

“It provides a really high barrier for people just to access housing,” Mr Okwodu says.

“If you think about how fundamental housing is, it doesn’t make sense that for something so fundamental you have to jump through so many hoops.”

With 200 clients renting properties and 5,000 people on its waiting list, Fibre’s work represents a tiny fraction of the market, but it does offer an alternative way forward.

They also recognise that they started off at the high end of the market, but are beginning to broaden their prospective customer base.

The concept is working, but Mr Okwodu says it was initially a challenge to persuade landlords to accept monthly payments.

The company takes full financial responsibility if tenants default on payments – a vital element of the service that has helped to win clients’ trust.

Landlords like lump sum payments
However, many landlords have no interest in receiving payments in monthly instalments.

Deborah Nicol-Omeruah, a real estate developer in Lagos, can see how receiving monthly payments could work for property owners with mortgages, but she prefers the current system.
“A lump sum allows you to use the money for major expenses. For example, if you have school fees to pay or you have a big holiday that you want to pay for.”

Importantly, Ms Nicol-Omeruah says, 12 months’ rent in advance reduces the risk of default.

“When you have a client paying each month, there’s the hassle of chasing them for payments. If they’re a tenant with a high risk of default you might be chasing them monthly.

“With the current system there’s only one point each year that you have to chase your tenant for payment.”

Fibre’s success has inspired other entrepreneurs to launch similar platforms, but they are still too small to make a major impact on the rental market.

Many people have no option but to share a room, or stay with relatives.

‘Eight-hour commute’
Television presenter Uche Okoronkwo stayed with an uncle in a suburb on the mainland when she first moved to Lagos.

However, her eight-hour daily commute from home to and from her job on the island – where many companies are based – was punishing.”Commuting between the mainland and island is hell. I woke up at four in the morning to get on an okada [motorbike taxi] to line up for a bus by 04:30 to arrive at work at eight.

“Then I would get home at 10 or 11 at night because if you don’t leave the island before four you’re stuck in traffic. It made no sense to continue doing that. There was no quality of life.”

Housing Deficit

Ms Okoronkwo decided to move to the island, but because of a lack of affordable property she rented a space known as a “boys’ quarters” or “BQ” – a small building within a compound containing a room and bathroom, which is traditionally used as a place for domestic staff.

“It was small and terrible,” she says. “The plumbing wasn’t good. There was no source of water. I had to buy a [water] tank and have it filled every month and then you relied on a generator for electricity.”


Cranes above buildings
Image captionThe high cost of land and construction is passed on to renters in Lagos
The real estate sector lacks quality control, according to industry analyst Mr Olumidire, who has noted only a few developers are willing to invest the amount required to ensure a high standard of construction is met.

Despite this, he is excited to see a growing number of developers constructing one and two-bedroom apartments for young professionals.

He says this will address the imbalance between what consumers are demanding and the supply on the market.

Moreover, as more companies similar to Fibre launch in Nigeria, they are gradually breaking down the barriers to rent.

These online platforms are currently operating on a small scale, but as they grow they have the potential to disrupt the rental market, providing a smoother path to accessing property.

Source: BBC

Morocco Builds First Solar-Powered Village In Africa For Over 50 People in 20 homes

Morocco has inaugurated the first village, which is fully powered by solar energy in Africa.

Id Mjahdi – the village – is located near Essaouira, around 190km to the west of Marrakech.

The village is not connected to the power grid of the National Office for Electricity. It is completely energy self-sufficient with all of the village’s power derived from 32 photovoltaic solar panels, generating 8.32Kw of electricity.

The village houses more than 50 people and the power station powers around 20 homes with water heaters, ovens and street lights. The electricity network has a battery, storing electricity for use outside daylight hours, according to reports.

The town facilities include an educational center, a water tower, a public hammam – a steam room where people go to clean themselves and an argan workshop which offers jobs for the locals.

Providing education for children aged between four and six, as well as basic literacy for adults in the village, the educational center has been equipped with two classrooms, a sports field, and a playground.

Through the creation of the solar village housing the solar-powered educational complex, the project aims to provide water for the village’s young girls, contribute to the population’s education and awareness of solar energy, whilst ensuring the village independence in electricity.

It also aims to train and development of local Moroccan skills in the photovoltaic installations sector.

“Projects like these reduce social disparities, and introduce comfort and modernity to small villages,” a former minister of education, Rachid Belmokhtar said.

He noted that as part of the Kingdom’s aims to invest more in sustainable development and renewable energy, the project which is a pilot could be replicated in various regions of the country.

Earlier in the year, Morocco’s National Library in Rabat also inaugurated a solar power plant which will provide the library with up to 40 per cent of its energy needs and reinforce its commitment to clean energy.

However, the 100% solar–powered village project was made possible by the Moroccan ministry of energy and partners like the Essaouira’s local authorities, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN), Moroccan NGO Cluster Solaire, and French businesses Intermarche and Le Petit Olivier.

Demand for electricity in the north African nation has constantly increased, by an average of 6-7% per year over the last 25 years with Morocco making astonishing progress to electrify the whole country.

Source: face2faceafrica

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