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European firms benefitting from Nigeria's housing deficit

Because of Nigeria's rapidly growing economy, new construction projects are being signed off at an impressive rate. However, its many years as a developing country have left it with some severe deficits in certain areas. One of these is housing, and the nation is working hard to provide its citizens with adequate places to live.

It's estimated that up to 108 million Nigerians are in need of housing. With an average family size of six, this equates to as much as 18 million units that need to be constructed in the country, or even more if growing populations are factored in. Luckily, plenty of action is being taken to alleviate this problem.

This is proving beneficial to European firms, as they are able to break into this market by providing both construction work and building materials, as well as technology that makes the task of creating a building cheaper and easier. This in turn will further boost the construction industry.

This has been seen recently with the announcement that an Irish firm is going to be providing Nigeria with modular housing. Many European firms have the expertise and technology needed to help the African nation solve its housing crisis, which is sure to make it a lucrative market.


Modular housing in Calabar

A firm based in Galway, Ireland, is finalising talks to construct a new factory in Nigeria. Affordable Building Concepts intends to construct as many as 5,000 homes in the Cross River State region, near Calabar. The development is being referred to as 'Calas Vegas', and is one of three urban centres planned for the area.

Affordable Building Concepts plans to create three different types of modular home for Nigeria. These three 'grades' will all be modular, meaning the individual pieces will be constructed at the proposed factory then erected on-site. This will reduce the time it takes to build the house to just three days.

This is not a certainty yet, but both parties are keen for it to go ahead. Ben Ayade, the governor of Cross River State, visited Ireland recently as part of a trade delegation and met with Desmond Cullinane, Affordable Building Concepts' chairman. The two are currently in discussions to try to get the project going.

"Nothing has been concluded at this stage," said Mr Cullinane. "But they came to see what we had to offer and they liked it. It would be a major investment, but nothing is decided yet."

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LafargeHolcim boosts the construction market

Back in July, Lafarge and Holcim - two of the world's largest construction materials companies, based out of France and Switzerland - merged to form LafargeHolcim. Both firms were already major players in the Nigerian cement market. However, now they look set to make major changes in the country's construction industry.

According to Vincent Nwani, Nigerian economist and leading policy analyst, LafargeHolcim has already boosted the country's construction industry significantly through providing new technology and building methods along with its materials. This has reduced costs and improved efficiency for Nigerian firms, and made it easier for foreign contractors to enter the market.
Now, Mr Nwani believes the firm will continue this trend with mutually beneficial investments in Nigerian construction projects. This direct investment will allow LafargeHolcim to sell more building materials, while also leading to more firms being able to work in the country. This would also help to solve Nigeria's housing crisis by providing the nation with more homes.

To find out more about the Nigerian construction industry, visit AfricaBuild Lagos.

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