In an interview with Business year, the managing Director of Dutum Construction was asked questions on affordable housing in Nigeria and the shortage of skilled labor. He had this to say:
What challenges have you encountered in your operations, particularly concerning shortages of skilled labor?
TEMITOPE RUNSEWE – We are addressing the shortage of skilled labor in two ways. First, we are partnering with existing agencies and private companies that have decided to train construction talent specifically in Lagos. The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has an arm focused on the construction industry, and it trains artisans as skilled labor. The second approach, or the medium-term plan, is setting up our own training institute. We want to train people to use for our projects and to send to other projects; ultimately, the objective is to strengthen the sector. The other challenge is that the industry has different components. On the construction side, and particularly as largely a government contractor, one of our greatest challenges is funding projects. This is a problem because it means we spend longer on projects because we do not have access to funds to execute the projects quickly and on time.
What trends on affordable housing are present outside of Lagos?
TEMITOPE RUNSEWE – Lagos is not representative of the rest of the country. It is like a mini country, as it runs almost without the rest of the Nigeria. In most other parts of the country, cities still need a great deal of development, but these are macroeconomic issues. We are working on a project where we need to deliver houses below NGN5 million. Outside of Lagos and Abuja, there is low economic purchasing power. In other states, if a developer wants to build houses that people can buy, they must be affordable. In some cases, the state government needs to provide the land and infrastructure within the city or estate so that the costs of construction will be lower. If they are unable to provide this, it is almost impossible to deliver houses at those prices. Other places are still struggling to properly develop their cities, so the outskirts are presently for agriculture activities. There is still great room for development in most Nigerian cities but the economy needs to grow.