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Sunday, May 12, 2013

REFLECTIONS ON KANO’S REAL ESTATE POTENTIALS



    
     With a population of over ten million people, Kano state going by the last national census is the most populous state in the country. The demand for shelter here is enormous looking at this large population and the meager resources at the disposal of the state who in many other states in the country participate in the building of houses. The capacity of the state government to provide shelter for most of it people is, therefore, constraint by this vast demand for shelter occasioned by huge population of the city. The spread of unregulated shanty neighborhoods around the outskirt of the city is the natural response in situations where the authorities fail to do what is expected of them. These fast developing areas popularly called by locals as Awon Igiya can be found in all the major axis of the city and are cheaper to develop. In a typical Awon Igiya the streets are very narrow and uneven, building standard unregulated, houses crowded, sanitary condition not very good, schools overcrowded, and poverty wide spread. But, outside of these areas there are very good neighborhoods populated by a lot of middle income family with better accommodations. The transformation agenda of the current administration in the state make one very hopeful of the future potentials of the ancient city. Possession of one own house is one of the most fundamental desires of an average family any where around the world. In developed economies such as the United States there exist a very sophisticated mortgage finance system that help ordinary citizens finance their life time desire. But, such a system does not exist in Nigeria as at today; what we have is a collection of small actors from the private sector. Thus, the responsibility of financing the housing revolution is left on the shoulders of various governments and individual people savings.
    Let start with the building of new roads and expansion of existing one all around the city; the expansion of the main roads that serve as links between the city and other parts of the country is commendable. When completed these projects will substantially reduces the congestion people coming into the city or going outside of it are facing on daily basis. This is to be achieved by converting all these two lanes major roads into three lanes; the work on which has reached an advance stage. The building of Flyovers by both the federal and state governments in various strategic parts of the city apart from decongesting these locations will attract outsiders to the city as it become more beautiful and orderly. As at last count there are about four flyovers under way in the city that cost government billions of Naira. The modernization of roads all around the city is one initiative that has the capacity to turn the city into a modern business centre that can compete with any other on the continent. But, modernization of roads should not only be restricted to areas populated by the rich or along the major roads as many roads in areas populated by the less privilege need to be tarred and modernized, too. The caving out of new roads and expansion of the existing ones both in the ancient city and its surroundings areas should be made a priority.  The construction of western bye pass, despite it significant to the economy of the city, has slow down; but the many that are affected by the federal government in ability to complete the work are not only restricted those that are living in the city, but also those residing in neighboring capitals such as Katsina.
     Nassarawa GRA that forms the wealthy neighborhood of the city remains the most expensive real estate location in the state capital. It has some of the most expensive real estate property in the North, outside of Abuja. The current street lighting, tiling and other beautification of the current administration will certainly add value to properties located there. The fact that government house is located there cemented the central position of Nassarawa GRA as the elite location of choice. Foreign expatriates resident in the city prefer Nassarawa to any other location in the state, because of it security, well laid roads, and proximity to all the major commercial and administrative parts of the state. The number of good hotels, guest palaces, high end malls, and good private schools around the area, testify to the unique position of Nassarawa in the state capital. Other parts of the state such as Hotoro GRA, Sharada, Badawa layout, areas around BUK road, part of Yan’Kaba, though not as plushy as Nassarawa, form what most see as fast rising upper middle class neighborhoods. The development of gardens that formerly seat idle into both a resting place and a restaurant, increase the attraction of Nassarawa GRA to the rich who are badly in need of good recreation places. It is these factors and some others that explain the reason why an average plot of land in the heart of Nassarawa GRA cost hundreds of millions of Naira.
     The development of modern cities by Kwankwaso administration at three different locations in the state capital further add to the attraction of real estate market in Kano to players in the field. These according it planners and what I have seen on the ground there will really transform home ownership in the state capital; putting Kano at par with other high end real estate locations in the country. But, there is yet to be the much needed enthusiasm on the part of the private sector into building new cities or developing new layouts as is seen in places such as Abuja and Lagos. The participation of primary mortgage institutions in financing building of new estates is needed here if the state government is to realize it agenda in this area. Hence, the need for the state government to invite private sector players to invest in the building of new Kano city, as state government alone cannot shoulder this enormous responsibility. The creation and building of commercial zones cannot be overemphasized here if Kano is to retain it place as the commercial nerve of central and Western Sudan. Investors are not only looking for residential areas to put there money, but good commercial real estate investment opportunities. Currently commercial real estate properties at Trade fair complex and farm centre area have seen a boost in the number of plots that are being developed. Here, too, credit should go to the current administration in given out deadline to plot owners in these location for them to build their plots or their licenses be revoked by the state government. The rebuilding of the road network at farm centre commercial real estate area will help put the location on the map of major commercial real estate centres in the country.