UPDC Plc, Nigeria’s foremost property development, management and investment company, has explored pathways to solving the various challenges and maximizing opportunities being created in Nigeria’s booming but volatile real estate sector at a summit to mark its 25th Anniversary.
Tagged, ‘Housing Development Imperatives for Nigeria; Prospects and Challenges’, the summit provided an outlook of the real estate industry as the country steers towards the general elections in 2023. Prominent speakers include Frank Okosun, Senior Partner, Knight Frank Nigeria; Ann Ribu, Head of Property (Nigeria & West Africa), Standard Chartered Bank; Alan Davies, Managing Director, Cubitt Architects; Olutomi Sangowawa, Surveyor-General, Lagos State; Wole Oshin, Chairman, UPDC Plc and Founder, Custodian Investment Plc; and Odunayo Ojo, Chief Executive Officer, UPDC Plc.
The chairman, Wole Oshin, explored the recent history of the company. According to the chairman, UPDC raised N16 billion in a rights issue in June 2020, and has continued to restructure after the recapitalization. Also in 2020, the facility division of the company became a separate business; UPDC facilities Management ltd. In 2021, Custodian investment ltd became the major shareholder in UPDC. The company has experienced a turnaround since then, increasing efficiency and expanding its business.
“As UPDC shifts from recapitalization to maximizing growth and opportunities, we continue to look forward, focusing on achieving profitability in the short to medium term, embarking on projects that increase profit and expand the company’s impact,” Mr Oshin said.
The CEO, Odunayo Ojo noted that “UPDC is the first real estate company to have been listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and offers the most diversified portfolio of residential, commercial, retail and hospitality assets.”
He also noted that UPDC’s Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), a vehicle that offers opportunities for members of the public to contribute into an investment pool, is the largest real estate investment trust in Africa.
During the panel session, real estate expert, Frank Okosun, spoke on the serious housing deficit in Nigeria, identifying some of the major challenges in the sector. These include the high cost of building materials, poor mortgage penetration and problems with land administration.
“There is a significant gap between the stock we have and the quality of houses that meet international standards as well as affordable ones,” said Mr. Okosun.
“Property ownership in Nigeria is still an elitist engagement. There should be a strategy for the big real estate firms to make home ownership affordable for lower income earners,” he added
Renowned architect, Alan Davies, spoke about trends in the housing sector. He noted that Nigeria’s rising young population has led to higher demand in the 1 room and 2 room apartments. He also noted the return to environmentally responsible design in building.
“It is unfortunate that everything comes down to cost; not just the cost of building but also of maintenance. Reducing these costs is more critical than ever.” Mr. Alan said.
“Growth and access to finance for real estate projects will increasingly depend on creativity, innovation and adoption of technology amongst other factors. Today, there are global funds available for sustainability-oriented projects that meet Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals,” said banker, Ann Ribu, who spoke on financing. Ribu noted the various opportunities currently available for real estate financing in the country. She called for collaborations across various players in the value chain, with a strong emphasis on sustainability.
Surveyor-General of Lagos State, Olutomi Sangowawa, spoke on the legal and political framework for developing property. He also examined how Public-Private partnerships (PPP) can help solve the mass housing challenges.
UPDC is an institutional property company, founded in 1997, and listed on the NSE in 1998. UPDC has a solid track record in the acquisition, development, sale and management of a diverse mix of commercial, residential, hospitality and retail assets across Nigeria. After 25 years in existence, UPDC has developed over 1,000 residential units, a large retail mall, 35 estates under management, and N22 billion in total assets.