A NEW deal has been sealed between a cement firm, Messrs United Cement Company of Nigeria (UNICEM) and microfinance bank for the building of 5,000 new housing units in the country.
The agreement between UNICEM through its shareholder Lafarge in collaboration with French Development Agency (AFG) provides a long-term credit line of N1 billion to LAPO Microfinance Bank for the initiative.
This innovative solution will be extended to other states in the South South and South East region in the nearest future. Currently, the UNICEM’s Managing Director, Mr. Olivier Lenoir, said the project tagged ‘Easy Home’, was aimed at addressing Nigeria’s huge housing deficit of 17million and over 5,000 Nigerians are expected to benefit from the project Lenoir who said this last week in Calabar during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), that the project ‘is in line with our vision of ‘building a better future and commitment to contributing to addressing the situation that UNICEM has launched the ‘Easy home’ affordable housing scheme partnering LAPO Microfinance Bank’.
He disclosed that the proposed housing project “has the support of one of our shareholders, Lafarge France. As you may be aware, Nigeria has a huge housing deficit estimated at 17million.
“It is our believe that this project will afford low and middle income earners access to low interest rates loans to have their own homes.
We are offering the entire people of Cross River State and its environs an opportunity to build their dream home. This initiative is company’s contribution in solving the over 17 million housing deficit”.
Lenoir pointed out that UNICEM, being a leading manufacturer of cement, will provide its technical expertise to ‘Easy home’ residents through guidance on building plans, construction, access to quality cement and other building materials.
On his part, the Managing Director of LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, Godwin Ehigiamuse, said that the project will go a long way to support individual home builders, especially the low and middle income earners.
According to Ehigiamuse, who was represented by the Bank’s Executive Director, Corporate Planning, Mrs. Josephine Nwachukwu, said in order to access the facility, prospective beneficiary must be able to make a minimum contribution of 10per cent of total construction cost.
Other criteria include; being either a self-employed person, salary earner or engaged in any income generating activity able to sustain the repayment, in possession of a landed property in Calabar as well as the provision of two guarantors.
He explained that the project has economic social as well as environmental impact on our clients. We are aware that houses for low-income earners are not just shelter but are equally locations for their economic activities.
The ceremony which was witnessed by a representative of Lafarge France, Mr. Aurelien Boyer, among others, will have great impact on all social indicators as experienced in other states were we started.
SOURCE: The Guardian (Nigeria)
Apr 23, 2010 26
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