Funke Otti is the President, CTSR Group, a company in Real Estate and Construction. In this interview she talked about challenges in the Nigeria housing sector and how precast concrete can bridge housing deficit in the country.
Good day ma, can I meet you?
I am Funke Otti, the President, CTSR group. The group is into Real Estate and Construction.
There are lot of challenges in the Nigeria Real Estate and Construction industry. Could you please identify them?
There are series of challenges, the issue of land is one, proper funding is another problem facing us. For instance, you can’t go to a commercial bank to take a loan and say you are going into real estate and we say we want to bring down housing deficit.
What is the way out to some of these challenges?
Government should provide fund for the real people, because when government come up with some of this bailout for the housing sector, it ended in the hands of wrong people. Everyone comes up to say we can build but, sin government build 1004, no one have been able to replicate 1004, but I can confirm to you that our group can replicate that if we have the right seize of land, it is a project that can be done within a year with that same land space.
You can build 1004 estate within a year, how do you intend doing that?
We want to introduce a new technology eventhough the technology is not new to the world. We know we have several challenges in the country ranging from power, infrastructure but the one that concern us is housing eventhough, the federal government said there is a deficit in housing and we know we have a deficit of about 18m and we have been in construction for a while, we started with wood work and furniture manufacturing and we went into construction and we found that for us to be able to compete globally, we have to employ technology which is why Africa is lagging behind so we decided and do what others are doing, we need to fine out how this things are done in other clime.
For instance, in Europe, US or Asia we apply technology through construction so we did research and out of what was available in the market because of our climate, environment and our culture, we prefer concrete unlike in the US where we use wood and all sort of material, the same applied to Europe but for us it is not an option, everybody build with concrete but in the traditional and conventional world, doing brick and mortal -block- is the way.
What is this technology called? And is it new to Nigeria?
This particular technology is not new to the world but it is new to Africa. it is called precast concrete (PC). Precast concrete is a construction product produced by casting concrete in the factory transported to the job site and then it became a roof over our head so that is the technology that we intent to introduce. The technology is like industralising construction that is, we set up an industry and we set up a factory, the equipment handles everything and it is moved to site for setting up.
You are introducing a new technology, have you surveyed the market to ensure acceptability?
it is not about acceptance of the technology or not. Several years ago, Dolphin estate was built using a similar technology even in a cruder way. it is not about acceptance now but about the need to technologically bridge our housing deficit. for instance, it is said that we have a shortfall of over 18m. we are talking about people have roof over their head, what we are doing is sort of a social responsibility.
What’s the difference between Precast Concrete and conventional Bricks and mortal?
It is very difficult difficult spot the difference, if the building we are sitting in now is Precast or brick and mortar, it will be difficult spotting the difference. Also, what the common man want is how to have roof over his head.
Precast concrete will bring down cost and we believe we can mass produce homes using this technology if we continue to build the way we are doing now, in the next 20 years, we may be unable to have building for all.
However, despite the shortage, there is no department that will say it invented a particular machine to produce things that we need to bring down the cost of housing, we dont have anything on ground , its like saying if we bring solar, will Nigerians be interested in it but people are only interested in getting power, no one cares to know how the power gets there whether from the moon or supplying it from the ocean, people just want to have power so i think what we need to address is to inform people about the technology. The asians were smart enough to copy things from Europe and government kept saying transfer of technology from when i was in school and government keep saying it until today but i have never seen where anyone will transfer anything they work so hard to developed. we did not understand it because we have not tried enough to look at ourselves to say this is our needs and how do we begin to address the needs.
But, in our group, what we have done is to say there is a challenge in the housing sector and we may not be able to find a solution to all the problem we are having but there is a poblem and there is need to find a solution and in finding a solution, we want to apply the best available technology that will be suitable to our climate, environment and acceptable to the people that will use it. we wont bring in a technology that when Nigerians do a knock on your wall and they hear a hallowed sound but like i said, it is pure concrete and because it is done using equipment, we are sure of the standard. it is something that if you apply, we have stanarddisd output.
What are the benefits of the technology to bricks and mortar?
This technology saves like 70% of time in construction, it means if you are to construct building that takes 42 months using the conventional system, you probably will be spending like three months to complete the projects. off course , it will take us traditional way of doing foundation but when you know construction when you have to go several floors, when you do the deck, you have to wait 21 days to remove the woods but all of that will be reduced because they are all cast in the factory, it goes into the curing unit and within seven hours, all the panels are ready to be used.
How cost effective is Precast Concrete?
well, to set up a factory because it is new here is expensive, setting up the factory and getting the equipment especially with the rate of US dollars was part of what slow us down because it should have been started two years go.
The initial cost outlay is high but if we say it is high and we won’t do it then we get it right. PC saves money and time. if you borrow money from the bank, you will appreciate what it is and on the overall, we save 25-30% if we compare to conventional construction because we will cut down waste, curb pilfering when we look at wastages. The technology cut down wastage by 30%
How safe is Precast Concrete ?
We do not having earthquake in the country but the buiding are not only safe but protected. They are tested in the factory and seen to be earthquake resistant. This particular technology is an industrialized integrated building system and it adopt world most advance precast technology and what is called the BIM platform so by optimising the research, design and manufacturing system construction system, the material system and the product system, the quality is improved, time energy and cost can be saved. through standardization and modernization, we adopted a flexible production line to produce precast concrete which can reduce the labour and shorten production period while ensuring production quality and efficiency. the system used as well provide water profing for the walls because the wall are drilled with polythelene cement which is flexible and durable. it is easy to form. The doors and the window can be installed at the factory or site, it saves times and give you precision finish at the end of the day.