By SUNDAY ABBA, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Africa’s leading housing advocate institution, Shelter Afrique, to brace up in the task of ensuring affordable housing for all citizens of African nations.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, gave the charge while declaring open the 42nd Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the Shelter Afrique with the theme: “Political Economy In The Built Environment” in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking in the capacity of Guest of Honour, Buhari said, “As a continental institution, committed to making positive impacts on the built environment in Africa, it will be in your best interest to
leverage on the outcome of the 42nd AGM stroke symposium to set up stronger plans for future intervention projects or investment programmes in concerned nations.
”In our capacity as a Frontline shareholder and shareholder, Nigeria looks for a more prosperous future for shelter. Now is the time to step over current global financial constraints, corporate management set-bacls and thereby repositioning this company into a formidable agent of change for the built environment of African nations as you proceed with this meeting.”
Following a brief welcome address by the outgoing AGM chairman and Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Republic of Zimbabwe, Daniel Garwe, Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who is assuming the chairmanship of Shelter Afrique’s AGM for the second time in about 8 years as the Buhari’s administration winds down, the first being in 2016 shortly after his inauguration for the first term as Minister, said between then and now, the company had been revived and repositioned to play its role of fighting housing deficit in Africa to a close.
Fashola said, “It’s almost eight years now When I first took office, as Chairman of the AGM and I received our brothers and sisters across the great African continent. We did so under the banner and brand of Shelter Afrique by which we are bound together on a sheer journey of African patriotism to reduce inequality among our people by making shelter accessible, affordable, and dignified as our founding fathers intended when they created this company.
“Today, I feel very proud to say that Shelter Afrique that hosts you this morning is a much stronger company, a better version of what I inherited in 2016.
“By the collective action of our member states and development partners, we’ve surmounted very difficult times, some of which threatened the existence of the company at one time, that we were tempted to go back to the African Union and tell them to wind down this company.
“Between the 2016 AGM which was the 35th and this year’s AGM which is the 42nd, Nigeria has made contributions of about US$5.9 in 2017, US$9.392 in 2020, US$7,161 in 22, making a total sum of US$22,503,144. This has brought Nigeria’s shareholding in the company to 16.84 per cent, now valued at US_30,784,961.
“For a company that was struggling for funding in 2016, this was a much needed investment of life saving character. And Nigeria was not alone on this, other members responded to the contribution, but Nigeria provided some leadership.”
He said beyond finance, Nigeria also provided the most important human capital, stressing that the company is much better than he met it as he announced an increasing participation of private sector players.
Earlier in his welcome address, the managing director, Shelter Afrique, Mr Thiemo-Habib Hann, gave an insight into the week long event and was optimistic that the outcome of the discussions at the symposium would help address the challenges on the path of achieving the mandate of the company.
He said, “We expect to leave the symposium having defined the political, social, and economic strategies needed to enhance Africa’s attainment of the affordable and urban development targets.”
Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Shelter Afrique, Dr Chil Akporji, while welcoming participants earlier, expressed gratitude to African nations, particularly the Nigerian government, for their continued support as she reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to the vision of decent and affordable housing in Africa.
Highlight of the opening ceremony was was the stage presentation of gift to Mr President on behalf of Shelter Afrique by the chairperson, Board of Directors in appreciation of Nigeria’s commitment to the aspirations of the institution under his leadership.