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NAHB to Train Nigeria Architects, Estate Developers

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a trade association associated with the residential construction industry will undertake training for architects and real estate developers in Lagos late this year. Please help me understand. How does NAHB train architects and developers?

In the United States of America, the professional association for the practice of architecture is the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Its members are licensed through states. AIA does not train architects; colleges and universities do. So, how can a trade association like NAHB, which is not accredited to offer architectural training, be training architects in Nigeria? Some associations are taking advantage of the ignorance in Nigeria and Nigerians who are penchant for everything foreign step up and pay up.

In US, there is no special licensing and training to become a real estate developer. A real estate developer puts together a deal hiring an architect, land planner, arranging and obtaining financing, and selling the products at price points suited/affordable to the target market. It may involve obtaining financial incentives from a local government, state, or federal for a particular housing product due to benefits that accrue to low income families using tax credits or other incentives. Such developers are restricted as to what rent they can charge based on the median income level of a particular zip code in that city. There is no special training or education to become a real estate developer. But given Nigerians’ desire to denote their knowledge and experience on some paper certification or qualification, it is no surprise NAHB may have discovered ‘gold’ stepping in to offer bogus training programs just to give Nigerians a paper. Awful.

The lead instructor, Tom Stephani, president of Stephani Enterprises LLC and Custom Construction Concepts Inc has no collateral value to offer in terms of challenges facing housing delivery in Nigeria. His knowledge of housing development in US does not have cross border value in Nigeria. The housing challenges in Nigeria are due to the government’s limited involvement with effective financing structures and incentives to achieve a critical mass in the sector. Lace that with the fact that Nigeria’s financial institutions are not well endowed on long term financing, have no secondary market for mortgages, and lack the use of other instruments to gain momentum, and this compounds the situation.

NAHB is a trade association and not every US state may accept its educational programs for continuing education for architects. NAHB has to apply to each state so anyone attending their training can claim CE – the continuing education credit towards recertification.

With challenges on land ownership, limited credit facilities and legal issues, how will NAHB cure the deficiencies? In housing development, both hard and soft resources have to be in place before Nigeria can see significant gain in the sector. US NAHB is definitely not the association equipped intellectually to help Nigeria. If anything, they are in to make a quick buck selling to ignorant Nigerians.

Back in the 90s, some Nigerians attended the NAHB convention in Dallas and I had a chance to meet them. It included an architect, developer/valuer, official from the federal housing and a lady builder from Lagos State housing department, among others. They confessed that there was nothing to gain or learn from NAHB given Nigeria’s unique financing and housing industry challenges. Nonetheless, the attendees enjoyed visiting Dallas and the allowance they got and of course, collected many brochures for proof of attendance and knowledge. Maybe there has been improvement to the contrary, but NAHB is not the answer to Nigeria housing delivery or land use development.

Since ignorance rules, Nigeria is a fertile ground for all sorts of unproductive engagements by foreign associations in cohort with Nigerians.

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