2020 a Year in Review of the Nigerian Real Estate Sector

2020 is a year that we will never forget. And as the year winds to an end, let’s look back to see what transpired in the last 12 months and then peek into the new year to see if we can glean what is yet to come for the Nigerian real estate sector in 2021.

The devastating impact from the Coronavirus disease is still reverberating across the globe, leaving a destructive wake in its path which has ended many lives, wrecked businesses, communities and economies. Covid-19 has been the angry elephant in the room in 2020 – but hope is on the horizon.

Coverage of the Coronavirus has dominated the headlines in 2020 all over the planet. While Nigeria has been fortunate to have not experienced a significant amount of infections and deaths, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown and aftermath loomed large over the daily lives of Nigerians.

Top Non-Covid-19 Stories of 2020

  • End SARS Protests – The civic protests and unrest in the streets of Nigeria, in response to the brutal oppression from the supposedly now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), captivated the country for the past several months. The End SARS movement started way back in 2017 in response to the many reports and incidents of brutality, extortion, and murder by the hands of the feared division of the Nigerian police, but had a recent resurgence in October 2020 when demonstrations spontaneously erupted in Lagos and other cities. These demonstrations turned violent and deadly – a sad chapter in 2020.
END SARS protests crippled the country in 2020
  • ShopRite checks out of Nigeria – ShopRite, the ubiquitous shopping centre that sells goods all across Africa, decided to check out of Nigeria after 15 years of doing business in the country. 26 stores will lock their doors for good and the 2000 or so employees will need to search for different employment. This was a surprise when announced, but new purveyors will soon fill the abandoned real estate that ShopRite once occupied.
  • Lagos to Ibadan Rail takes off – The long-anticipated rail project that connects Lagos and Ibadan has been fully sanctioned and the maiden voyage has taken place. This 1.6 billion dollar project saw many delays, but it now promises to be a critical link that has the potential to spur development along its path, while transporting locals to their workplaces and homes in relative comfort and speed.
  • Facebook plans office in Nigeria – Facebook, the social media juggernaut announced in September that they have plans to open in office in Lagos, Nigeria. This will be the second office on the African continent, the first being established in South Africa in 2015. Nigeria is a wise choice since the population and young demographic make-up of the country presents a bright outlook for the social media and technology giant to expand. The office is slated to be open in the back half of 2021.
  • Lockdown 2020 – When the pandemic initially hit, the Nigerian government’s response was inadequate, indiscriminate, and half hazard. Nigerians needed support, direct payments, food, and medical supplies to stay afloat during this trying time, instead, they got intimidation, brutalization, and headaches. Restaurants, hotels, schools, and markets were forced to shutter, okadas were banned all of which devastated the economy, morale, and real estate sector in Nigeria.
The national lockdown impacted all Nigerians

A Volatile Yet Interesting Year

2020 was full of anxiety, violence, unrest, and also hope in the complicated scene of the Nigerian real estate sector. The Covid-19 pandemic obviously took centre stage, but Nigeria and Nigerians still managed to struggle through, and complete some very important projects and ventures.

The real estate sector is vital to the overall health of the Nigerian economy and much is yet to be done to maximize this sector, develop more affordable housing, improve the transportation and road network, so as Nigerians we can live, work and play in peace and comfort.

What Will 2021 Bring?

In 2021 we can expect COVID-19 to dominate at least in the first two quarters of the year. Once the vaccines are distributed and widely available, this should soothe much of the trepidation that still lingers in the air.

We can also expect that stalled projects will commence their activities, and the plans for new airports, bridges, malls, and markets should be ready to take off.

Drastic policy measures need to be implemented by the federal government to address the critical shortage of affordable housing in the country, the lack of access to mortgages and financing, and a smooth and more efficient method to purchase, record and document the acquisition of land and properties.

Optimistic Nigerians

There is a lot of work to do to improve the real estate market in Nigeria, but we have cautious optimism that Nigeria and Nigerians will take the necessary steps to keep advancing.

Stay tuned for fresh new content from Obodo Naija and look for our new branding and relaunch, we have big things planned for 2021 and beyond and we can’t wait to share interesting real estate news, stories, and project updates.

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

-Obodo Naija Team

Roman Kingsley

Journalist based in the United States and Nigeria, focusing on Real Estate Development and the stories emerging in and around the built environment.

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