Cablegate: Lagos Makes Strides in Property Registry
DE RUEHOS #0534/01 2081320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271320Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9267
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9062
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0478
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0456
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0457
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000534
STATE PLEASE PASS TO DOT, EX-IM, OPIC, AND USTDA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV EFIN PREL NI
SUBJECT: LAGOS MAKES STRIDES IN PROPERTY REGISTRY
1. Summary: On June 19, Debra Erb, Overseas Private Investment
Corporation (OPIC), and housing sector stakeholders visited the
Lagos State Lands Bureau. The Bureau has implemented significant
improvements in registering property, including dramatically
lowering fees, automating registration, and streamlining Governor's
consent. The state government was also exploring options for
low-cost housing for civil servants. End summary.
2. A June 19 visit to the Lagos State Lands Bureau with Debra Erb,
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); representatives of
First City Monument Bank (FCMB); Jim Brenner, Chief Executive
Officer (CEO), Broad Cove Partners, an emerging market private
equity manager; and Econoff revealed significant improvements in
registering property. Dayo Akintoye, Registrar of Titles, Onikepo
Animashaun, Chief Magistrate, and Muyiwa Gbadegesin, assistant to
Mrs. Akintoye, outlined this progress.
Reduced Fees, Automated Registration
3. The fees for Governor's consent and property registration had
been lowered significantly, from 50 percent to 15 percent. The lower
fees had already resulted in an increased volume of transactions,
yielding greater revenue for the state, said Akintoye.
4. Registration had been fully automated and existing documents
scanned into a digital database. A tour of the public computer room
confirmed a modern facility wherein property searches could be
completed in a matter of minutes. Governor's consent would be
streamlined with the implementation of "mortgage desks," which
Akintoye said had already been put in place. This would be a
public-private partnership, in which a firm would be contracted to
process the transactions. Profitability would hinge on the number of
transactions. To facilitate resolution of property disputes,
newly-elected Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola had created
mortgage courts, which were expected to resolve cases within three
to six months.
5. These changes had been designed with significant input from the
private sector, said Akintoye. Oloyede Obatoyinbo, Vice President,
Head Home Loans, FCMB, concurred that FCMB had made suggestions for
reform. Obatoyinbo offered to share FCMB's data on the housing
sector with the Lands Bureau, and Brenner said he would assist FCMB
in compiling such data. Akintoye welcomed the offer, noting that
reliable information was difficult to come by.
Low-Cost Housing Is A Priority
6. Affordable housing was a priority for Governor Fashola, and he
hoped Lagos would serve as a model for other states. Akintoye noted
that a recent initiative by the UK-based Department for
International Development (DFID) and the Ministry of Housing had
employed Lagos as a model.
7. Lagos was currently identifying areas suitable for the
construction of low-cost housing. A priority was housing for civil
servants, which could also be used as a model for other housing
projects. Public low-cost housing projects have been limited, in
part, because of the high cost of construction materials. (Note: Jim
Brenner lamented that tax on construction materials was 40-45
percent. End note). Upon construction and payment of all applicable
fees, most civil servants were priced out of the market. One
solution, Akintoye suggested, would be to lease state-owned land to
developers and place a cap on prices.
8. Because of limited credit information on individuals, lenders
were approaching mortgages through corporate groups. Civil servants
were one such group, and they represented a relatively low-risk
population due to their long tenure of employment. Trade
associations also tended to have a well-developed credit system,
said Akintoye. Because of the decreased risk, association lending
allowed lower interest rates. Erb noted that the working class was
often a better credit risk than the wealthy, who were more prone to
face a sudden reversal of fortune.
9. Debra Erb, Jim Brenner, and the representatives of FCMB said they
were impressed with the scope of changes already implemented by the
Lagos State Government.
10. The changes outlined by the Lands Bureau officials have already
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resulted in increased property registration. Together with the
mortgage courts, this could facilitate consumer lending as banks
become more willing to use property as collateral. End comment.
11. Debra Erb cleared this cable.