Daniel Adamu - Urban Development and Governance
Back home in Nigeria, Daniel – curious about the city in which he was about to live for four years – took a ‘virtual tour’ of Rotterdam using Google Street View. “I instantly fell in love with the city”, he remembers. Not because of the architecture or the famous skyline. There was something else that captured the urban planner’s interest. “What immediately caught my attention were the well-designed, dedicated cycle paths, which are clearly a sign of inclusiveness”, Daniel explains, referring to the inclusion of many different types of people and the way they are all treated fairly and equally. “Here in Rotterdam, if you cannot afford to use public transport, at least you can afford a bike with which you can move from any part of the city to another.”
For Daniel, it’s all about inclusiveness. With his drive to work towards an egalitarian society, this concept also forms the core of his PhD research on public-private partnership (PPP)-led housing delivery in urban Nigeria at Erasmus University’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS).
“PPP is a form of collaboration between public and private actors which involves a contractual agreement, sharing risks and benefits, roles and responsibilities among the partners as they facilitate, process and deliver goods and services”, Daniel explains. “My research focus is to demystify how institutional arrangements determine inclusiveness in PPP-led housing delivery in Nigeria.”
Only for the rich
The housing situation in urban Nigeria started to change between 2000 and 2002, when after 30 years of military rule Nigeria experienced a return to democracy. Daniel: “This was when the National Housing and Urban Development Policy was instigated, opening up the housing sector to private investors. As an urban planner, I was surprised to find out that a lot of the design was more market-oriented. Most of the houses delivered turned out to be only for the rich.”
In the city of Lagos, for example, between 1980 and 1993, the public agency responsible for housing delivery delivered some 21,630 housing units, out of which low-income groups were able to access about 55%. However, between 2002-2007 the same city, having now adopted the PPP-approach, delivered 1,276 homes, of which the low-income group was able to access just 16%.
Crucial to human survival
“How is it possible that they’re delivering at a slower pace and with exclusionary tendencies, despite affordability promises made in the PPP-led approach to meet the growing housing need, particularly for the low-income group?”, Daniel wonders. In his research, he is seeking to understand how institutional arrangements - regulatory framework and organizational capacity - influence inclusiveness in terms of participation, access, equity and empowerment.
Daniel: “Housing is so crucial to human survival. Why should we allow market forces to determine how people access this most crucial aspect of living? It’s not that I’m against PPP, but I want to see how it can be made more functional, more effective, so that all classes are taken into consideration.”
At first Daniel thought such failure to care for the less fortunate was just a developing country issue. But at this year’s World Cities Summit Mayors Forum, mayors from across the globe agreed on creating a shared vision towards developing more inclusive cities.
“That was a big surprise”, Daniel remembers. “While I had already been working on this subject for more than a year, suddenly new ways of making PPPs more efficient and effective suddenly became a global agenda. This shows that it is a real life issue, dealing with a phenomenon that is affecting the lives of citizens not just in developing countries, but globally. This was a real boost for me, because it proved that I’m on the right track.”
Fulfilling a dream
After his PhD, Daniel hopes to expand his academic horizon on the global stage, being a PPP expert on the basis of the perspectives opened up by his study. “If you wish to make a global impact, you need a background like this”, he says, referring to his research experience at IHS. “I always had the desire to be an alumnus of one of the world’s best universities. Being able to do my research here at Erasmus University is fulfilling a dream.”