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Nigerian president promises 200,000 affordable mortgages, interest rates now 20 percent

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says his government will create more than 200,000 affordable mortgages over five years and introduce rent-to-own options for low-income housing to address a massive shortage in Africa's most populous nation.

Jonathan outlined the plans in a New Year's Day address. Nigerian banks currently hold only 20,000 mortgages in a population of more than 160 million because interest rates average 15 to 25 percent and buyers must pay 30 percent of property prices up front.

Some bankers are skeptical of the government's new Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Co. but it is backed by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

Jonathan also celebrated Nigeria's move from an importer of cement to an exporter with production up from 2 million tons in 2002 to 28.5 million tons.