Robust R&D is key to sustaining tempo of success, leading the sector – Mr Umar Abdullahi, CEO, Cosgrove

  • ‘At Cosgrove, we don’t just transfer technology, we also improve it’
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Shortly after he sealed the 4th landmark deal in the 4th quarter of the company’s first year in business, the Chief Executive Officer, Cosgrove Investment Limited, Mr. Umar Abdullahi discusses the strategies of the innovation-inclined real estate development organisation that has become famous for being able to sell its homes before they are built. Mr. Abdullahi who earned renown for delivering over ten landmark estates in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, explained that the “strategic secrets of Cosgrove’s customer-loyalty are integrity, professionalism, continuous innovation, superior standard and youth.” Excerpts


What percentage of the company is owned by Nigerians?

Cosgrove is 100% indigenous to Nigerians, and has joined the rank of organisations that understand the secrets of sustaining the tempo of early success. By this, I mean we have a very busy Research and Development (R&D) Department that exists to study, think and propose new strategies and methods that you are not likely to find anywhere else. So, we devote a lot of funds to their foreign travels, seminars and interaction with housing research institutes and establishments in Nigeria and overseas.

Our R&D staff are abreast of advancements in innovation in various aspects of housing and construction such as automation, security, training, housing finance and others. So Cosgrove is committed to innovation, forward thinking and every new thing that is coming into the market space.

You will agree that this is the internet age, there are no borders anymore. So if something is invented in America today, you can find it in Spain or Nigeria as a result of the enabling environment created by technology.

A point of note is that Cosgrove does not just want to transfer technology, we also aim to build upon it, we aim to improve it, and God is with us, and we are succeeding.

How many homes make up your ongoing Super-Smart Estate and what are the peculiarities?

Our latest project – the Maitama project will accommodate at least 300 smart homes. Like the homes in our previous estates, the houses will be extraordinary in various ways.

The Cosgrove Super Smart Estate here in Wuye is of a quality that is as never before. In my entire career, I have never seen structural reinforcements in housing as we have here in this estate. The houses are really unique.

In what ways are the houses more qualitative?

To start with, we don’t use manual concrete mix, we import Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) from Lafarge, a French industrial brand that is well known for high standard. We are also in partnership with Zeberced for RMC.

Secondly, we use only British Standard Steel (BSS) for all our structural enforcement, we don’t use the common steel that you know. Without prejudice to developers who use local steel, I want to tell you that experts in the industry know the difference between BSS and other shades of steel. Because Cosgrove desires to maintain a standard, we decided to go the extra mile to get these materials.

Some companies try to cut cost but certainly not Cosgrove. In fact, clients hardly see the steel because it is usually buried in the concrete, but we have a name to protect and so we use only British Standard Steel.

Cosgrove is the brand that has decided never to cut cost at the expense of compromising standards. To the best of my knowledge, the structural integrity of our buildings is second to none, and we are honored to build for those who understand our taste. Cosgrove is more than just a real estate company, we are developers distinguished by the revolutions we bring to bear in housing.

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You said automation is a feature of Cosgrove homes, kindly tell us more about it.

Yes, another feature that distinguishes Cosgrove is our ability to embrace automation. Automation is an evolving thing in the industry, it is about getting your house to work for you instead of you being the one to work for your house. That means you can touch a button on your smart phone to get your gate opened, or to turn on the coffee-maker, or to switch on the lights, or open/close your curtains. There are many more things you can do in your smart house via automation.

You can even view your house on your phone from wherever you may be, and you can even lock and unlock the doors from anywhere you are, even abroad. The houses in our smart estates will be like that.

In the city, you may see one or two smart homes, but not an estate of super-smart homes. Cosgrove has taken the lead to provide those who love technology and innovation with the first set of smart estates in the FCT. So every home is smart and the entire perimeter of the estate is also smart. This means that Artificial Intelligence cameras will be installed to monitor the estate from inside and outside.

There is something extraordinary about the cameras; they will not just pick faces, but will also recognize faces. That is how far innovation in security has gone, and we have embraced it. Most cameras would usually pick faces only, but the ones here will be able to recognize faces.

How would you set up this security facility?

It’s simple! We capture the biometrics of residents and their domestic staff and install them in our database. On the basis of the biometric, we program the gate in relation to the cameras. If you sacked your houseboy or driver, he would not be allowed to go near you. If your neighbor is not aware that you have sacked such a dissident staff and employs him or her, our system will raise alarm when such sacked staff comes near the estate. Security staff will respond to the alarm by preventing him from getting access to the estate. For this to work, residents have the responsibility of informing us. It is only when we are informed that we can blacklist the sacked staff on the database at the control room. It’s a super smart security system, and it is at the top of the range in the world, today.

Cosgrove Smart Estate will also deploy Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. This means devices will read the vehicle plate number of residents and give them access. Residents can also notify the control room of visitors they would want to see, and we will give them access.

So the whole estate will be secured using latest advancement in security technology.

Mr. Umar Abdullahi, CEO, Cosgrove Investment Limited

Apart from these, what other features characterize the estate?

There would be exceptional recreational facilities like standard swimming pool, club house, sports corner, 24/7 electricity supply and 24/7 broadband internet fiber optic otherwise known as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).

In addition, there would be smart video doorbells, smoke detectors and temperature detection systems among other innovative devices.

So the four Cosgrove estates in progress are the first fully automated smart estates in the Federal Capital Territory and we are happy that we are succeeding.

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