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Jun 3, 2015

Govt pursues aggressive housing policy — President

The government is pursuing an aggressive housing policy to provide more affordable houses in the towns and cities of the country, the President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has stated.

That, he said, had been necessitated by the pressure brought on the government by rapid urbanisation and increasing population.

Mr. Mahama said this when he opened the 34th annual general meeting (AGM) and symposium of Shelter Afrique in Accra yesterday.

Shelter Afrique is a Pan-African housing finance institution dedicated to providing funding solutions for new affordable housing projects in Africa.

The six-day workshop will discuss Africa’s preparedness and collaboration with the private sector to deal with the issue of affordable housing on the continent and deliberate on strategies to accelerate the provision of shelter for all.

The meeting provides a platform for stakeholders and shareholders to brainstorm and take strategic decisions concerning the regional body and the overall development of the housing industry in Africa.

It is being organised by the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, in collaboration with Shelter Afrique, on the theme: “Developing affordable houses for rent.”

Policy initiatives

The President said as a demonstration of the government’s commitment to reduce the national housing deficit which stands at about 1.7 million, it had introduced a number of affordable housing projects, including the OAS, Brazil project which is expected to deliver 5,000 affordable houses.

Besides, the government was providing affordable houses for personnel of the security services at a cost of $50 million.

Mr. Mahama said rental housing had become necessary because most national surveys had established that more than 50 per cent of the Ghanaian population could not afford to buy houses or qualify for mortgage facilities.

Currently in Ghana, rental housing is largely operated by the informal sector, leading to the undue exploitation of tenants.

For that reason, he said, an affordable rental policy was on the cards of the government.

He expressed gratitude to Shelter Afrique for supporting Africa and Ghana in the provision of affordable houses for all.

He said Shelter Afrique had supported the Ghanaian real estate industry with $44 million and was currently considering an additional $29 million to increase accessibility to and affordability of social housing.

Rental housing

In his welcoming address, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, said Shelter Afrique recognised the need for African governments to take active interest in the provision of rental housing as a means of addressing the housing challenges facing the continent.

Stressing the need for a shift from the private sector getting a hold on rental housing, he said “this promotes exploitation by landlords.”

“It is for this reason that the ministry has identified with the proposition of creating an environment conducive to investing for rental purposes. This is one of the key considerations for launching the national housing policy,” he added.

In his introductory remarks, the Managing  Director of Shelter Afrique, Mr James Mugerwa, emphasised the commitment of his outfit to partner national governments by providing financial support and facilitating public/private partnerships to quickly address the housing deficit on the continent.

He said African governments could not depend only on house ownership to resolve the housing problems, adding that “rental housing is an alternative to addressing the problem.”

“Ninety per cent of Africans cannot afford to own their own homes and, therefore, our rental housing has come to stay,” he stated. – Graphiconline