Plan to scale up housing development in motion

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Plan to scale up housing development in motion 
Minister Garwe

Leonard Ncube

Victoria Falls Reporter

MORE financing models are being explored to speed up the construction of new housing, including tapping into international credit lines and public-private partnerships, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe told Parliament recently.

Delivering affordable and quality housing in both urban and rural areas is one of the core targets set under the National Development Strategy (NDS1), which builds momentum towards Vision 2030.

Under this drive, a cumulative 220 000 housing units must be developed for both rural and urban areas by 2025, and 1,2 million units by 2030 to cope with an anticipated backlog of 1,5 million.

This has to be achieved through leveraging partnerships with the private sector, harnessing new building technologies, as well as partnership with Shelter Afrique, a Pan-African bank that exclusively supports the development of affordable housing and real estate sector growth in Africa.

Shelter Afrique has already pledged US$25 million to finance at least 3 000 houses and flats countrywide, including a pilot scheme for walk-up flats in Victoria Falls.

Construction at several developments by the Government and private sector is in progress countrywide as efforts continue to push development of affordable housing to all.

Responding to questions in Parliament, Minister Garwe said Government was pursuing a number of models including implementing the Shelter Afrique scheme.

Legislators had wanted to know if Government through Treasury was exploring any alternative housing funding models.

“Our response is that the ministry is working with the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion together with Infrastructure and Development Bank of Zimbabwe to access international lines of credit,” said Minister Garwe.

“We are crafting project proposals as the basis upon which we are going to draw down the US$25 million that has been presented to Government by Shelter Afrique, a Pan-African Bank based in Kenya. 

“Furthermore, we are exploring public-private partnership models with international and domestic investors to provide social housing to Zimbabweans. Currently, the project proposals have been prepared and some have been submitted to the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency and others are at different levels of conclusion.”

His Ministry had also sent requests for proposals where it advertised to the market to attract local developers to partner the Government on housing delivery along with engineering, procurement, construction and finance.

Minister Garwe said the Zimbabwe national human settlement policy had liberalised housing delivery by allowing private sector participation through banks, financial institutions, civic society, pension funds and individuals.

The Government is also seized with the issue of title deeds countrywide with an inter-ministerial committee in place, and a pilot project has been rolled out in Epworth waiting to be spread in phases across the country.

The Housing Ministry, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and Environmental Management Authority and other partner organisations envisaged mapping disaster risks at the planning stage of every new settlement with the attendant mitigatory measures.

Minister Garwe also said Government, through disaster reaction teams, was ready to provide shelter in times of emergency, as was being done in Dzivaresekwa and Binga for families affected by floods.

More than 56 million people on the African continent are in need of housing and many live in shacks, according to the Shelter Afrique research arm, Centre of Excellence.

Africa needs a paradigm shift and political will to come up with deliberate polices that prioritise housing as a human right and ensure socio-political stability on the continent through housing provision especially for rural populations.