The Ugandan government has committed to support property developers across the country, as it steps up efforts to increase decent and affordable accommodation for all Ugandans by 2020.
According to the housing minister, Chris Baryomunsi, the government will starting next year, extend electricity, water and sewerage services to construction sites, thus reducing the cost of housing by at least 50%.
“Right now we have a housing deficit of over 2.1 million units, and the available houses are very expensive. Our population is estimated to reach 64 million by 2040, and if we do not act now, we shall lack accommodation for our people,” he said.
This was on the sidelines of the celebrations to mark ten years of Avarts Housing’s existence at Kololo in Kampala.
Baryomunsi said the rising housing shortage in the country is expected to hit 8 million by 2020 if critical measures to address the problem are not taken.
According to a 2015 World Bank housing report, Kampala will turn into an extended slum in ten years if investments in the real estate and housing sectors are not deepened.
The minister also spoke against the mismatch between products that are coming to the market, the price point and the target market, a thing he said has killed housing demand and increased the deficit.
“Right now, very few Ugandans can afford houses of three, four or five hundred million, yet these are the kinds of developments that are coming on the market. Therefore, government is prepared to come out and support the sector in ensuring that we get affordable descent housing units for all Ugandans,” he said.
A survey done in 2014 by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBoS) revealed that Uganda has a housing deficit of 550,000 units, 160,000 of which are in urban areas, with Kampala carrying a housing deficit of at least 100,000 units.
“The new statistics therefore indicate that the housing deficit has increased by almost 71% in only two years. This means that we have more people lacking accommodation and the growth rate is high, for which we must act,” Baryomunsi lamented.
He said government is also working on availing money for mortgage financing, to try and make borrowing cheaper for the sector and boost growth.
“We have engaged a Dutch consultant to establish how to roll out the mortgage facility through the Housing Finance Bank, and hopefully, by next year, we shall be rolling it out.”
On his part, Avarts Housing chief executive, Vincent Agaba said government’s intervention in the development of the real estate sector is timely, but lamented the rising cost of building materials.
He also said the various ongoing road construction and repairs in the metropolitan areas of Kampala have not improved the general infrastructure, especially in places outside the city, pushing the cost of construction up.
“We need tax reduction on some materials just to encourage growth of the sector, and extension of facilities outside the central business district of Kampala,” he said.
The Dutch ambassador to Uganda, Henk Bakker, said his government will support any housing development initiatives taken by the Ugandan government to provide descent accommodation for its people