Collaborate to deliver affordable housing — State Housing MD
A stronger collaboration between the state and the private sector will facilitate the building of a robust affordable housing scheme capable of delivering accessible houses to citizens.
Such a partnership would help to address challenges to affordable housing, ranging from limited resources, finance, inadequate infrastructure and lack of affordable land.
The Managing Director of State Housing Company (SHC) Ltd, Dr Kwabena Ampofo Appiah, made the assertion at the opening session of the Africa Real Estate Conference in Accra last Monday (October 16).
He stressed that by fostering partnerships between governments and private developers, the needed resources and expertise could be pooled to create sustainable and affordable housing solutions.
"As a country, we are having a housing crisis and the earlier we had a sustainable approach to addressing it through affordable housing, the better.
The first solution to the challenges lies in the power of collaboration," he said.
The three-day conference, organised by the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA), was held on the theme; “Proptech and Sustainability: The Future of Real Estate"
It brought together industry players and policy makers to discuss the challenges confronting the real estate industry and innovative strategies that could be adopted to address those issues.
Housing is a right
Dr Appiah stressed that to give real meaning to affordable housing in the country, there must be policies that prioritised access to housing, a human right issue.
“Housing is not just a matter of brick and mortar. It is a fundamental human right that the government must take seriously and prioritise it to improve the living conditions of citizens,” he stressed.
He said it was unacceptable that although housing was one of the major development challenges confronting the country, there was no provision for sustainable funding for affordable housing.
“In Ghana, we have GETFUND that supports education; there is the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that supports health; but I wonder why we do not have anything to support housing.
The opening session of the Africa Real Estate Conference in Accra
I believe it is about time that the government and the private sector started a conversation around it,” she said.
Dr Appiah suggested that the country could learn from the South Africa example where there was a policy by the government to subsidise the construction of houses for citizens.
He added that the country’s affordable housing policy must leverage technology to address the housing gap and be targeted at sustainable affordable housing on a long-term basis.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, described the call for strategic partnership between the government and the private sector for affordable housing as a good one that needed to be pursued.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Housing, Abdulai Abanga, the minister said urbanisation and the effects of the climate crisis was a wake-up call for concerted efforts to deal with the housing deficit.
He observed that in promoting the affordable housing agenda, real estate developers must adopt green housing practices to protect the environment.
“This includes using energy-efficient materials and designs, incorporating renewable energy sources, and reducing water consumption,” he said.
Mr Asenso-Boakye said as part of measures to build a sustainable housing sector, the government had initiated the process to establish the National Housing Authority (NHA) to regulate the country's housing sector.
He said a bill for the establishment of the authority was currently in Parliament, and would be passed as a matter of priority.
The minister said when the bill was passed, the NHA would have the mandate to regulate, plan and manage housing development in the country in collaboration with private sector developers.
He added that the Rent Act, 1963 (Act 220), which had been in place for 60 years, was also undergoing a comprehensive review to reflect modern trends and dynamics in the housing sector.
“This legislative revision aims to remove limitations on housing availability, protect low-income and vulnerable tenants, and encourage private sector investments,” he said.
Mr Asenso-Boakye added that in an effort to address the affordability and accessibility challenges in the housing sector, the government launched the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) on January 31, 2023 with the aim to eliminate the practice of demanding multiple years of rent in advance, benefiting many Ghanaians.