Innovate to address housing challenges - Asenso-Boakye charges industry players

BY: Doreen Andoh
Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Minister of Works and Housing, addressing the participants
Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Minister of Works and Housing, addressing the participants

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, has called on actors in the housing industry to be innovative and come up with pragmatic solutions to help address challenges in the sector.

He said the major challenges in the sector included a national housing deficit of over two million housing units, high cost of houses available, building materials and rental housing and inadequate access to mortgages.

The minister made the call when he launched a three-day Real Estate Housing Fair being organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), in partnership with the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA) and Elrano, in Accra yesterday.

Mr Asenso-Boakye said innovations and pragmatic solutions constituted major solutions to the housing challenges the country had been struggling to address for years.

The fair is going on at the National Theatre on the theme: “Bridging urban housing deficit in Ghana – Investment opportunities, funding, affordability and accessibility”.

Housing fair

Over 30 companies, including banks, investment companies, developers, telecoms, security, insurance and property managers, are participating in the fair.

Also, there are companies that deal in building materials such roofing, tiles and furniture which have mounted stands at the fair to provide counselling and solutions for patrons of the fair.

Platform for awareness

Mr Asenso-Boakye commended the GCGL and its partners for creating the platform to create public awareness of issues confronting the housing sector, saying the ministry was proud to be associated with it.

“As we are all aware, the housing deficit in Ghana is currently on the increase, and as a ministry, our objective is to wipe away the deficit within the shortest possible time by using an appropriate mix of public and private sector investments that meet the needs and financial capacity of the average Ghanaian.

“Significantly, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has prioritised the provision of mass, decent, quality, secure and safe affordable housing aimed at reducing the housing deficit, and my ministry is willing to embrace any collaboration that will support this road map.

“This ‘one-stop’ event should create strong business links and enjoin business networks in the building industry. For visitors, the event should be a convenient venue to shop for all that has to do with housing and making a home,” he said.

Framework

Mr Asenso-Boakye said the ministry was developing a sustainable framework that focused on the overall ecosystem of housing delivery geared towards improving the housing situation in the country.

He said the objective of that framework was to address both the supply and demand sides of the housing market by increasing the output of housing units at an affordable rate and developing a credible and sustainable mortgage market for all Ghanaians.

He said the strategy adopted was to provide incentive packages to create a very conducive atmosphere for affordable housing delivery.

He said the components of housing made housing a very capital intensive venture, requiring careful planning and huge investments to be successful.

“Indeed, Ghana’s growing housing market that is expected to the supply safe, secure, decent, quality and affordable housing for the low-to-middle-income earners has become a very complex and an expensive undertaking. This can be attributed to rapid urbanisation and in recent times the high cost of construction materials.

“It is worthy to mention that a significant proportion of construction materials for the housing sector are imported from countries such as China and Italy and these countries are among the hardest hit by the current coronavirus pandemic.

“This situation, however, presents an opportunity for the country to capitalise on supporting local manufacturing industries to bridge the supply gap,” he said.

Shared responsibility

The Managing Director of the GCGL, Mr Ato Afful, said the magnitude of the national housing problem required collective national efforts from both the government and the private sector to provide the best responsive and timely solutions.

He said already, studies put Ghana’s overall annual deficits between 70,000 and 120,000 housing units, with only 30 to 35 per cent of the annual estimated requirement being supplied.

He said provisional figures from the 2021 Population and Housing Census conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service indicated a population increase from 24.6 million to 30.8 million.

“This has implications for the already large housing deficit facing the country, especially in urban areas. It is projected that the country needs at least 100,000 housing units annually, while supply is estimated at 35 per cent of the total need,” he said.

Mr Afful said over the past years, there had been significant policy interventions to regulate Ghana’s real estate and construction industries.

He said the government had also announced several measures to ensure a credible mortgage system, including the setting up of a National Housing Mortgage Fund.

“We at the GCGL will make a contribution by using our leverage to rally such national efforts. This platform is one such rallying effort to create great solutions for the ordinary Ghanaian who needs a home.

“This platform will also give potential homeowners the opportunity to choose from a range of housing options that best suit their budget and need, as financiers introduce their housing-finance products/services and take participants through the process/how to acquire a house,” he said.

He said industry players, experts and advocates had respective roles in proffering innovative solutions to mitigate this national and human wellness challenge.

The GCGL MD encouraged individuals who were considering building their own homes to consider some variables, such as life’s stages, needs, livelihood, children, among others, to enable them to plan adequately.

He said affordability was possible and existed, but the question of affordability was dependent on how it was approached.

GREDA

The President of GREDA, Mr Patrick Ebo Bamfo, said GREDA had a lot to contribute to the national affordable housing drive.

He said the association was collaborating with the government and other partners, such as financial institutions, to help solve the problem.

“What I will urge all of us to look at is the re-examination of the methods of delivering affordable houses. I think our traditional way of building is no longer cost effective and we believe that a second look should be given to building materials in particular,” he said.

Mr Bamfo said that could boost the delivery of affordable houses and help reduce the cost of houses.

He said if the cost of houses was high, mortgages would also be high and the likelihood of majority not qualifying would also be high.

“My earnest expectation is that through this programme and exchange of ideas, we will be able to generate some pragmatic solutions to the national affordable housing needs,” he said.