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Robust real estate sector required to address housing deficit

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe & Yaa Kuffour Senyah
Professor Joshua Y. Abor
Professor Joshua Y. Abor

Addressing the 1.7 million housing deficit in Ghana requires a robust real estate sector driven by highly-rated professionals, a finance expert, Professor Joshua Y. Abor, has observed.

The former Dean of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), stressed that it was important for a stronger collaboration between real estate industry players and academia to produce a generation of real estate experts who would revolutionarise the sector.

He added that there ought to be a paradigm shift from the theoretical approach to training of real estate professionals in the country to a more practical approach that combined banking, finance and other modules.

Real estate programme

Prof. Abor made the observations at a workshop organised by the UGBS to discuss steps being taken to introduce a new master’s programme in real estate at the university.

The workshop brought together the academia, industry players and a section of the public.

The former UGBS dean explained that the executive masters in real estate programme was being introduced to address knowledge gap between industry and academia.

New approach

In a presentation on the proposed real estate programme, a retired professor of urban development and management, Prof. K.C Serbeh-Yiadom, explained that the executive masters in real estate were rooted in finance, banking, securities and other disciplines with the overall objective of ensuring that products of the course were on top of all aspects of the real estate business.

He said the country's real estate industry had been struggling from inadequacies such as poor land market information, absence of an enabling legislation, unresponsive capital market, poor competition and absence of expert knowledge.

The urban development and management professor, said the new approach to real estate education, as contained in the new programme, was "a purposeful academic or professional education to endow the industry with an elite of experts exceptionally knowledgeable in global-standard real estate investment and financing.

"It is not the usual Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme where graduates from first-degree programmes can enrol. It is meant for professionals in the banking, finance, securities, labour unions, pensions and insurance who want to get expert knowledge in real estate," he said.

Real estate sector key

For his part, a Deputy Director-General in charge of Finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Paul Ababio, said the programme in real estate by the UGBS was timely.

He said that was because the sector was one of the most profitable aspects of the economy and served as one of the key indices for measuring economic growth.

"The sector's multiplier effect in terms of job creation and services is significant," he said.

According to the United Nations (UN) African countries with rapidly growing populations will have 50 per cent of its population living in cities.

For Ghana, the 2021 PHC showed that 56.7 per cent of the population lives in urban areas.

Against that backdrop, Mr Ababio said it was important to prioritise the development of the critical human resource needed to build the sector.