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Kenyan govt, private sector in housing plan

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – The government will soon partner with private developers to put up affordable and decent housing for the millions of Kenyans who do not own homes.

Housing Permanent Secretary Tirop Kosgey said on Thursday that when the Land Policy – which is projected to be incorporated in the proposed constitution is implemented – it will make it easier for the private sector to access land for construction of houses either for rental or sale.

“The National Land Policy was approved last year and it is in the process of implementation which will give a playing field where the private sector can have access to land to invest in primarily in the urban areas and it will also open up new areas in the outskirts of major towns,” he said.

With its implementation, the policy will also put in place a land use management framework which will support investments within the sector and address the situation where physical amenities have been overstretched or where land is developed without the provision of adequate infrastructure.

The unavailability of land for development in the country has been cited as one of the major reasons why housing and property prices have continued to escalate. This has in effect seen many Kenyans forced to live in deplorable conditions in slums and informal settlements while many others cannot afford to own homes.

The government has however acknowledged this problem and has put in place several measures to address it. These include the provision of incentives to encourage more private sector participation in the housing industry and attract additional investments in the low income segment housing.

“We have a number of housing sector incentives which we have compiled in a booklet for the private sector to take advantage of,” the PS added.

Mr Tirop said the government was also looking into ways of bringing down the cost of building materials in the country, a move which would go a long way in enabling it to address the problem of acute housing shortage in the country where demand in urban areas is estimated at 150,000 units against a supply 35,000 per year.

This will include the development of new or alternative building technologies which will be supported by the enactment of the Building Code.

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The PS spoke during an event to brief members of the Kenya Commercial Bank Group’s Developers Club who include Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers and Estate Agents who will be traveling to China to learn from the building construction expertise in that Asian country.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Group Businesses Peter Munyiri said China is the largest producer of building materials and supplies in the world and as such the eight-day trip would provide productive insights for the developers.

“China is renowned for its architectural heritage. Many architects from all over the world indeed go to China to learn from the Chinese architectural histories. As you head to the Far East nation we look forward to hearing your success stories on your return,” he told the professionals who are also their customers.

The bank’s Divisional Director for S& L mortgages Caroline Kariuki hoped that the tour would act as an eye opener for the developers who would be able to explore ways of offering affordable housing for Kenyans.

“We hope that some of the things that the developers’ club will learn will assist in the reduction of cost of housing in Kenya and which is currently very high,” she said.

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