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Kenyan house maker goes hi tech

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – The National Housing Corporation (NHC) is now embracing technology, with plans to construct a Sh700 million prefabrication factory for mass production of industrial panels for house production.

The aggressive strategy being taken by the corporation is geared towards filling the large housing deficit in the country.

NHC Chairman Bosire Ogero said on Monday that the use of prefabricated technology greatly saves on construction materials while at the same time scaling down time taken in construction.

“We are not happy with the speed of putting up houses. Releasing an average of 100 houses per year is not enough considering the current demand,” he said.

Mr Ogero said this sits well with the end user arguing it will greatly bring down the cost of housing in the country.

“The benefits of this new technology translate into lower cost of purchase for the consumer because of the costs saved from construction and labour,” Mr Ogero said.

According to NHC, the factory, to be located in Mlolongo, is expected to be complete by the end of the year and begin commercial production by the end of June next year.

Prefabricated technology also saves on labour since the house parts are easily fastened to each other during installation.

Demand for houses in urban centers currently outstrips supply by five times, leading to a rise in house prices locking out the low and middle-income earners from owning homes.

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NHC Managing Director James Ruitha said with house supply estimated at 30,000 units against a demand of 150,000 units annually, real estate developers have been taking advantage by marking up house prices by close to 50 percent. This, he said, continues to lock out a number of people from owning homes.

The corporation has developed a Partnership Policy which it intends to use to seek funding and technological know-how to fast track housing development in the country.

Mr Ogero said NHC plans to build 20,000 housing units across the country in the next five years. The developments are estimated to cost between Sh5 billion and Sh6 billion, 

NHC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mahan Industries of Iran to provide funding for the first phase of the project putting up 3,000 units in Mlolongo.

Mahan is also expected to offer technological expertise to NHC to help cut down construction time on major projects.

“Forming partnerships is going to be key on our housing agenda for this country,” Mr Ruithia said.

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