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Kenya plans housing survey after 28 years

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The Ministry of Housing is set to undertake Kenya’s first comprehensive national housing survey since 1983 with the primary goal of addressing information gaps in the housing market.

The Kenya National Housing Survey will seek to determine key demand drivers in the housing market as well as look at the constraints and challenges hindering proper delivery of housing.

As it currently stands, the annual demand for housing is between 150,000 and 200,000 units in urban areas; an estimate derived from general indicators in the market.

Housing Permanent Secretary Tirop Kosgey said the information from the survey will establish a skilled market in terms of rents, building construction costs and investor guidance.

“We’ll be able to put in place a very credible database, which will guide policy makers on where to direct policy interventions, direct sector players in terms of investment and assist material suppliers,” he said.

The Sh150 million survey will attempt to quantify current trends in the supply and demand of housing, enabling more informed predictions on the housing market in the future.

The lack of actionable housing data over the years has subsequently led to a high risk premium and speculation on property transactions.

Assistant Minister for Housing Margaret Wanjiru said this has been a result of poor monitoring of the housing sector, leaving foreign and local investors alike with little or dated information to draw from.

Since 1983, the ministry has had to rely on the National Population and Housing census for data on housing.

In recent years, efforts have been made by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to gather data in 2005 and 2006 with the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey and the Rent Survey in 2010.

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Real estate firm HassConsult’s property index released every quarter, has offered some insight in the sale and rental market.

Wanjiru said as the country embarks on devolving into the county levels, the need for housing data will become more crucial as the growth of urban areas in the counties would require more resources for development.

The assistant minister added that the government had established a housing infrastructure programme aimed at opening up vacant land for housing development, which she says will be achieved largely through Public Private Partnerships.

“We have so far initiated several projects aimed at providing main trunk services such as water mains, sewer lines and access roads across the country,” she revealed.

Wanjiru further decried the recent demolitions in Syokimau, Eastleigh and Kyang’ombe slums deeming them a painful loss of housing stock and lifetime investments.

“As a government, we must work towards ensuring that relevant data is available to Kenyans at the time that they need it, so that they are able to make informed decisions,” she noted.

A steering committee headed by the Housing Ministry will involve the KNBS, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) and real estate consultancy Scion Real as key partners in conducting the survey.

The housing survey will be carried out between January and June of next year and published bi-annually.

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