New York, USA, Sept 27 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday morning witnessed the signing of a deal to deliver 100,000 affordable housing units.
The project will be financed through a partnership between the Kenya Government and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The signing of the deal took place on the sidelines of the ongoing 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The affordable housing agreement between Kenya and UNOPS is part of the UN agency’s Social Impact Investment Initiative (S3i), a programme that underlines UN’s commitment to fostering innovative financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
When fully implemented, the agreement will boost Kenya’s efforts towards the realization of the ambitious affordable housing agenda as outlined in the Government’s Big 4 development blueprint by injecting 100,000 units into the market.
“Our Affordable Housing Program seeks to implement interventions that will ensure that developers can produce housing units at scale, home buyers can access affordable financing facilities that allow them to buy homes, and that the enabling environment facilitates innovation, embraces technology, and commercial arrangements that can bring down the cost of construction,” President Kenyatta observed when he witnessed the signing of the agreement.
The total estimated investments for the program of delivering affordable housing is approximately USD 13 billion.
President Kenyatta said he wants the Government to deliver on its housing commitment without putting undue pressure on the exchequer.
“We are therefore focusing on financing and investment frameworks that will unlock private sector financing for this program,” said the President.
“We are further making simultaneous investment in the housing supply chain and specifically in manufacturing of inputs into the housing developments. We are embracing commercial arrangements that will incentivize the manufacturing sector to invest adequately to meet the imminent demands of the housing sector, ” he added.
The Head of State expressed strong support for UNOPS’ involvement in achieving the ‘Big 4’ agenda and welcomed any other future initiatives aimed at addressing Kenya’s housing needs.
“We are honoured to have such a noble partner and we look forward to unlocking similar partnerships that will allow us to fulfill our duties as leaders and pave way for adequate, decent, and affordable housing for Kenyans,” the President said.
The President added that for every dollar that will be invested, the country anticipates that up to three times will be realized in the greater economy.
“We believe that we will be able to utilize our labour and create 3 to 5 direct jobs and up to 8 indirect jobs per unit we build,” President Kenyatta said.
On her part, UNOPS Executive Director Grete Faremo lauded the agreement saying the initiative is part of efforts to ensure people have opportunity to live comfortably so as to contribute to the country’s economic growth without many challenges in life.
“Ensuring that people have an adequate and sanitary place to call home is a prerequisite for providing social and economic opportunities, and stimulating economic growth and development”, said Ms Faremo.
“That’s why UNOPS has made affordable housing a core focus of its Social Impact Investment Initiative. We are proud to be working with the Government of Kenya to facilitate new kinds of investment in Kenya’s affordable housing sector and to help make its housing priorities a reality, ” the UNOPS Executive Director added.
UNOPS Social Impact Investment Initiative seeks to de-risk infrastructure investment projects that will help to attract financing from the private sector.
Projects selected are subjected to a rigorous due diligence process to ensure positive environmental, social and economic impact and a clearly mapped out financial return.
“We know that developing economies will need large-scale investments to build sustainable infrastructure and achieve their sustainable development targets,” Ms Faremo said.
“By reducing the investment risk of development activities and forging new partnerships between the private and public sectors, we can unleash new opportunities and resources that will help to accelerate progress towards the SDGs,” the UNOPS head concluded.
Under the Affordable Housing Program, the Government of Kenya aims to provide half a million adequate, decent and affordable houses for its citizens by 2022.