At a mere glance, Principal Secretary Charles Hinga Mwaura can mislead you to imagine that life has always been a smooth ride for him. But the the 43-year-old father of two, the PS in charge of Housing and Urban Development, says he has tasted the true sense of poverty: he grew up in Ronda, Katembwa slums in Nakuru County, in a one-roomed house.
Mr Hinga revealed this at a housing workshop held in Nairobi on affordable housing under the Big Four Agenda, a project he says he is passionate about. He says his family moved to Mombasa where again they lived in a slum – his father and him would sleep outside to create room for his other siblings.
The PS admitted life in the slums was hard. even harder, he says, is building 500,000 affordable housing units for Kenyans. “It is not going to be easy,” says Mr Hinga. “If it was, it would have been done. At the heart of this program are the people. This program is at the heart of providing social justice.”
Mr Hinga who was sourced from South Africa where he had been helping public agencies to implement landmark mega-infrastructure projects in urban areas via public-private partnerships indicated that the program estimated to cost about Sh2.6 trillion has already attracted so many investors.
He however noted that this is not just a normal program, asserting that they have been compelled to say no to certain prospects, adding that they want to use local juakali artisans so as to create opportunities for low income earners to in return afford the houses.
“We have a clear work plan. Some 700, 000 doors and 900,000 windows will be made locally. As a result we will give to our Jua Kali (informal) industry approximately Ksh150 million resulting from these jobs,” said the PS, noting this will empower the artisans financially and enable them get decent housing.
He pointed out that the informal sector employs most of Kenyans, asserting that anything that can be sourced locally during this project will be made here. Hinga said Kenya needs more housing units to guarantee citizens a life of dignity.
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The Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) is a nationwide initiative that aims to provide decent, quality and affordable housing to Kenyans. The main target is the low income segment which has been locked out of decent homes due to the prohibitive costs.
The government is collaborating with relevant stakeholders to fast track the delivery of the 500,000 affordable and social housing units by 2022, to meet the current deficit of 1.85 million.
Already, the Qatar government has indicated that it is ready to invest $3.5 billion (Ksh350 billion) towards 200,000 affordable housing units, an initiative which is key in the Jubilee government’s so-called Big Four Agenda.
Both county and national governments have 542 hectares of land in Nairobi’s Eastland’s district with a combined total of 42,700 houses
Kenya also signed a deal on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOP) with the latter agreeing to deliver 100,000 affordable housing units.
If the agreements by Qatar government and UNOPS with Kenya are fruitful, Kenya’s efforts towards the realization of the ambitious affordable housing agenda as outlined in the Government’s Big 4 development blueprint will be realized.
The government requires adequate financing and concerted efforts to meet the target of delivering 500,000 affordable and social housing units within the stipulated time, from all actors in housing sector to collaborate in the provision of housing in the country.
The affordable housing program estimated to cost Ksh2.6 trillion is anchored on 100,000 units of low cost homes a year which will then be defined by supply, demand and an enabling environment. Currently, both county and national governments have 542 hectares of land in Nairobi’s Eastland’s district with a combined total of 42,700 houses made up of 17,000 original houses and 27,700 extensions over the years.
In the last quarter of 2018, the government, through the State Department of Housing and Urban Development, released a Framework of Guidelines on the implementation of the affordable housing scheme in Kenya that outlines, among many others, the project’s financing, cost and design, quality and affordability as well as a clear road map for public and private-sector involvement.
The National Housing Development Fund (NHDF) will be the bulk housing aggregator and off-taker. The Fund will mobilize capital with a view to providing certainty of sales and off-take undertaking for developers. The Fund shall also provide affordable end-user financing through long term Tenant Purchase Schemes terms.
The Kenya Mortgage Refinancing Company (KMRC) has also been established and accompanying regulations prepared for gazettement after the necessary approval. KMRC shall provide long-term liquidity to mortgage lenders for on-lending at fixed interest and affordable rates.