Mr. Alban Bagbin, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, has reaffirmed the government's commitment to address the housing deficit and improve water delivery in the country, saying various housing and water projects were being undertaken by the ministry in collaboration with its agent throughout the country.
Speaking at the "Meet-The-Press" series organized by the Ministry of Information in Accra last Tuesday, Bagbin outlined various housing and water projects being undertaken by the government in various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, as well those that have been completed.
According to Bagbin, statistics from the Housing ministry indicate the existing housing deficit is in excess of 1.57m units, with the deficit projected to be about $2.76 million in 2020.
Of the entire housing stock in Ghana, 90% is privately owned, with just 10% public. The total housing expenditure in urban Ghana ranges from a high of 19% to a low of about 4% in Accra compared to the internationally accepted standard of 35%.
Bagbin also announced that the annual cost of meeting the deficit for housing projects is estimated to be between $2 billion and $3.6 billion, adding that the shortage would be addressed in the 10 years.
Explaining the projects one after the other, Babgin said that the governmenthas extended the affordable housing projects to five more regions in the countryand has also partnered with Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA)to address the housing deficit.
The government has been trying in earnest to convert the Job 600 project into a parliamentary office with facilities such as a chapels, a mosque,committee rooms,a clinic, a restaurant and even a library in order to enable each member's parliament to work in comfort.
He announced that the State Housing Cooperation (SHC) is the only nationwide public sector housing provider. The SHC has established 94 housing estates nationwide comprising of 31,407 housing units. "The corporation intends to develop some of its old housing estates at Kanda, Laterbiokorshie, Kaneshie and North Eaffiakuamain Tarkoradi to improve the living environment," Bagbin said. He added that the goal was to "expand the housing stock to provide more housing units and to also refurbish all guest houses nationwide."
"SHC will launch a national housing register to ensure a well-structured system of allocation of housing in order to establish a national database of land banks to increase and manage its land holdings for investment purposes."
Later in his speech Bagbin announced that the Tema Development Cooperation is also developing 340 acres of land estimated at GHC $22 million, 22 out of 1100 plots being slated for residential purposes. 22 acres of plot will be for institutional and social facilities.
Babgin explained that the Public Servants Housing Loans Scheme (PSHLS) is managed by the Home Finance Company (HFC). A capital base of US $7 million, provided by the government of Ghana in January 1991, was invested into bonds and later reinvested into the PSHLS in 2007. The value of the bonds stood at GHC $8.13 million in 2008.
"Workers are eligible for loans up to GHC $25, 000 and the interest rate is between 10 and 15%. Total disbursement is 230 workers and 57 disbursements were made to workers in 2010," he added.
Touching on architectural plans, Bagbin noted that the Architectural and Engineering Service Limited (AESL), which has government oversight,offered capacity building training programs for 2,320 students in specialized areas between 2009 and 2011 and also provided technical support in project appraisals, project planning and project execution for District Assemblies.
On the Keta resettlement scheme, 115 housing units are under construction at a cost of GHC $1.9 million while the Ningo-Prampram and Sakumono coastal protection works will start by the end of this year. Under the redevelopment projects, 70% of the Dixcove coastline works is completed; the project cast is GHC $530, 330.
On the issue of water, Bagbin said that the government is on course to meet and strip the Millennium Development Goal target of providing potable water coverage for 78% of the population by 2015.
The government of Ghana's target is to reach 85% by 2015 and universal access by 2025. It was also noted that 62% of the population had access to potable water by the end of 2010.
Additionally, Bagbin concluded by remarking that the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and Volta River Authority are constructing an additional terminal plant in the Central Region in order to increase water distribution.Upon completion of the plant, a targeted population of 11,734,089 will enjoy accessible water.