22 February 2014

Zambia: Kudos FQM for Housing Scheme

FIRST Quantum Minerals (FQM) deserves commendation for coming up with the idea of a national mortgage credit institute intended to bridge Zambia's housing deficit.

As the story we are carrying today clearly states, the development comes as a direct response to President Michael Sata's call on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to explore various partnerships and investments to cushion the current national housing deficit, which currently stands at 1.5 million units.

On its part, the Government has started building houses for its workers and has so far done and is doing for the defence and security personnel. Some of these housing units have already been commissioned and handed over to the owners.

By coming up with a mortgage credit scheme that will offer home buyers rates as low as eight per cent, FQM is surely set to complement the Government's efforts of affording its citizenry with accommodation.

Housing, like food and clothing, is a basic human need whose ownership is an indication of improved welfare, a pointer to social and economic development.

With an estimated backlog of 1.5 million units, Zambia faces a very critical shortage of accommodation which needs immediate attention by the Government working hand-in-hand with other stakeholders such as FQM.

Such a shortage is highly visible along the line of rail and, as our story shows, is even rapidly growing on the Copperbelt and in North-Western Province which has seen a resurgence of mining activities, as well as in the newly-created districts.

This has created yet another problem for those who do not own houses but stay in rented ones which have become just too expensive as landlords who see these as sources of their livelihood increase rentals any time.

Of course even the recommended annual delivery of 150,000 units to meet demand in the next 10 years may not be enough, but if other companies and financial institutions followed the footsteps of FQM, this could just go a long way in reducing the country's housing deficit.

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