The New Times (Kigali)

19 June 2014

Rwanda: Housing Authority to Develop Idle RSSB Plots

Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) will in August start a process of developing and later constructing affordable houses on prime city plots that have been lying idle since 2007 when the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) started acquiring them.

Eng. Leopold Uwimana, the head of construction at the RHA, told The New Times last week that the plots are a 10-hactare site in Batsinda and a 130-hactare site in Kinyinya areas of Gasabo, Kigali.

The plan, he said, is that there will be 60 housing units erected per hectare, implying that once construction is complete, in the future, there will be 8,400 units in total.

Uwimana said: "The RSSB, or former CSR, started acquiring this land in 2007. In August, we will start with provision of basic infrastructure and hiring a firm to construct, then after, in October, construction works would start."

In Batsinda's 10 hectares, he said, the RHA intends to erect 600 houses "in apartment type" or multiple-unit complex with three or four storeys.

There will be four categories - three bedroom houses, two bedroom, one bedroom and another simplest unit - a studio type with a self-contained all purpose room.

Selecting beneficiaries:

This scheme is for all low income Rwandans, Uwimana said, noting that an affordable housing policy, currently being fast tracked by the government, will specify all selection criteria for beneficiaries.

"Appropriate selection criteria for beneficiaries will be set, but the first beneficiaries are public servants earning between Rwf100,000 and Rwf450,000 who do not own any house. However, this matter is still being looked at by policy makers and is not yet concluded," he said.

RHA is already working on another affordable housing scheme to construct 4,800 units in four 20-hectare plots located in Ndera in Gasabo District, Kanombe in Kicukiro District, and Nyamirambo and Kigali sectors of Nyarugenge District, all in the City of Kigali.

The houses in these four locations, according to Uwimana, will be constructed using pre-fabricated technology as the RHA seeks ways to address the country's housing shortage in a cost-effective way.

Batsinda and Kinyinya projects, however, might not readily benefit from prefab technology, as government is still working to entice developers to set up local prefab industries.

Uwimana said any good construction technique which makes houses more affordable to the targeted group would be allowed.

The Kinyinya site, being bigger, he said, will be developed in phases but Batsinda will be the first site to be developed.

Learning from the past:

Previous low cost housing efforts by the RSSB have disappointed, reportedly because there was no clear guiding policy.

Currently, a policy on affordable housing is being drafted. Unlike before, government is providing land and basic amenities such as water and electricity, before developers erect houses with their own cash and the new set up is expected to reduce the cost of housing.

In the past, RSSB required developers to also develop basic infrastructure, including roads and other amenities at their own cost.

Developers would then opt for high-end projects such as its multi-million dollar Vision City homes complex and ignore low cost projects in designated areas such as Kinyinya and Batsinda.

Moses Kazoora, the RSSB communications director, told The New Times that both entities agreed that to cut costs, RHA steps in to provide basic infrastructure.

"It is a partnership. We are going to get a company to model for low cost housing. We are working in partnership with RHA," Kazoora said.

"Previously, the burden of infrastructure costs was incurred by the client after construction. Nearly 40 per cent (of the cost) is usually spent in infrastructure such as roads, electricity and sewage treatment plants."

To cut costs and permit low cost houses to be built, he added, RSSB agreed that RHA, through the ministry of infrastructure, caters for basic infrastructure.

The Director of Media and Communication in the City of Kigali, Bruno Rangira, said a recent study indicates that the current formal housing market only supplies roughly 1,000 units annually yet the city needs around 31,000 units yearly.

The 2013 study estimates that between 2013 and 2018, about 17,280 units [an average of 1,234 units annually], will be constructed.

Housing demand & supply in the city:

A 2013 survey said the total housing requirements in Kigali by 2022 are projected to be 458,265 dwelling units. Kigali's population as of 2012 reached 1.1

million inhabitants, and is anticipated to grow to nearly two million by 2022.

The study aimed at estimating the demand and supply of housing in Kigali, as well as to provide investors and stakeholders with a clear understanding of the market.

Demand drivers:

Housing demand in Kigali is driven by two main factors: first, by demographic change resulting from population growth (including natural growth and immigration) and, second, by economic and policy factors, such as economic transition, geographic location of economic opportunity in rural and urban areas, changes in household income and government policy and regulations that manage growth.

Housing supply:

The formal housing market, as it is currently operating, supplies around 1,000 units per year, but the city will demand around 31,000 units every year. It is estimated that between 2013 and 2018, around 17,280 units will be up and running, which represent an average of 1,234 units per year. These will be supplied into the formal housing of Kigali, of which 28 per cent are apartments and the rest are detached units.

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