A NEWLY-formed real estate developer and fund management firm, Watumishi Housing Company (WHC), has acquired over 200 acres in 12 regions for the first phase of its ambitious project to construct 50,000 housing units for the public servants in five years.
WHC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fred Msemwa said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that construction of the 1,500 housing units in the 12 regions is scheduled to start in the next two months, with President Jakaya Kikwete expected to launch the project in October.
"This is historic and the largest ever real estate project to be implemented in East and Central Africa if not the entire African continent," Dr Msemwa said of the multi-billion project that seeks to ease the housing problem among public servants in the country.
He expressed optimism that the successful execution of the project will have huge social and economic impacts as well as accelerate development in the country's peripherals. The project will also play a significant role in checking squatters in the country.
The regions under the first phase project are Dar es Salaam, Coast, Dodoma, Morogoro, Ruvuma, Mtwara, Mbeya, Kigoma, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Arusha and Tanga.
According to available data, the country faces an acute shortage of houses, with the demand-supply gap estimated at 1,200,000 units and growing at an annual rate of 200,000 units.
Although the problem affects all people in urban areas, the public servants who are compelled to work in rural areas suffer most.
The government, therefore, established WHC in 2013 and entrusted it with the responsibility to build 50,000 houses under the public servant housing scheme and sell them to public servants across the country under mortgage arrangements.
The National Housing Corporation (NHC), pension funds and other private developers have been building houses, which however remain beyond the reach of many people due to their exorbitant prices and high cost of loans that range between 18 and 22 per cent.
Dr Msemwa, in an interview with the 'Daily News' that the government has through WHC worked out a strategy to enable public servants buy the houses at cheap mortgages of between 10 and 13 per cent, repayable in up to 25 years.