18 February 2019

Namibia: Make Land Available for Affordable Houses - Mutumba

Polycare Research Technologies says the government and local authorities should make land available at lower prices to ensure affordable decent accommodation.

The company has launched operations in Namibia, and has plans to build houses that will cost N$295 000 each by using environmentally friendly material.

Polycare has partnered with KL Construction, Namib Beton and Guinas Investment.

Responding to questions from The Namibian last week, PolyCare Namibia's board member, Jerome Mutumba, said access to cheap land is a key factor in making houses more affordable.

He noted that if more houses are built, there is a possibility that the price of Polycare houses would decline.

"After all, the local authority will benefit from property taxes in perpetuity as a result of houses being built," Mutumba said.

He believes that lower prices will increase the demand for these houses, and an increase in the number of houses they built will reduce the prices of these houses because of the benefits derived from the economies of scale.

Mutumba added that the company would like to work with the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and local authorities to ensure that they have access to land since there are developers out there with access to land.

"If a solar pack is installed at the outset, a family will be provided with hot water and electricity free of charge. Consequently, there won't be any electricity bills to pay, and that will be a big saving in the long run," he reasoned.

PolyCare designs are also scalable, which means a family can start with a one-bedroom house, which can then be expanded to two or three in due course.

Since Polycare building blocks have in-built insulation, families will not spend money on heating the house in winter or cooling it in summer.

Mutumba said they are proposing to work with developers and builders in providing them with PolyCare building blocks to build houses.

PolyCare is also keen to work with small to medium enterprises, and train them on how to build houses with its modular assembly system in order to help meet the housing needs that this country has.

This should increase employment, and also lead to more entrepreneurs springing forth, he said, adding that the government needs to consider what tax breaks they can provide to encourage employers to help their employees purchase houses.

"The PolyCare modular building system can be used to build schools and clinics, and we are looking forward to working with the minister of health and the minister of education on how more clinics and classrooms can be provided to people of Namibia," Mutumba noted.

According to him, the installation of the PolyCare factory was only completed towards the end of October last year, after which it was commissioned in November 2018. December was the holiday break, and they spent the whole of January 2019 training staff who have been recruited from a settlement close to the factory.

PolyCare has only just started, and it is in discussion with several farms and lodges who want to provide houses for their staff.

"We are in talks with the City of Windhoek, where we are going to ask them to provide us with some land, even though it has not been serviced," he continued.

Mutumba said they are also looking for international partners who are willing to build houses using PolyCare's technology, and these houses will be made available for people to rent for a number of years, and after a few years, the houses fully become theirs.

City of Windhoek spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said in response to questions sent to her that the shortage of affordable housing is a challenge which everyone should be seeking solutions to.

"It is, however, delicate to predetermine the willpower of the council without an application," she said.

Amutenya explained that whenever an application is received, it goes through various processes where many factors are considered in order to reach a final decision.

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