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Ghana would need 5.7 million rooms by 2020 to meet her housing needs in the urban centres.This indicates that new rooms must be completed in every minute daily for 10 years.Dr Graham Tipple, International Advisor of UN Habitat and Team Leader, made the observation at the final stakeholders consultative workshop on improving access to housing in Ghana in Accra on Wednesday.

The final consultative workshop on Ghana's housing sector was jointly sponsored by the UN Habitat and partners, STX EBC (GH LTD), HFC Bank Limited and Ghana Homes Loans. He pointed out that if rooms were to be built as self-contained dwellings, each per household, about two million would be required by 2020. Dr Tipple said housing had never been a large component of national economic planning as it was usually seen as part of the welfare sector.

He said long standing but now defunct rent controls still limited the supply of rental housing and the ability of tenants to feel secured in their rooms, adding, processes to develop housing were very lengthy and time consuming. Dr Tipple said for Ghana to meet her housing needs effectively, 3.8 new rooms per minute needed or more than a dwelling every minute. He said most needed were low cost and must be provided by the informal sector. Dr Tipple said these would need huge land, finance, infrastructure and construction manpower, massive potential to provide work, adding, Business as usual will not keep pace as we need new approaches to ease up the supply chain.

Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, mentioned high cost and access to land with good title and free from disputes; inadequate long term finance for the housing sector; heavy reliance on expensive imported building materials and undeveloped local building materials industry as some of the constraints militating against the country's ability and capacity to resolve the housing crisis. He said it was with that background that the Ministry had put together a draft housing policy with an overall goal of providing adequate, decent and affordable housing that was accessible and sustainable with infrastructural facilities using private enterprise, with government as facilitator or partner where appropriate.

The Sector Minister said a committee had been constituted to review and update the draft building code together with the building regulations, with the objective of coming out with a best practice document for the housing sector. Mr Bagbin announced that the Ministry had on behalf of Government signed agreements with some foreign and local investors to assist in that regard. They include Agu Resources Limited 10,000 housing units at Nsakina, VNs and Sethi Green City Developers Limited - 5,000 housing units, Ital Construct Limited 12,000 housing units and Swiftform Systems Limited 20,000 housing units.

Mr Bagbin said STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited would also provide 30,000 housing units for the security agencies during the first stage of Government's of-taker agreement. STX, as part of its private sector housing development would also provide 110,000 housing units to the public, he said, adding that during the second stage STX would provide 60,000 housing units for the decentralised agencies of government at the metropolitan, municipal and district levels while continuing to provide the private sector housing. Mr Bagbin said mortgage financing would be crucial in helping ordinary workers to acquire those units being put up under the programme, and the Ministry had accordingly been in negotiations with several banks and financial institutions for the provision of mortgage facilities to the prospective beneficiaries.


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