Making affordable housing a reality in Kenya

Workers at a construction site. There are few houses for less than Sh5 million.

The government’s aim of building one million affordable homes in five years, if successful, could spur the real estate sector, and place Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) at the centre of economic life.

This is according to Kfir Rusin, the managing director of the East Africa Property Investment (EAPI) Summit. 

A primary focus for the conference is developing a strategy for realising the government’s goal.

“We believe we will develop the roadmap to making affordable housing a reality,” says Rusin.

But the Chairman of the Kenya Property Developers Association, Mucai Kunyiha, argues there is a lot of work to be done first.

“Our members are keen to unlock the key obstacles that have hindered progress in the sector in the past, including proper planning by local authorities, provision of adequate infrastructure, and a complete overhaul of the Land Registries, whose ability to deal with the existing volumes of transactions is already strained,” says Kunyiha. 

Kecia Rust, the executive director of the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, argues that the opportunity for affordable housing is immense and could lead to the creation of 1.3 million jobs across the continent and $400 billion (Sh40 trillion) in direct economic activity.

“The real challenge is the housing value chain, and if we look at the first step, land, how do we get access? We have to look at the municipalities and ask who administers it and address infrastructure requirements and needs first,” she says. 

“The majority of the middle class and working-class households simply can’t get a foot in the door,” says Rust.

While the government remains tight-lipped on what an ‘affordable home’ is; Kunyiha defines it as costing up to Sh4 million to buy, and aimed at households that earn between Sh40,000 and Sh100,000 per month.  

“We’re very much looking at affordable housing and how we can work together with the government and the private sector, to participate in the government’s housing agenda under the big 4,” said Barclays Kenya’s Head of Strategy, Moses Muthui.