World Bank woos counties in new housing plan

Edward Uhevi,36 years old,arrives at his new home in Kibera Soweto East Zone 'A' ,Nairobi County. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

The World Bank is keen on supporting county governments to work with the private sector to deliver affordable housing.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel yesterday, World Bank regional director for East and Southern Africa Oumar Seydi said bridging the housing gap in Kenya, especially for low income earners, will not only need capital from donors such as the World Bank, but most importantly partnerships between public and the private sectors.

“The public sector needs private sector expertise and capital, while the private sector will need public sector to come up with policies that will lower the cost of land and ultimately lower construction costs,” Seydi said.

The World Bank regional boss added that for financially challenged governments such as Kenya, Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) are the way to go for both parties to complement each other in infrastructural development.

He stated that in Kenya, high cost of land is locking out investors even as most of the land is in county governments’ hands.

“Let’s us come up with a solution where public land that is controlled by county governments, can be made available for housing development by the private sector. The World Bank will support both parties in this endeavour,” explained Seydi.

Also speaking at the same event, Investment Secretary Esther Koimett, who was representing Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, said the Government was keen on coming up with policies that will lower housing budgets, especial

“We as a government realise that PPPs are the way to go if we are to provide good housing, especially for the poor,” she said.

“That’s why I can confirm that the Government is in talks with Shelter Afrique and the African Development Bank to construct 20,000 units for the disciplined forces beginning this November,” she added.

Ms Koimett, however, reiterated that housing was not the only challenge facing the Government.

She reckoned other challenges such as providing health and water were critical but the state’s coffers cannot fulfill them at once.

She also acknowledged that the country’s debt is high and cannot be heavily relied on. She called on more private sector involvement in housing development.

“The Government will no longer be a provider of social amenities but an enabler,” she said , adding that affordable housing is a long term process that requires huge investment.

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