Affordable homes plan on — Uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta during his Madaraka Day speech at Narok on Saturday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta says his administration is on course to provide 500,000 affordable homes over the next three years.

In the coming months, Kenyatta will commission projects, including 100,000 units developed by the United Nations Office of Project Services, he said Saturday at a rally to mark the nation’s anniversary of achieving self-rule from the British. Some 12,000 acres of public and privately-owned land has been made available across the country for building homes. East Africa’s largest economy has a housing shortfall of two million homes and only about 26,000 mortgages.

Kenyatta included affordable housing in his so-called Big Four agenda -- along with manufacturing, food production and health care -- to also help create jobs in a nation where unemployment is a sticking electoral issue.

“I look forward to handing over no less than 500,000 house keys to first-time home owners” between now and June 2022, Kenyatta said.

“Private land has been made available for the accelerated phase of construction that will also bring on board local and international investors. Affordable and decent homes for all Kenyans are in sight.”

To help boost financing for prospective home buyers, the government and private investors started a mortgage refinance company last week with the aim of more than doubling home loans in the next three years.

Kenyatta vowed to also continue pursuing an unpopular policy of workers and their employers making mandatory contributions to a housing fund. Flanked by the nation’s Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge, Kenyatta unveiled new banknotes in adherence to a requirement in the 2010 constitution that the bills shouldn’t bear images of an individual.

Existing notes have portraits of former Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi.

The new notes feature the Kenyatta International Convention Center, one of the nation’s most iconic buildings located in the capital, Nairobi, as well as wildlife including a lion and elephant.