New awards to honour merit in housing

By John Oywa

A consortium of development partners has unveiled landmark international housing development awards meant to spur growth in Africa’s real estate industry.

The Africa Real Estate Finance Academy (AREHF) awards were launched at the Standard Media Group Centre in Nairobi yesterday amid calls for radical policies to help tackle hurdles slowing the provision of affordable housing in Kenya and other African countries.

The awards under the theme ‘discovering and celebrating excellence’ will recognise excellence in real estate and housing finance.

Kenyan real-estate developers, including architects will compete against others from the rest of Africa for the coveted awards being introduced in East Africa for the first time.

Media partner

The competition is sponsored by prominent international firms — Pison Housing Company, the Ghana Housing Finance Association, the African Real Estate and Housing Finance Academy, Shelter Afrique and the HFC Bank (Ghana) Ltd.

The Standard Group is the official media partner for the Awards in region.

Speaking when they met the Standard Group deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paul Melly yesterday, officials from the consortium said the awards will seek to expose the world to the huge potential of the sub-sector in Africa.

Pison Housing Company President, Mr Roland Igbinoba said the contest had no monetary rewards but was meant to celebrate the work of African real-estate developers.

“It will serve as a motivation to real estate and housing developers to make them do more,” said Mr Igbinoba.

Interest rates

Mr Melly hailed the awards, saying it was coming at a time Kenya was struggling to provide adequate housing to its population.

“At the Standard, we have been involved in advocacy on housing because housing is a human rights issue. We can no longer take housing problems for granted,” said Mr Melly.

He said the country urgently needed introduction of radical policies to help make all Kenya’s afford decent shelter.

“With interest rates as high as 25 per cent, majority of Kenyans cannot afford to put up houses,” Mr Melly said, adding that the high cost of land had worsened the situation.

The meeting was attended by Director of Housing at the Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry, Mr Peter Kibinda, the Shelter Afrique Managing Director Alassane Ba, Architectural Association of Kenya’s Oscar Okonde and Musembi Mumo. 

Others in attendance were Standard Group’s assistant directors Lawrence Njiru (Commercial), John Bundotich (Chief Editor) and Managing Editor (Magazines), Zipporah Musau.

Mr Kibinda challenged the private sector to help bridge the financing gap in housing sector.

The awards have six categories including the best Low Income residential houses developer in Africa, the largest real estate provider in Africa, the best Architectural design in Africa and the best real estate public-private partnership in Africa, among others.

The nomination continues until February 29. The award will be managed by a special advisory board while the industry players will vote for the candidates.