16,000 affordable units to ease housing deficit

President William Ruto (centre) during the inspection of an affordable housing project at Mukuru in Nairobi, October 3, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, standard]

Kakamega County is set to start the construction of 16,000 units through a public-private partnership to solve the housing problem.

Kakamega Land executive Peninah Mukabane said the county had already set aside 34 acres to construct 10,000 unit hostels which will be used for accommodation by students of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.

Mukabane said there is a piece of land at the Mumias Triangle where another 5,000 units are to be constructed, and another one at Mudiri estate in Kakamega town for 1,000 units to benefit civil servants under the Civil Servants Housing Scheme.

She said this during the Kakamega Real Estate breakfast meeting.

"The slums will be upgraded using either appropriate or Alternative Building Material Technology (ABMT) or Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks Technology (ISS) in a bid to get rid of mud houses within Kakamega CBD. That's the only way we will attain city status," Mukabane said.

She said despite the county, in partnership with the World Bank, fast-tracking infrastructural development in the county through the construction of roads to bitumen standards, increased connectivity to electricity, street lighting and water access, housing was still a big problem.

Kakamega County Investment and Development Agency (KCIDA) chief executive Elizabeth Asichi said the cardinal agenda of the meeting is to network and discuss leveraging affordable housing opportunities in Western Kenya.

"The National economic surveys carried out by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that Kenya has a housing deficit of over 2 million homes, which increases by around 200,000 per annum. Some 50,000 new houses are being constructed annually, but this fails to impact demand significantly," Asichi said.

Masinde Muliro University alone has a population of 16,000 students struggling to get decent and affordable accommodation.

"KCIDA was established to offer business people and investors an enhanced supportive and comfortable business environment. Public-private partnerships are crucial in our investment and growth agenda," said Asichi.

Last week's launch of a Sh20 billion housing project by President William Ruto in Ziwani is expected to be a game-changer in the government's plan to give those living in informal settlements decent housing.

The project is a partnership between the government and GulfCap Africa Limited and will comprise one, two and three-bedroom 6,704 units. The selling price for the units starts from Sh1.155 million.

It will be undertaken in five phases over three years.

It will include children's playgrounds, a swimming pool, a gym, greenery, sports facilities, a community center, an Early Childhood Development centre, outdoor communal recreational facilities, food courts, and many others.