By Babajide Komolafe
The Government of Japan and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have approved a grant from the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) of $178,579 to provide technical assistance to Banque Congolaise de lâ€™Habitat.
The FAPA funds will pay for training programs aimed at improving management efficiency and treasury operations at Banque Congolaise de lâ€™Habitat.Â The technical assistance offered by FAPA will help ensure that BCH becomes a successful lender in the housing sector of Congo.
The FAPA grant comple-ments a 15% equity investment in BCH approved by the African Development Bank Board of Directors on 3 June 2009. Additional training and technical assistance to BCH is already being provided by Banque de lâ€™Habitat Tunisie, on which the BCH business plan is modeled.
The establishment of Banque Congolaise de lâ€™Habitat is a public-private partnership that supports the Governmentâ€™s efforts to promote sustainable, private sector-driven mechanisms for viable and innovative financing of the real estate and housing sector. Self-constructed, low-grade housing remains the primary mode of housing for virtually all urban households in Congo and accounts for nearly 80% of the housing stock. To address this, the Congolese government has partnered with Banque de lâ€™Habitat de Tunisia, which will provide the main technical assistance to BCH during its initial five-years of operation through transfer of its successful business model and the provision of human resources for project management.
The project is aligned with the Bankâ€™s strategy for Congo and falls within FAPAâ€™s areas of intervention, in particular promoting private sector development and strengthening financial systems through technical assistance, i.e., developing sound systems to create, broaden, and deepen financial markets.Â The BCH Project and its TA Program component are consistent with these areas of intervention and address the technical and financial constraints identified as one of the major impediments to the provision of sustainable housing.
The Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) is a component of the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance Initiative (EPSA), a billion-dollar joint initiative of Japan and the AfDB to promote private sector development in Africa. The FAPA trust fund provides untied grants for studies, technical assistance and capacity building for private sector projects and African institutions such as BCH. Since FAPAâ€™s creation in 2006, Japan has contributed USD 30 million while the AfDB has contributed USD 10 million. The award of the present grant brings the total of FAPA commitments to about USD 21 million covering 26 projects across the African continent.