Â ByÂ Yinka Kolawole
The federal government has pledged to support for Shelter Afrique in the effort to deliver affordable housing to people of the continent of Africa.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, made the promise at 29th Annual General Meeting of Shelter-Afrique held recently in Munyonyo, a suburb in Kampala, Uganda.
Shelter Afrique is a pan-African agency established in 1982 by African governments, ADB, Africa-Reinsurance and CDC with the mandate of mobilizing resources for housing development in Africa.Â The Kenya-based company mobilizes capital from which loan and equity resources can be made available to national housing development institutions in Africa for approved schemes.
The ministerâ€™s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Ibanga Isine, said in a statement, that the minister called for the opening of the regional office of Shelter-Afrique in Abuja to serve the West African sub-region.
He asserted that Africa could fast-track its development by creating strong institutions and mechanisms for service delivery to its people. â€œAfrica should move towards addressing the housing needs of its people, more than ever before and Shelter-Afrique could assist in driving the process,â€ he remarked.
Essien also called for the implementation of the Abuja Action Plan for slum upgrading and mass housing delivery in the continent, noting that the Action Plan was adopted in 2008 at an African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development, held in Nigeria. He held that a full implementation of the development blueprint would resolve the challenges in the continentâ€™s housing sector.
The minister noted that some decisions of the Action Plan addressed financing options for slum upgrading and provision of affordable housing and therefore, called on member states to begin the process of reviewing the progress made so far based on the templates adopted at the meeting.
â€œIn Nigeria for instance, some steps have been taken by the present government, under President Goodluck Jonathan, to ensure the implementation of the plan. Currently, we are planning to organise a national slum summit, nation-wide urban renewal and slum upgrading programmes, construction of 500 affordable housing in all senatorial districts of the country and encouragement of mass housing development through Public Private Partnership.
â€œIn the past, emphasis was focused on direct construction of houses, a situation which failed to address the core problem of the sector. Currently, we have initiated some reforms to guarantee maximum access to land for housing and farming activities by all income groups. Again, we have incorporated urban renewal and slum upgrading programmes in the national budget as well as request for funds to provide infrastructure in areas earmarked for low and medium income housing development,â€ he stated.
He decried situations where developers abscond with loans obtained from Shelter-Afrique for housing delivery, advising that such facilities be negotiated in consultation with national governments as a way of curbing abuses in the utilisation of housing funds obtained from the agency while assuring that the Nigerian government would ensure strict compliance with terms of agreements reached between it and the agency. The Ugandan meeting was attended by delegates from 34 countries in Africa as well as development partners and non governmental organisations.