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Will the Kenyan government manage to provide cheap housing to Kenyans?

Kenya is one of the world’s fastest-urbanizing country, and expanding access to housing will be crucial in cities and other urban areas seeking to ensure sustainable growth.

       According to a research that was carried out by UN-Habitat in 2010, the majority of Kenyans will live in urban areas by 2030. Currently over 60% of Kenyan city-dwellers are residing in informal settlements.

     Kenya has a population of approximately 40 million. The current level of urbanization in Kenya is 40% and it is expected to rise up to 50% by the year 2030.

 The research went ahead to say that approximately 10% of Kenya’s population lives in Nairobi County. Over 60% of Nairobi’s population lives in slums occupying about 1.62 % of Nairobi’s land. This percentage of land is less than the land taken up by golf courses and parks.

In a bid to curb this, the Kenyan government is set to partner with 35 private firms to construct a million housing units by the year 2023 at the cost of Ksh. 2.6 trillion. This move is meant to solve the issue of housing to the Kenyans who live in the urban areas.

According to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, the project is in line with one of President Uhuru Kenyatta's big four action plan.

As a step towards implementing the New Urban Agenda, parliament has approved a number of facilitative policies which include the National Urban Development Policy, National Building Maintenance Policy and National Slum Upgrading and Prevention Policy. In addition, parliament will soon enact the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

However, despite this being a good move, the government did not put into consideration various factors which are key to the realization of this project.

According to Prittworld Properties & Mortgages Limited, Managing Director Daniel Maina, the government should first channel its resources in infrastructural development in the areas its set to put up these houses. Such factors are important since most people cannot settle in areas where vital amenities like roads, water and electricity are not in place.

“The government should also consider lowering the interest rate for mortgages since most low income earning Kenyans cannot afford them. Currently the rates are being controlled by the banks and thus Kenyans fear to apply due to the fear of being unable to repay them in future” he said.

He went ahead to say that most Kenyans lack the liquidity of applying for mortgages hence these houses will only benefit the rich thus not solving the issue of slums in Kenya.

“The government also needs to sensitize the public on the need to apply mortgage since most Kenyans lack’s the awareness of this service” he said.

The issue of land is also a thorn in the fresh to the government since most people will not be willing to sell out their land to be developed because the government may not compensate them handsomely as a private developer would.

Mr. Maina added that most developers target middle and high class earners since they have big return on their investment and thus most of them will not be willing to invest in this project due to the fear of not recovering their money on time.

He concluded by urging the government to engage all the stake holders such as banks, developers and contractors for it to get amicable solution to these challenges. He said that these stake holders can give the government better ideas on how to go about this project. He pointed out that failure to do so might lead to loss of large amount of money.

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