The Minister of Infrastructure, Jimmy Gasore, has said that progress has been made regarding putting to use land in Busanza and Ndera in Kigali for affordable housing purposes. He was responding to MPs' queries over affordable housing in the country during a plenary sitting of the lower House on October 24, including the concern that the government bought the land in question, but it was not utilised for years. ALSO READ: Projects in pipeline to build 15,000 affordable houses within six years Giving an update on the issue, Gasore indicated that for 21 hectares in Busanza (Kicukiro District), 1,260 housing units have been constructed on 11 hectares, adding that Rwanda Housing Authority is working on preparing a list of people who want those houses at the Busanze site. For the remaining 10 hectares, the government got an Indian investor who has already made designs of 1,560 housing units, and the process to provide the land to the investor has started to pave way for the project implementation. “The provision of the land to the investor requires Cabinet approval,” he indicated. 19 hectares of land in Ndera (in Gasabo District), were bought in 2016 and allocated to a Moroccan firm for constructing 1,750 houses, but it did not execute the project. “Now, there are other investors who are carrying out studies for 1,304 housing units, and the exercise is at the final stage, such that studies will be approved by the end of December 2023,” he said. ALSO READ: Kigali needs 18,000 affordable houses annually Gasore said that little progress was made in terms of affordable housing under the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) – which runs from 2017 to 2024 – as there are 2,600 affordable housing units compared to more than 6,000 that were targeted. Under Rwanda’s affordable housing policy, an affordable house is that which does not exceed Rwf40 million, according to information from the Ministry of Infrastructure. It indicated that the number of rooms might vary depending on market or buyer preferences, adding that a buyer has to pay Rwf40 million for an 80-square-metre house. The price can be lower than that depending on the size. It is worth mentioning that a square metre (m2) must not exceed Rwf500,000, as per data from the ministry. Gasore pointed out that the prices of houses – not exceeding Rwf40 million – are, in fact, not high considering the costs of raw materials involved in their construction, indicating that the problem lies in the means of Rwandans as most of them earn small income. Most of the people in the middle class, he indicated, spend more than Rwf40 million on building their houses. This is why the government is considering other ways to meet the housing needs of Rwandans who cannot afford houses available on the market, citing social rental schemes for low-income earners, he told parliamentarians. ALSO READ: Govt mulls direct investment in low-cost housing projects More than half of Rwandans can’t afford affordable houses Meanwhile, a study that was carried out showed that Rwandans who can afford a house without government support are those who make more than Rwf1.2 million a month, Gasore said, pointing out that this category accounts for 2.7 per cent of the total population. He added that 46.5 per cent of Rwandans [who earn between Rwf1.2 million and Rwf200,000 a month] can buy houses with government financial support (under affordable housing initiatives), while those who earn less than Rwf200,000 account for 50.8 per cent cannot even afford the affordable houses – they fall under the social rental housing category as they need a subsidised rental from the government. Overall, MPs said that more effort should be put into ensuring that Rwandans get decent accommodation through low-cost housing schemes that respond to their needs. These include affordable rental housing initiatives, and waiving taxes on construction materials in to bring down the building costs.