World Bank Group convenes stakeholders to deliberate financing EAC devt in Kigali

An aerial view of a housing estate in Kibagabaga, Gasabo District. (File)

Business leaders, financiers and policymakers will today convene in Kigali to discuss ways to accelerate access to finance for investments in housing, agribusiness and tourism in East African Community (EAC) countries at the 2018 Development Finance Forum.

The summit, organised by World Bank Group seeks to mull ways to accelerate private investments in three sectors that have proven to drive growth and job creation.

The summit’s organisers say the focus on affordable housing is aimed at addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the region and at the same time creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Eliminating the housing shortage would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, many of them suitable for young workers, boost economic growth, and improve the lives of millions. This event will bring together thought leaders and executives from both public and private sectors to look at regulatory, supply, construction, and financing issues across the housing value chain,” the organisers noted.

For instance, in the case of Kigali, a 2012 study by the City of Kigali, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the European Union showed that Kigali could face a housing deficit of 344,000 homes in 2020.

Presently, between 800 and 1,000 housing units are constructed annually, the majority targeting high-income earners, leaving the majority of city dwellers without decent housing options.

To address the housing shortage, the city needs to build at least 31,000 housing units annually, according to the study to ensure city dwellers get quality shelter. Low and middle-income earners were found to make up about two-thirds of all new housing demand.

The sessions will explore solutions within and outside East Africa that encourage private investment.

In agribusiness, the participants will build on past regional initiatives to catalyse public and private sector collaboration in agricultural value chains to unlock opportunities for effective investment, increase competitiveness and achieve development objectives.

The summit will also explore possibilities of growing tourism through destination development tourism as a powerful vehicle for economic growth and job creation.

“Trillions of dollars of under-invested capital in the developed world are seeking higher returns at the same time as developing countries seek capital as well as expertise, knowledge and implementation capacity to grow. What can we do now to accelerate these linkages in housing, agribusiness and tourism in East African Community (EAC) countries, three sectors with significant growth and job creation potential?,” a concept note of the summit reads in part.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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