A multi-million dollar housing project by Shelter Afrique and Development Bank of Rwanda that has stalled for nearly two years has been revived, sparking optimism of providing 14,000 Rwandans with decent accommodation.
The project, which was initially supposed to see the construction of more than 2,000 housing units in Rwanda, was initiated by Shelter Afrique and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD).
It was supposed to be implemented within three years.
However, two years down the road there hasn’t been any single housing unit that has been built.
Now the parties involved in the deal have told The New Times that they are committed to revive the project.
“We want it to be launched very soon,” Eric Rutabana, BRD’s Chief Executive Officer, said.
This comes after the parties met with Rwanda’s Minister for Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, and come up with a clear plan of starting full implementation of the project.
Andrew Chimphondah, the Director General of Shelter Afrique, a pan-African finance institution which finances housing and infrastructural projects in Africa, told The New Times that the delays were caused by company’s internal re-organisation exercise.
“Now that we have completed that re-organisation process, we are open for business, and part of that business is to implement this huge public-private partnership project,” he said in an exclusive interview.
However, Rutabana attributed the delay to, among other things, the expropriation process which took longer than expected albeit admitting that a lot could have been done better.
Chimphondah said they have agreed with government on the way forward.
Construction activities are expected to start early next year.
Under the project, known as Rugarama Park Estate, Shelter Afrique and BRD plan to build about 2,800 affordable houses on a-42-hectares piece of land in Nyamirambo Sector, Nyarugenge District.
The project is a public-private partnership that involves more than the two parties. The City of Kigali and Rwanda Housing Authority are also among the partners.
The City of Kigali had provided land, which according to Rutabana, required a lot of work to expropriate people. He said that the work is done, and that the land is now available for development.
Previously, the total budget of the entire housing project was estimated to be at $131 million. Moreover, Rutabana explained that the design of the project was revised and two different developers contracted to work on different pieces of land.
“We split the land into two pieces with one of the developers taking 30 hectares while the rest will take 12 hectares. The 30 hectares has a budget of about $60 million and we haven’t finalised the design with the second developer,” he noted.
The project is expected to accommodate 14,000 people as well as create hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs.
While many people still believe that the so-called affordable houses are not currently affordable, Rutabana said that the houses being built will be cost effective with most of the planned houses expected to cost around Rwf15 million.
He said the maximum cost of the more advanced houses will be well below Rwf32 million.
Shelter Afrique has 44 African states, African Development Bank, and Nigeria’s African Re-insurance Corporation as its shareholders.
Rwanda is one of the shareholders.
The firm says it has so far invested $30 million with the main beneficiaries being BRD, Bank of Kigali and private developers. Most of this investment is through lines of credit.