Housing is a basic human right. It contributes to the survival of life and the establishment of society. With this basic need in mind I find that Rwanda faces a grave shortage where the provision of housing is concerned.
Currently more than 25,000 units are needed annually to address the housing shortage countrywide according to statistics from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
It’s no secret that Rwandans living in the Diaspora today are being encouraged to return home and as Rwanda develops, more Rwandans are feeling comfortable about returning.
When they return they need to find housing with running water, electricity, sanitation services and accessibility to the transport system.
As these Rwandans return, a lot needs to be done to reduce the housing deficit.
First of all, I think that KCC’s ‘City Master Plan’ is the solution for Kigali; more especially because it will promote housing projects worth US $600 million.
Rwanda’s housing construction sector is largely financed by mortgages. Statistics from the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) reveal that a single house costs about Rwf20 million on average.
This means that a financing package for the public’s total housing demand (20,000 units a year) would cost Rwf 500billion annually.
Yet, the current demand for mortgage from the public is much higher than what the housing banks in Rwanda can offer.
This makes it exceedingly costly for the average Rwandan to own a house only those with big incomes can access mortgages because they can pay back the mortgage.
On the other hand, those with low incomes have to save for years to accumulate an amount close to Rwf10 million, which then allows them to access a housing mortgage.
We cannot forget that construction is dependent on imported materials such as corrugated iron sheets for roofing, cement, reinforcing steel and other imported hardware.
The cost of these construction materials makes even simple housing beyond the reach of many ordinary people.
It’s been even harder to get a mortgage in this economic climate, as banks attempt to keep their monies in the midst of this credit crunch.
Rwanda continues to grow and exploit its potential for real estate investment as it attempts to attract international real estate developers.
People living here in Rwanda, and those who will move back, need to be accommodated, not in makeshift slums, but in decent homes at an affordable rate.
The author is a journalist with The New Times