The Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) is looking into selling off some of its multi-storey complexes in different towns upcountry.
However, officials at the pension body say no decision has been taken to sell off the plazas.
Confirming the development, Moses Kazoora, the director of communications at the pension body, said there are procedures to be followed in case a sale off is deemed the most viable solution.
“The option of selling the buildings is there and there are procedures to follow and get approval by the concerned authorities. The decision is not yet taken on (massive) sale but that’s part of the option as long as it makes business sense,” he said.
RSSB owns four multi-storey complexes (pension plazas) upcountry; in Nyanza, Southern Province, Karongi in the Western Province, Musanze in the Northern Province, and Rwamagana in the Eastern Province.
This is on top of other complexes the pension body owns in the City of Kigali, one of which has been bought by Zigama CSS.
However, lack of tenants for the buildings has been an issue, with the Auditor-General’s value for money report for 2013/14 raising the red flag after its findings showed that 85 per cent of the Nyanza Pensions Plaza was empty while 78 per cent of the Rwamagana Plaza had not been booked.
Despite that situation, Kazoora told The New Times, last week, that long term targets for the pension plazas’ occupancy will be achieved in the next few years, to ensure they have an occupancy rate of at least 80 per cent.
He said different strategies to increase tenants in the upcountry pension plazas have been put in place, including the increase of publicity campaigns and promotions for the plazas by the Management of Properties at RSSB.
“The issue of occupancy rate in upcountry plazas has been always a priority. This is evidenced by some of them that are already at 53 per cent occupancy and clients are still coming,” Kazoora said.
“We are expecting the plazas to be occupied at 80 per cent in the next few years as these investments were made on a long term basis.”
The official dismissed claims that RSSB rent is too high to attract tenants.
“The low occupancy rate is not about high rent fare; the buildings are priced competitively in relation to the neighbouring houses of the same nature. It should rather be questioned on the basis of their location,” he said.
The RSSB has spent about 30 per cent of its investment portfolio on real estate development, with officials at the board aiming to compete with other real estate developers in the growing market that presents opportunities in the housing industry while also contributing towards infrastructure development in the country.