Government to take full control of National Housing, minister says

Kiwana Apartments in Bugolobi, Kampala, constructed by the NHCC. Most Ugandans cannot afford such housing. Photo: NHCC
Kiwana Apartments in Bugolobi, Kampala, constructed by the NHCC. Most Ugandans cannot afford such housing. Photo: NHCC

The government plans to take full control of the National Housing and Construction Company, eleven years after selling a minority stake in the company to the Libyan government, Chris Baryomunsi, the state minister for housing told Parliament on Thursday.

Baryomunsi was making a statement on the state of housing in Uganda in which he updated Parliament on the new national housing policy, which was approved by cabinet in May 2016.

The minister said government launched the policy to “provide adequate housing for all.”

“One of the challenges we have in the housing sector is the lack of long-term credit which is affordable and sustainable,” Baryomunsi said. “The development of housing has largely been left to the market forces led by the private sector with little participation by government.”

Government’s takeover of the NHCC would enable it build more affordable housing, according to the minister.

Last month, Baryomunsi told journalists that after taking full control of the NHCC, government will capitalise the company with Shs100 billion in the 2016/2017 financial year to enable it undertake “key projects.”

The Uganda government has a 51% controlling stake in NHCC, which was established by an act of parliament in 1964, while the Libyan government owns the rest of the shares. Uganda agreed to transfer 49% of the company to Libya in 2002, apparently to settle a $20.3 million loan; the deal was concluded in 2005.

According to Baryomunsi’s statement to parliament, Uganda – whose population exceeds 35 million people – has 7.3 million households and a deficit of 2.1 million houses. Most Ugandans, especially those living in urban areas, struggle with a housing deficit which seems to worsen every year, he said.

The minister asked local council leaders, especially in municipalities and other urban areas, to avail land to government to expedite the construction of ‘desired houses.’

However, the leader of opposition in government, Winnie Kiiza, faulted government for poor execution of housing projects in her reaction to the statement. She cited the Naguru-Nakawa estate, where ordinary people were asked to leave their houses for a new housing project only to have it shared among wealthy individuals.

Kiiza said the delayed construction of the housing project in Naguru housing estates will have others thinking twice before they surrender their land to government for proposed developments.