Finance minister Matia Kasaija has decried the shortage of local content in Uganda’s construction sector, which he said is one of the reasons housing is very expensive since the imported materials used in building are bought with dollars.
The minister said using locally produced materials in construction would bring down costs and make it possible for Ugandans to afford decent housing.
Kasaija was speaking at the Uganda Housing Finance Conference, where he was the guest of honour, currently ongoing at Kampala Serena Hotel.
The minister also appealed to the financial sector to provide cheap financial products that enable ordinary Ugandans to acquire decent housing. He was particularly concerned about people living in rural areas, saying it is shameful people still live in grass-thatched houses. Cheap housing financing that makes it possible to acquire decent housing would help end this, he said.
Kasaija however said that incomes have to go up in order for mortgages to become more affordable, and that government is overseeing a number of wealth creation programs to achieve this. The programs should enable people afford mortgages for cheap housing, he said.
The government will partner with the private sector to set up more planned housing estates under the new national housing policy, which was launched earlier this month, according to the minister.
Kasaija’s comments on affordable housing follow similar remarks by the state minister for housing, Chris Baryomunsi. While briefing Parliament on the new national housing policy early this month, Baryomunsi said that 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. This is to enable it build cheaper housing.
After taking over the NHCC, government intends to capitalise the company with Shs100 billion in the 2016/2017 financial year to enable it undertake “key projects,” according to Baryomunsi.
Kasaija said that Uganda needs about 2000 new housing units annually, according to the 2015/16 –2019/20 National Development Plan. And due to the rapid population growth, 12.6 million new housing units will have to be built in the next 30 years, he said.
The Uganda Housing Finance Conference brings together stakeholders and key players in the housing value chain to exchange ideas on how to improve the housing industry and housing finance sector in Uganda. It is organised by Housing Finance Bank, NSSF Uganda, National Housing and Construction Company, and Umeme Limited.