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Shelter Afrique, GHL Bank partner to deliver low-cost houses

By: Jessica Acheampong
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Pan African finance institution, Shelter Afrique, is in talks with mortgage provider GHL Bank to provide funding for the construction of 2,000 housing units at a lower cost at Bijou Homes in the country.

Bijou Homes, which is beeing jointly developed by Apollonia, Harborough, Apollonia Development Company and funded by GHL Bank has already provided 100 housing units under the pilot phase. 

The next phase which is starting next year is, therefore, expected to see a reduction in the cost of the units to ensure that more people can afford it.

The Chief Executive and Managing Director of Shelter Afrique, Mr Andrew Chimphondah, who was in the country to visit Bijou Homes at the weekend, said the biggest challenge of the housing industry in Ghana was affordability, hence the need to introduce the right building methodologies and government support to subsidise the cost of housing units.

He said most developers were more interested in doing commercial buildings than building middle to upper income type of houses because they wanted to make as much profit on the units they put up. 

“We at Shelter Afrique are willing to work with developers who are willing to develop at scale. This is because when you develop at scale and you enjoy the benefits of economies of scale, you are able to reduce the cost,” he said in an interview on November 6.

Addressing the challenge
Mr Chimphondah said Shelter Afrique viewed housing as a crisis in Africa because on the continent, there was a shortage in houses of 56 million units, which required about US$2 trillion to resolve. In Ghana, the housing deficit is estimated at about two million housing units.

“The problem is we do not have affordable units. We do not have units that the majority of the population can afford. What we do at Shelter Afrique is that we intervene on the supply side by entering into Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the government and private sector to reduce the cost of houses,” he said.

He said in Ghana, one of the biggest challenges was accessing affordable land which often translated into higher cost for the units.

“One of the biggest challenges in Ghana is access to land which is affordable. So if the land is not affordable, the end price is going to be high.

Shelter Afrique
Shelter Afrique is the only pan-African finance institution exclusively supporting the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.

Mr Chimphondah said the company gave GHL Bank, formerly known as Ghana Home Loans, its first loan in 2014, explaining that the vision was to ensure that Africans had access to decent and affordable houses.

“We have been around for 36 years and we operate in 44 countries in Africa. We have done 17,700 projects in Africa and we have approved about US$41.2 billion in projects,” he said.

In Ghana specifically, Shelter Afrique has approved US$55.6 million worth of projects.

The visit
The MD said the visit was to reiterate the company’s commitment to fund the next phase of the project at Bijou Homes and help reduce the prices for the project.

“We are here to express our commitment that we will be funding the next phase and we will be working hand in hand with them to reduce their price for the cost of the future units,” he said.

The Head, Special Projects, GHL Bank, Mr Edward Nyarko, said the plan was to build 2,000 units over the next 10 years at Bijou Homes, explaining that the feedback from the pilot phase had been positive.

He said the partnership with Shelter Afrique was to help leverage on the expertise on line of credit available to help deliver the low-cost units to the Ghanaian populace.