Kenya’s government is working on innovative ways of delivering affordable houses to Kenyans, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
Speaking at the first Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly at Gigiri in Nairobi, the president said that the government has embraced new building technologies and is actively involving the private sector as a key partner in the delivery of one of the key promises of his administration’s Big 4 development agenda.
He said traditional approaches to the housing challenges have failed to keep up with the rising demands for decent shelter as the population expands. “So we are keenly focused on the manner in which we improve the provision of this service,” the President added.
“Our ambition to provide our citizens with affordable housing is entrenched in our Constitution 2010 which ascribes the right to accessible and adequate housing and reasonable standards of sanitation. It is also aligned to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which we have endorsed,” Said Mr Kenyatta.
Affordable housing is part of President Kenyatta’s four pillars, dubbed Big4 agenda which includes: food security, affordable housing, universal health care, manufacturing and Job creation.
Noting that the government alone is not in a position to satisfy the housing needs of Kenyans, the Head of State said his administration is employing new innovative ways of attracting private sector partnerships to support the delivery of affordable houses.
“Our target is to provide 500,000 new units which, for Kenya, it is going to be a major milestone because our demand currently is about 200,000 units a year,” the President told delegates.
“We need to look into the future, use technology and innovation in order to achieve the objective of providing our people with affordable housing,” he emphasized.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to be involved too
The President said the government’s call for partnership with the private sector is not limited to big investors but also the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He said the Kenyan government has established a mortgage liquidity facility, the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC), with the objective of supporting the development of primary and secondary mortgage markets by providing secure, long term funding to mortgage lenders as one of the ways of creating a conducive environment for the private sector in the housing sector to succeed.
President Kenyatta took the opportunity to renew his commitment to the new urbanization agenda and urged all stakeholders in the housing sector to support the initiative.
He also affirmed Kenya’s commitment to the UN’s climate change agenda which calls for action to combat climate change and its impacts.
The President emphasized the need for collaboration in implementing measures that will protect the environment and promote sustainable use of natural resources.
“Let us all work together to achieve the objectives of the new urban agenda for the benefit of the current and future generations,” President Kenyatta said.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir said the private sector in his country is still small, adding that plans are afoot to attract those willing to partner with his government in the provision of affordable housing.
Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said involving the private sector in the supply of affordable houses and addressing other challenges of urbanization is a must if countries are keen on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Other speakers at the High Level Strategy Dialogue included Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed of Yemen, UN-Habitat Assembly President Martha Delgado and UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif.