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Plans are underway for a new housing project that will see at least 5,000 affordable condos constructed in four parts of the city, according to an official from Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA).

The construction will be of wide range
The construction will be of wide range

Eng. Leopold Uwimana, the head of construction in RHA, said at least 1,200 housing units will be constructed in each of the four 20-hectare plots that have been identified in Ndera (Gasabo District), Kanombe (Kicukiro District), and Nyamirambo and Kigali sectors of Nyarugenge District.

The units, which will be split from multi-storey apartment blocks, will be in four categories of three-bedroom, two-bedroom, one bedroom and a single room self-contained house, aka, studio.

The financing  

Uwimana said government will provide land and infrastructure (roads, water and electricity) and after bidding process, successful developers will build the houses.

Property evaluation is already ongoing to pave way for expropriation and eventual construction.

Uwimana said government will monitor to ensure “desired affordability is respected” because with the incentives that government will put in place, the houses must be within most people’s means.

After selecting the lowest bidding developer, terms of reference will be drawn and construction will kick off.

“For a house to be affordable, the Ministry of Infrastructure is considering people in the salary range of between Rwf100,000 to Rwf450,000 per month and are not home owners. They also calculated that an affordable house should not exceed $300 (about Rwf200,000) per square metre,” Uwimana said.

This predetermined selling price contains the developers’ profit margin.

The standard home area requirement is such that a three bedroom house’s maximum area is 100 square metres, while two-bedroom and one-bedroom condos do not exceed 60 and 40 square metres, respectively.

For the studio, the area does not exceed 22 square metres.

When ensuring affordability, every category is multiplied by the predetermined selling price ($300 per square metre) to get total cost of a unit.

This means that a three-bedroom house sitting on 100 square metres of land will go for $30,000 (about Rwf21 million), while a studio covering 22 square metres would be bought at $6,600 (about Rwf4.4 million).

“We have models from other countries. The cost of land and infrastructure can go up to 50 per cent. But when land is provided, I think, there are no other incentives which can be afforded by government unless it is discussed between stakeholders working groups,” Uwimana said.

An agreement linking concerned institutions led by RHA, the implementing institution is in the pipeline to consider all possibilities, he explained.

Will current settlers afford? 

Considering best practices elsewhere, including in Ethiopia, Uwimana said, the question of who benefits “is something that must be carefully considered” because apart from low income earners, government must think about people currently settled on the land.

Most of the people living in suburbs where the apartments will be built, do not fall in the range of Rwf100,000 to Rwf450,000 monthly income earners but, he stressed, the current policy stipulates that to avoid unorganised informal settlements, people in the area must be given priority.

“The money we give them during expropriation for their land and property can be used to purchase a unit after we finish construction. That is a principle that Mininfra wants to use,” he said.

Other targeted beneficiaries are public servants falling in the set monthly earning range.

In Kanombe, a valuation exercise is underway and will run for three months. Expropriation will begin in September and Uwimana is “very optimistic” construction will start in January 2015.

“These will be standard size houses. Not the ordinary tiny units where people squeeze in,” Uwimana said, adding that the kind of technology (prefab) they want to be used makes construction works easier such that the project will be at 50 per cent completion within 12 months.

RHA plans to extend similar projects to upcountry locations.

The City of Kigali director of media and communication, Bruno Rangira, says a recent study indicates that the current formal housing market only supplies roughly 1,000 units annually, while the city needs around 31,000 every year.

Richard Niwenshuti, from the national capacity building secretariat, welcomed the initiative.

“You can even make it Rwf25 million, for an average salary of Rwf300,000. This makes it easy for civil servants to own homes someday. This would be fair enough,” says Niwenshuti.

“There is value here as long as it is a quality home with guarantee. For many civil servants, owning a home will be a dream-come-true.”

The New Times