by Ronald Njoroge
NAIROBI, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to launch a 20 billion U.S. dollar social housing project to ease the housing deficit, a senior government official said on Monday.
James Macharia, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, told a media briefing in Nairobi that a request for interest has been issued to international and domestic firms to undertake the mass low-cost housing venture.
"We have received interest from over 60 firms that have undertaken similar social housing projects elsewhere and we will soon award the contract after completion of the tender process," Macharia said during the Stakeholders Forum on Validation of Kenya Building Research Centers Strategic Plan 2017 to 2022.
Under the project, the east African nation plans to construct one million low-cost houses at a cost of 20,000 dollars each, over the next five years.
"We are going to borrow heavily from nations such as China that have been able to construct high-rise apartments which are safe for human occupation at an affordable cost in order to roll out a high number of quality houses," he said.
Macharia noted that Kenya currently has a housing deficit of 1.85 million houses due to rapid urbanization.
"This has led to the proliferation of slums as supply cannot cope with the rising demand," he added.
The cabinet secretary said that the social houses will be built through a public-private partnership as government resources are not sufficient to construct the houses.
The private sector will be offered a number of incentives and subsidies in order to ensure the houses are affordable to ordinary citizens.
The ministry of infrastructure, housing and urban development is fast tracking the enactment of the Kenya Building Research Institute bill that will create a research organization to spearhead innovation of the latest technology to lower the cost of construction in the country.