1 000 Mass Houses Ready By September

APPROXIMATELY 1 000 houses built under the first phase of the N$2,9 billion mass housing initiative are scheduled to be handed over by the President Hifikepunye Pohamba by 30 September 2014, according to CEO of National Housing Enterprise (NHE), Vinson Hailulu.

“The mass housing project has been the biggest development initiative Namibia has undertaken since independence,” said Hailulu at Walvis Bay last week, where he explained how government had to come up with a revolutionary way of delivering housing to Namibia.

Hailulu said some of the obstacles are the limited investment in municipal services infrastructure and “the lack of common strategic objectives and direction.”

He emphasised the importance of creating an alignment between local authorities and to make sure that none of the sectors involved is fragmented.

He addressed the issue of mushrooming informal settlements and explained that even though over 110 000 units (to date) were planned to be built, this does not match the demand. “There is slow land delivery because of the various approval processes you have to go through” he explained.

The blueprint for this project is in alignment with Vision 2030, in terms of which the NHE expects to deliver 185 000 units in the next 16 years.

“Housing in Namibia is the fourth most expensive in the world,” Hailulu said, “and everybody is suffering, even the private sector. By launching this mass housing project, you create economic empowerment through the ownership of a tradeable asset,” Hailulu explained.

“This is the most sustainable way of building wealth,” he said, “because it can be used as security for asset generation.” Namibia has the chance of being one of the few countries in the world to stimulate economic growth with a programme of this nature. By focusing on the immediate impact of this development, Hailulu used examples of how the project will, for instance, contribute to employment opportunities.

This project will provide jobs to over 5 000 Namibians, he said.

“If this is successfully implemented, it will impact the entire economy, the whole industry, and will create a chain reaction.” Hailulu said. He also claimed that policies regarding land redistribution must be redefined, as Namibians should not only focus on farming.

Hailulu explained that “… for Namibia to eradicate poverty, the economy must be transformed.” He encouraged SMEs and private contractors to assist in this regard, as it would not be ideal for the government to create a construction section just for this purpose when the local businesses are capable of doing it.

Together with building all these new houses, he also emphasized the importance of upgrading existing informal settlements, estimated at around 50 000 households. The total investment for the entire project is over N$45 billion, N$2,9 billion being the annual figure.

Source : The Namibian