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A recent study by UN-Habitat reports that Ghana’s housing need is expected to hit 5.7 million units by 2020. The analysis highlights that housing in the country has never been a significant component of the country’s national economic planning, but has been seen rather as part of its welfare sector. As much as 90 percent of Ghana’s housing stock has been produced through self-build. According to the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, the slow pace of residential property construction is now changing. Since 2005, completions and new building plan approvals have increased. Permit approvals for registered real estate developers and parastatal real estate developers have more than doubled. In 2012, activity declined somewhat, however, with cement production increasing by only 5.82 percent, compared with an increase of 11.22 percent in 2010. This was mainly due to a temporary shutdown of the West African Cement production plant following a lightening storm. Cement prices increased by 85% from GH¢14 (US$7.38) to GH¢25. This affected the entire construction industry – although by the middle of the year, the crisis seems to have abated.

 

There is some delivery of housing by the government. Players include the Social Security and National Insurance Trust and the State Housing Company. Housing developments driven by the state, which primarily targets the public service, have, however, been unable to significantly dent the demand. Over the 10-year period 1991 – 2000, state housing institutions produced less than 40 000 mortgageable units. In 2012, a high profile development being driven by Korean construction firm STX, and which promised the delivery of 200 000 units, came to a halt due to difficulties in contracting arrangements. Concerns among the Ghanaian construction sector that local players had been sidelined in the project were also an issue. A second initiative by a local developer for the delivery of 10 000 affordable housing units has also been reported as having problems. Since the collapse of the STX programme, there have been reports of some smaller developments for public sector housing, but nothing significant. South African firm, Bigen Africa, has offered technical capacity and support in addressing Ghana’s housing backlog. Development in the upper income market remains vibrant, as developers scale-up on the need for high end expatriate accommodation. Companies such as Taysec and Clifton Homes offer housing in the US$100 000 to US$600 000 and above range – this covers two bedroom apartments to four to five bedroom homes.

 

The Tema Ashaiman Municipal Slum Upgrading Fund provides useful lessons for slum upgrading, and integrated development for the poor. Funded in part by UN-Habitat, the project is driven by the Ministry of Local Government in Ghana, and two municipalities. UN-Habitat provided a grant of US$400 000 as a capital enhancement, and a further $100 000 for administration and development. A further $400 000 capital enhancement grant is expected. Working with People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements, the first project will develop houses and shops, and ultimately an entire integrated development for the slum dwellers involved. By marking land both for residential and commercial purposes, the project addresses to some extent the competing land uses that often undermine the poor’s access to well located land.

 

Homeless International has been working in Ghana since 2003. It has partnered with the Peoples’ Dialogue on Human Settlements to support Ghana’s urban poor to advocate for their rights to adequate housing, safe settlements, secure tenure and affordable infrastructure.

 

Property Market

 

Demand for housing has accompanied generally good economic performance. Incomes of middle-class Ghanaians have risen gradually together with lively property markets. A significant rise in the number of Ghanaians living abroad who want to own houses back home, foreign buyers of residential property, and foreign investment by multinational companies into the country, have all contributed to growth in the market.

 

With the growth of the oil and gas industry in Ghana, private sector development of upmarket homes is rampant and almost all selling off-plan; these prices range from upwards of US$300 000 to more than US$1 million. Property rentals in the middle to upper sector range between US$2 500 and US$8 000 a month.

 

Ghana’s construction industry continues grow steadily. In the past decade, the industry’s annual growth in 2008 and 2009 was 8.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. A more recent challenge has been the apparent market saturation with cheap but low-quality imported building materials, which has had a direct, negative impact on the local manufacturing industries.

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