By DOREEN NAWA
GOVERNMENT has initiated a housing programme to construct at least 12,000 housing units countrywide.
And Government has urged people participating and willing to invest in the public-private partnership (PPP) projects in Zambia to ensure the local context is given much consideration.
Speaking at a conference dubbed Affordable Housing and Development in Zambia organised by the PPP unit in her ministry in Lusaka yesterday, Finance and National Planning Deputy Minister Chileshe Kapwepwe said housing is an important component of sustainable development.
Ms Kapwepwe said the 12,000 housing units will comprise 6,000 low cost houses, 4,500 medium cost ones and 1,500 high cost houses.
She said alongside housing, complementary infrastructure such as clinics, schools, markets and other relevant facilities will be constructed.
The deputy minister said currently, the housing deficit in the country is over a million units despite having a well defined policy.
Ms Kapwepwe said shelter is a basic human need and a fundamental right and enables the nation to meet the housing goal and is key in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“This is the reason the government has seen it fit to ensure that affordable housing is provided for our people. In order to achieve this more effectively, Government is involving the private sector in infrastructure and service delivery at various levels,” she said.
She said the housing programme is also intended to allow individuals with low income to acquire and own houses.
Ms Kapwepwe said Government is exploring means through which an affordable housing programme can be implemented with the help of financial institutions.
“Government is hopeful that the housing project initial phase will stimulate creativity amongst stakeholders that will make it easier for more housing units to be constructed,” she said.
And Ms Kapwepwe said Government expects PPP investors to use local skills and materials.
She said Government is committed to ensure that suppliers and local contractors get involved in Government projects.
Ms Kapwepwe said Government’s commitment to PPPs does not end with the housing programme but includes projects in various sectors such as roads and many others in which the private sector may wish to invest.
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Treasury Likolo Ndalamei said providing affordable housing is part of government’s main objective in the medium and long term of ensuring sustainable socio-economic growth and poverty reduction.
Mr Ndalamei said infrastructure development is a key factor in linking business activities that contribute to economic growth.
He said the existing housing deficit in the country provides an opportunity for private sector investment and growth.
He has since encouraged the private sector to take advantage of the housing deficit and come up with products that will be profitable and at the same time affordable to the general public.