New technology key to more low-cost homes

Tuesday July 18 2017

Aerial view of Kimisagara, Kigali. There is a

Aerial view of Kimisagara, Kigali. There is a shortage of affordable housing partly due to high construction costs in Kigali. PHOTO | FILE | NMG 

KABONA ESIARA
By KABONA ESIARA
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Rwanda is embracing alternative construction technologies in a bid to reduce costs as the government seeks to provide affordable housing for its urban population.

The new technology, which is being pioneered by Swiss firm Skat Consulting Rwanda Ltd at Mpazi in Kimisagara, seeks to address the rising costs of construction and finance, which have made housing unaffordable for many people.

“We are constructing model flats at Kimisagara. Each unit will cost between Rwf5.5 million ($6,500) to Rwf8 million ($9,400) depending on the needs of the community,” said Fatou Dieye, deputy project co-ordinator of Skat Consulting Rwanda Ltd.

Constructing the modern two-storey blocks of eight residential units involves using holed fired clay bricks of different dimensions, which saves on cement, sand and stone.

This technology has been used in Rusizi District, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We put columns in the holes, which saves on the amount of cement and concrete used,” said Ms Dieye, adding, “By having the ground floor acting as the foundation, you reduce the surface area of the roof, as well as the foundation, which are the most expensive stages in construction.”

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She estimates that constructing one square metre of a wall using the new technology is 30 per cent cheaper compared with traditional fired brick.

The building project will run along the heavily settled 4.3 kilometre water drainage channel from Nyakabanda, Rwezamenyo, Gitega and Kimisagara towards Nyabugo.

The government has set up a Rwf209 billion ($247m) fund to finance new home-owners and property developers to reduce borrowing costs aimed at boosting the supply of low cost housing in the country.

The fund could either be used to subsidise mortgage loans or directly provide funding to private developers at low interest rates.

City authorities are under pressure to boost supply of affordable houses after studies found that over 50 per cent of its population are living in overcrowded, low-quality houses.

The city has a shortage of over 400,000 houses, meaning many city dwellers live in unplanned neighbourhoods, according to a report detailing the city’s housing needs and opportunities for investors in the sector.

Part of the shortage is a result of slow returns on investments as construction costs remain high in the country.

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