The need to provide adequate and equitable housing has remained a major priority of present and past governments. The population and housing census indicates that Ghana is facing an acute housing problem with housing deficit of over 1.5 million units in 2000 and over 2 million in 2010.This indicates an increase in deficit but governments in those days were building houses to solve this problem but why an increase?
My question is, can Ghana government build houses to solve housing deficit? The answer is a big “NO”. Why no, there have been several attempts by pass governments to put up affordable houses but all failed. For instance, former president John A. Kuffuor sought to reduce the crisis by initiating 20,000 affordable housing units in 2001 and in 2007 about 4500 units were started but as we speak non is completed, and successive governments also sought to reduce the crisis and even introduce mortgages to help but none is yielding results.
Present government is trying his best to address the crisis by supporting the construction of affordable houses and access to mortgages and my question again is can the average Ghanaian be able to buy the so call affordable houses and access these mortgages. And the answer again is a big “NO”. One bedroom affordable apartment in Asokore Mampong Housing Project is GH₵99,000, is this what we called affordable? How can an average Ghanaian who earns between GH₵800.00-GH₵1000.00 per month acquire this type of building?
My findings: There are only two possible strategies government can use to reduce or solve housing deficit in Ghana;
- Regulating prices and ownership of Land. Price of lands are increasing day in and day out and the rich are also acquiring vest acres of land without developing them and also causing the increase in prices, causing the average Ghanaian not able to buy even a single plot. The government can make policies which will determine the number of plots one can buy within a specific time and also set-up the maximum price a land can be sold in the country. The government can even use his powers (eminent domain) to acquire lands across the country and redistribute or sell at a low price to the people. Even in less competitive towns like Kintampo and Wenchi, a plot of land averagely is around GH₵5000.00 How can the average man within these localities buy a plot of land for building, even such lands are not without land disputes (Multiple Sale). Hence government must step in to set up maximum price for land or acquire vest lands and redistribute them.
- Regulating prices of constructional materials. If building materials were to be as low as possible many people will be able to build their own houses. Before the increase in materials, averagely it will have cost between GH₵35,000-GH₵150,000 to build 3-bedroom bungalow and now with these increases, how will low-middle income Ghanaian able to raise GH₵35,000 to build such a house, but in a situation where prices of building materials are as low as possible and the construction of 3-bedroom bungalow can go as low as between GH₵15,000-GH₵90,000 it will be possible for the average Ghanaian to build.
In Summary the best alternative way to solve housing deficit in Ghana is to; Regulate prices and ownership of land in Ghana and regulate prices of building materials. If not this our kind of government structure where when there is a change of government the projects of the former is overlooked, we will be having a lot of uncompleted houses and increasing housing deficits.
(Valuation &Estate Division)