Plans to improve unplanned settlements in high gear
The New Times
By: James Karuhanga
01 January 2017
A plan first made public in October 2015 on how unplanned slum
settlements can be turned into quality condos in accordance with the
City of Kigali’s master plan is within reach, officials told The New
The Mayor of Kigali, Monique Mukaruliza, and the Executive Director of
Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Robert Mathu, say a consultant tasked
with conducting the initial study had presented encouraging findings
and stakeholders will sit in January and map the way forward.
“The consultant recently presented his report. But that was the first
step. We now have to, among other things, find investors to help us
address the issue of unplanned settlements,” Mukaruliza said.
“I am very optimistic because we have many people advocating for this
project and, nowadays, people are really very sensitive about the issue
of housing. Investors see no risk in this too.”
a financial scheme to enable slum dwellers to move into decent modern housing units
In October 2015, when officials first made public the notion of
exploring ways to spearhead a financial scheme to enable slum dwellers
to move into decent modern housing units, Fidele Ndayisaba, the then
Mayor, said cities all over the world are built by real estate
developers and not individual developers.
The City is looking to help its slum dwellers get modern housing in well-planned environments.
During the inaugural stakeholders’ meeting more than a year ago,
bankers, real estate developers, architects and engineers discussed how
existing unplanned settlements could be turned into sustainable condos
with quality shelter in accordance with the City’s master plan.
“The consultant is coming back in January to see about progress.
Stakeholders including the City of Kigali, the national housing
authority, and others will sit and discuss implementation,” Mathu said.
“The study indicated that the project is feasible but it requires coordination by all concerned entities. There was optimism”.
Kigali has a population of about 1.2 million people, projected to reach 3.8 million by 2040.
Mathu said the role of capital markets was significant in addressing
the financial challenges of the city’s housing project. Access to
capital is one of the critical issues affecting long term viability of
social and affordable housing in emerging countries, he said.
He noted that the study would look into the possibility of housing
schemes that can utilise capital market structures to enable residents
to upgrade to modern houses in line with City of Kigali master plan.
The CMA will mobilize long term capital through mobilization of people
and institutions. Apart from providing legal and supervisory structures
to enable free and easy movement of assets in terms of transferability,
they will also ensure that governing structures and schemes that will
be put in place are appropriate for investors.
Dr Darin Gunesekera, a realtor consultant who set up the Real Estate
Exchange (REEL) in Sri Lanka, and was a capital markets advisor in
Kenya in the past was engaged through IFC/ World Bank to study and
develop the proposal for the novel scheme.
During the 2015 meeting, he explained a methodology called “Social
REITs” for the scheme, which he noted has succeeded to convert
unplanned settlements into regenerated planned parts of cities like in
Sri Lanka and in the Philippines.
Highlighting scenarios in unplanned urban areas such as Kibera slum in
Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Gunesekera said a master plan has to be effected
through equity in the capital markets plan.
According to the consultant, unplanned settlements means there is poor
land-use but with planned settlement land is put to its maximum use.
The main idea is that even though slums might appear congested, the
problem is not population density so much as it is poor land use. In
this regard, it is believed that – as has been done in Colombo, Sri
Lanka, and elsewhere – a good architect can build a larger apartment
that needs much less land and costs less to build.
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