Stakeholders in the building and construction sector have called on the government to facilitate the establishment of assembly plants for the production of materials needed by the housing industry.
They said that such a move, as is done in the automotive sector, would help reduce the cost of materials and, therefore, the cost of housing in the country.
Mr. Ebenezer Kwadwo Saka Addo-Mensah, Managing Director of Saka Homes, a real estate and land development company, made this recommendation to the government.
He was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview on the sidelines of a breakfast with industry players in Accra on Thursday.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Investor Mapping Meeting was themed: “Identifying Opportunities and Strengthening Local Participation in the Housing and Infrastructure Sectors”.
It was organized by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Mr Addo-Mensah said creating an enabling environment for companies with the capacity to establish factories in the country would: “It would go a long way in reducing costs.
He explained that, “For example, the cost of tiles produced in Takoradi at the moment is much lower than the tiles we import, and that’s where my company buys.”
The property developer added, “We can replicate the same with other building materials like ceramics, louvers, and ceilings.”
“When we produce them locally, it also creates jobs for us. So it’s something we should consciously look at.
He noted that there were opportunities for the government to reduce the housing deficit by around 85,000 housing units per year, and the overall needs of two million housing units before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Addo-Mensah said, “GIPC is able to attract such investment to Ghana. The government just needs to provide incentives that will entice these companies to come here, including tax exemptions, maybe free land.
Ghana needs a total of $9.3 billion a year to fill its infrastructure gap, 20% of this amount ($1.86 billion) is needed in the housing sector.
Mr. Yofi Grant, Chief Executive of the GIPC, said such a funding shortfall required significant investment in the housing and infrastructure sector.
He said the Center facilitates investment in the housing sector by talking to private sector actors and partnering with UNDP through the investor map to identify critical areas where they could contribute to economic growth.
He said the government was using the One District-One Factory (1D1F) initiative to incentivize private companies, including indigenous businesses, to produce some of the materials needed for the housing sector.
Mr Grant noted that: ‘The government was providing localization incentives, duty-free on factories, equipment and machinery for manufacture for local consumption and export.’
Around 60% of the working population in Ghana needs help to access housing and around 35% cannot access housing even with government support through subsidies.
This, said Mr. Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, presented opportunities for the private sector to partner with the government in its quest to close the infrastructure gap.
He noted that numerous studies, including those conducted by UNDP, had proven that the growth of infrastructure and services could play a crucial role in economic growth and poverty reduction.
He added that: “It also improves human security, especially of the poor, by contributing to their food, occupational, health, community, personal and environmental security.”