Accra, Ghana 28 November 2006 - At the opening session of the first West Africa High-Level Peer Exchange meeting on Affordable Housing, H.E. President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor reiterated on the fact that housing brings to mind the problems associated with population, adding that Ghana’s current population of 20 million is set to increase by 50 per cent by 2025 with the growth rate of between 2.7 – 3 per cent.
He added that urban centers which are already bursting at the seams from rural-urban drifts bear the brunt of rapid urbanization. And it is anticipated that Ghana’s urban population will be about 52 per cent of the national total growth. And central to this rapid urban growth are housing shortages and poor sanitation.
The Under Secretary-General, United Nations, Director-General of the United Nations Offices at Nairobi (UNON) and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said in her opening statement that UN-Habitat’s research revealed that in 2005 sub-Saharan Africa had 199 million slum dwellers constituting some 20 per cent of the world’s total slum population. Sub-Saharan Africa has both the world’s highest annual urban growth rate of 4.58 per cent and the high annual slum growth rate of 4.53 per cent. This is double the world average.
Mrs. Tibaijuka gave the example of Ghana that in 2005 the country had 5.4 million slum dwellers. UN-Habitat’s projection show that the number of slum dwellers will reach 7.1 million by the year 2020 if drastic measures are not taken to tackle the scourge of urban poverty in the country. Many African countries, she added had not yet woken up to the problems o f urbanization. That is why the Agency is working with NEPAD to establish the NEPAD City programme for inclusive cities with security of tenure for the urban poor and with the African Union to promote the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD).
Hon. Alphonso Jackson, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shared experiences on Housing Finance in the United States of America, (USA). He said that 70 years ago America was a country of renter’s with one in 7 families not owning a home. However, the lives of most America was changed through long-term mortgage financing.
He explained that housing makes up a major portion of the Gross National Product (GNP) of the United States.
Ghana’s Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang noted that housing and home ownership is key to the overall development of any nation, as it impacts directly on the social, health and economic status of citizens. The Government, he said, has given much thought and effort to providing viable and sustainable solutions to the housing deficit and recognizes that the problem can only be solved with the active participation of the private sector.
The West Africa High-Level meeting on Government Enablement of Private Lending for Affordable Housing is sponsored by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Other international patners participating in the meeting include: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), The World Bank, senior government officials, private sector housing finance practitioners, real estate development and development practitioners from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Benin, Mali, Liberia, Cape Verde, the United States of America and Canada.
Recent estimates indicate that more than 2 billion people will be added to the number of urban dwellers in the developing countries over the next 25 years. If adequate financial resources are not invested in the development of urban shelter and requisite services, this additional population will be trapped in urban poverty, deplorable housing conditions, poor health and low productivity thus compounding the enormous slum challenge that exists today.
Urban population growth in Ghana is at 2.7 per cent per year. This is distributed into 48, 000 human settlements and 44 per cent classified as urban live in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western Regions. Accra and Kumasi have population of 1.2 million each.
The national housing deficit is estimated at 500,000 units and 364,000 new houses are needed annually which has brought about an acute pressure on basic housing services and infrastructure.
The reality of housing situation in many developing countries means that new ways of micro-financing and community funds have to be encouraged if the poor are to be provided with adequate shelter and basic services.
For more information, please contact: Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson & Head Media Relations Unit, Ms. Zahra Hassan, Press & Media Liaision, Tel: (254 20) 7623153/623151, E-mail; Habitat.email@example.com (Accra Mobile: +0246927799)
or MS. Valerie Patrick , Project Development Advisor, Program Development Branch, Human Settlements Financing Division, Tel: +254 20 765039, Fax: +254 20 764265 (Accra Mobile +0246757902)