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General News Tue, 17 Jan 2012

Failed STX deal: Govt falls on Shelter Afrique on housing project

The government has begun talks with Shelter Afrique, the largest housing development support organisation in Africa, as part of its efforts at securing alternative funding for the botched STX housing project.

A delegation from Shelter Afrique, led by its Chief Executive, Mr Alhassane Ba, held a meeting with President John Evans Atta Mills at the Castle in Accra yesterday to inform him of the organisation’s investment plans for Ghana.

Established in 1982, Shelter Afrique operates to mobilise financial and technical resources for funding housing development in Africa.

It aims at remaining a leading strategic partner for the efficient delivery of real estate and other related services in Africa through collaborative partnerships with all actors in the shelter delivery process.

Ghana is the third largest shareholder in Shelter Afrique with its 8. 4 per cent shares, and the pan-African organisation plans to invest about $100 million in its initial plan for housing development in Ghana.

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The government believes partnering Shelter Afrique will yield immense dividends in its quest to build affordable houses for Ghanaian workers.

Fears among a section of the public that the STX housing project will be a fiasco were allayed when the President gave an indication that the government was looking for alternative sources of funding to bring the project on stream.

President Mills said the government’s decision to join Shelter Afrique last year was informed by the critical role the organisation was playing in the development of the housing sector on the continent.

He said the government remained committed to addressing the housing deficit in Ghana, indicating that more housing units were needed to shelter hundreds of Ghanaians.

Underscoring the seriousness of the project to Ghana, President Mills remarked, “Anyone who shows interest in helping to beef up our housing stock is someone we have to sit and talk with. ”

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He gave an assurance that the government would take the partnership with the 30-year-old organisation very seriously, since “there is something positive to come out from it”.

Mr Ba, in his remarks, lauded the government for joining the organisation, which has 43 member countries.

“From now on, we recognise we have a duty to help Ghana implement its housing policy,” he said.

As part of its support plan for Ghana, the organisation, which works under the auspices of the African Development Bank, said it planned to operate in Ghana by way of a four-pronged approach.

The approach, Mr Ba said, included undertaking a public-private sector partnership and partnering public finance institutions such as the pension fund to build affordable houses for workers.

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Additionally, he said Shelter Afrique had plans to assist private developers to build more affordable houses and also help improve the availability of financial resources for housing projects.

“We are ready to co-operate with the government to make a big difference in the housing sector in Ghana,” he said

To demonstrate its commitment to Ghana, the organisation has already granted a loan of $5 million to a single private Ghanaian company to undertake a housing project in Ghana.

At a media encounter in Accra last week, President Mills acknowledged that the STX housing project was beset with legal problems and boardroom wranglings which made it difficult for the project to commence as expected.

Source: Daily Graphic