Interview: Bruno Nabagné Koné
What successes has the Presidential Housing Plan seen since its establishment?
BRUNO NABAGNÉ KONÉ: The results are not what we expected. Originally, the ambition of the Presidential Housing Plan was to build 60,000 homes, which was later increased to 150,000 homes. As it stands, we have only completed 10% of this goal, but we are organising ourselves to catch up as quickly as possible. My priority is to restart this programme, as it has developed very slowly due to several problems, such as public funding, the size of the real estate developers, fiscal issues and the availability of land. Nevertheless, all of these problems are gradually being addressed.
Although our target is to build 150,000 homes, housing needs in Côte d’Ivoire are actually estimated to be between 500,000 and 600,000 units. In addition to the Presidential Housing Plan, the government is encouraging the construction of housing by other means, so that we can meet the needs of the Ivorian population. Tackling the issue of precarious housing is one of our priorities, especially in Abidjan, where the lack of houses has meant an increase in precarious housing. Our job is to address the situation by providing the means to guarantee access to water and electricity, as well as containing the spread of the kind of neighbourhoods that promote precarious housing.
To what extent will the Construction and Housing Code help address sector challenges?
KONÉ: The Construction and Housing Code complements the Urban Planning and Land Code. These and several other complementary measures will allow for the introduction of important changes that include securing access to land ownership and plots of land to carry out projects of public interest.
The code will also allow developers to acquire a building permit under conditions of transparency and, in a more objective way, make it so that issuance will depend on risk assessment and the nature of the building. This legal framework will make life easier for users and will allow the construction sector to contribute more significantly to the overall economy.
How do you assess the performance of the single window for building permits?
KONÉ: The single window for building permits was a very good idea. Previously, you had to pay a visit to all the actors involved, which made the process tedious and expensive. Having the single window with a committee in which all actors are present facilitates the process and reduces delays significantly. Nowadays, a waiting period of 21 days is required to issue a building permit, whereas in the past this would have taken several months or even years.
These positive results have encouraged us to replicate this process for the production of property deeds to cut down on delays, which will also bring the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Urban Planning, and the land registry under the same platform.
Which measures need to be implemented in order to improve access to housing loans?
KONÉ: To facilitate access to loans, the prerequisite is that there should be confidence in the acts that are issued by the state. Unfortunately, we are a little circumscribed by the past in this regard, but this is something we are working on. When the aforementioned codes are fully operational, confidence will gradually be restored, and bankers will be able to rely more easily on the documents and the acts that are promulgated by the administration to issue various kinds of credit.
Côte d’Ivoire has also set up rate-reduction mechanisms through a Housing Mobilisation Fund that allows resources to be mobilised by the state and banks to issue credit for longer periods and at lower rates. We must ensure the sustainable supply of this fund, which will cover longer credit periods – reaching up to 15-25 years – with rates that do not exceed 7% or 8%.