Interview: Amina Abdi Aden
What are the main priorities when it comes to supporting the Year of Housing project?
AMINA ABDI ADEN: President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh designated 2018 as the Year of Housing with the aim of intensifying the development of real estate projects and the construction of social housing. This measure is in line with the national housing policy, which aims to solve the problem of precarious accommodation and establish a financial system to support the construction and purchase of homes.
Nevertheless, the sector faces many challenges that slow down its development and increase costs. Therefore, housing promotion policy needs to intensify the role of the sector’s operational bodies to improve their intervention and management capacity on land, housing and urban issues. In addition, important work is under way to strengthen the regulatory framework of the sector and the organisation of its professions, including real estate developers and construction companies. This mechanism aims to reduce the overall cost of construction and encourage the use of modern methods and materials. It is especially important for the sector to implement a land and property policy that helps mitigate the effects of speculation and produces building space to meet demand. With nearly 2000 homes under construction and 1000 soon to be under construction, and 900 ha of equipped plots planned for 2020, this approach is on track.
How can access to housing be improved?
AMINA ABDI: In order to achieve the objective of providing decent housing for every citizen in Djibouti, more responsibility needs to be given to the private sector. Alongside public institutions, the private sector must contribute to the diversification and growth of housing supply for all segments of the population. Moreover, while middle- and upper-income households have certain investment capacities and can rely on local banks, low- and very-low-income households do not have this capacity and therefore require help from the state. This is why social housing programmes, mainly financed by Arab donors and at preferential rates, take shape. In parallel to this, the Ismaïl Omar Guelleh for Housing Foundation was established to reinforce housing public policies. The foundation, which has already allocated homes to more than 600 poor households, aims to produce an average of 1000 housing units per year. Moreover, the Zero Slums in Djibouti Programme initiated by President Guelleh was established to help improve the living and housing conditions of city dwellers in at-risk neighbourhoods by providing practical and sustainable solutions. This programme works to restructure slum neighbourhoods with a low level of basic infrastructure and put in place appropriate financial mechanisms to create sustainable housing.
What regions of the country have a particular need for real estate development?
AMINA ABDI: Djibouti has six cities and a high rate of urbanisation. Over 70% of the national population currently lives in urban areas and this proportion is expected to reach 85% in the coming years. In this context of rapid urbanisation, the country’s cities will be at the centre of all future development challenges. Tadjoura and Ali Sabieh are prime examples of the critical role that housing has to play in contributing to overall economic development. Given the need for real estate infrastructure that is both modern and accessible to all inhabitants, we can expect these destinations to continue to attract major investment, and drive broader commercial activities.
The Port of Tadjoura has created many jobs and generated economic dynamism, and we expect these results to be replicated in other cities in the years to come. As a result of these developments, a pilot operation for the construction of 60 apartments was carried out in Ali Sabieh and Tadjoura, and this will be followed by other real estate projects in the interior regions.
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