In the past few weeks the talk of the town is the new housing scheme announced by the Addis Ababa city government for city dwellers that are eager to own homes, which is in fact the most pressing issue in the city.
The public at large who are born and lived here in Addis do not own a home and would like to own one. Any sane person would like to own one, even if they already own a house registered in the name of a spouse or children.
It was also announced that the new housing plan is expected to begin this year and will benefit residents of Addis Ababa who can save up to 40 percent of the total cost of the home based on its size; the rest will be covered by a bank and the lucky ones will pay the other 60 percent plus interest within 17 years.
The owners of the homes, the Addis Ababa Housing Development Enterprise (AAHDE), and the state owned financial giant, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), also signed a deal to realize the financing of the project.
In my opinion these kinds of housing projects are beneficial to residents and are contributing to curbing the severe housing shortage in the city.
The houses will have three levels, and city officials said that site selection and other studies have been completed, and construction of 10,000 houses is to begin in this fiscal year.
This affordable housing scheme was introduced two years ago when the government announced its five year GTP program. However the project is just getting off the ground now.
The low cost housing projects, popularly known as condominiums, were first introduced in the city in 2004, when city administration was in the hands of former Mayor Arkebe Equbay. Most residents in the city praise Arkebe for this project, but the low cost housing project is far from satisfying the demand.
Until now the city administration has been trying its best to ease the housing problem by building low cost condominiums around the city, and transferred them to lucky winners in lottery draw. However, the city has not constructed and transferred houses to all those who registered nine years back. Actually the city has not managed to transfer houses to even a quarter of the registered home seekers.
These people who were registered back then are still waiting for a house, and most of them are eager to be part of the new scheme, because they think this project will be completed in a relatively shorter time. Since most of the residents don’t have the capacity to construct their own homes they will just wait years to own a low cost house.
My question is, will the city government manage to complete this project in a short time when we compare it with the previous housing project? I am not only doubting the capacity of the city government, but I am questioning the capacity of everyone who is going to participate directly in the project. I am crossing my fingers that the project will be finished in a short time and that a few lucky people will benefit from it… but crossing my fingers won’t help.
I know I am being cynical, but I am basing it on past experiences that I have witnessed. Moreover, 10,000 homes is nothing, in this vast and booming city, but if this is their capacity then we all will wait for our turn.
God knows when it will happen.
Last week the public went crazy to fulfill the requirements to register for the 40/60 housing scheme. To their disappointment the city government postponed the registration date.
In my opinion the city government did not expect such intense public interest and was forced to postpone the registration. This will also sends the message that those who are responsible for this are not well organized. What if millions want to be part of this? What will the city government do?
It was also stated that not everyone with the capacity to settle the down payment will be allowed to register, “the scheme targets those who cannot afford to go to other private real estate developers”. This also raises the question: how will the city administration know?