The manifesto of the ruling New Patriotic Party in Ghana has among other things proposed the establishment of a GHS 100 million National Rent Assistance Scheme (NRAS) to help fresh employees in the formal sector (Private and Public) secure a low interest loan for renting a suitable residential accommodation facility. Such beneficiaries would repay an agreed monthly repayment amounts to be deducted at source to enhance funds return and sustainability of the proposed scheme. This proposal has awakened discussions on the century old problem of Housing deficit in Ghana. In this article, I briefly discuss the false impression created by our housing need estimates as a country and also share a portion of my research output on Availability of Residential accommodation for fresh employees in Ghana with you, ahead of the lunching of the full employment report later this month.
Housing Deficit in Ghana
The national housing deficit estimates cannot be a reflection of the true situation today. It is unfortunate that we cannot have a recent update of the situation due to the likely rescheduling of Census 2020 to 2021 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. However, computing Ghana’s housing deficit on the basis of 4-persons per household per 2-bedroom unit, translate into a deficit of about 2.7 million (GSS, Census 2010). I therefore get surprise when I hear our housing deficit figures assumed to be around 1.5 million when in actual fact there hasn’t been any rigorous investment in this ordained sector of human existence called housing, amidst the sustained increase in population growth in Ghana and the numerous land acquisition challenges we are confronted with. I am well aware that Ghana includes shelters which do not have adequate facilities to be habitable, and those requiring repairs or renovation before use, in the computation of housing deficit. If those are taken out as per the required standard, the deficit would be way larger than what erroneously represents our housing needs as a country.
So it is a big problem that deserves the attention of all stakeholders and that is why I find the manifesto promise as a ‘stone to kill two or even more birds’; the issues of housing demand by prospective tenants, who must first secure the rather unavailable residential facility before faced with the issue of rent advance payment which the Scheme seeks to cater for.
In all these, I have maintained that lack of reliable data on the demand and supply of housing units remains the crust of our inability to manage the problem. Contributing to the discussion further, I present a brief result of my study on Availability of Residential accommodation for fresh employee. This results forms part of a Full Employment Assessment Report in Ghana; a study conducted by Kumasi Technical University’s Centre for Social Science Research – CSSR. All advertised jobs in Ghana from January to December 2019 has been analysed in the report which will be shared with the general public hopefully later this month.
The bar chart below reveals the proportion of fresh employees, many of whom becomes prospective tenants and must first secure the rather unavailable residential facility before qualifying to apply to the National Rent Assistance Scheme if it becomes operational.
Source: Employment Report 2020 by CSSR, Kumai Technical University
From the figure, only sixty-three (63) representing 1.8% of the number of job vacancies advertised from January to December 2019 had provision for accommodation for such employees. This imply that, an overwhelming majority of fresh employees (98.2%) will have to necessarily find accommodation for themselves after securing jobs. The absence of financial assistance for such fresh employees, coupled with the search for non-existing habitable accommodation facility confronts them simultaneously. The proposal by the ruling government is very laudable to the extent that it addresses the financial bit of the problem. However, the implantation of such a fantastic idea will not be complete if an aggressive attention is not paid to increasing the housing needs of the people.
- Governments should be seen elevating the issue of affordable housing beyond the more talk-less action mode into a real demonstration of visible investment in this all important sector.
- Landlords and Tenants alike should avail their views to sharpen the draft new rent law, and participate fully to ensure that when passed into law, it shall be fully complied with by all stakeholders.
- It is time to collate a more accurate and reliable data on Housing demand, Housing supply, National Landlords and habitable facilities register and other related information. This will afford us a better understanding of the size of our housing needs so we can properly manage same. We must treat this as an urgent matter. The Centre for Social Science Research – CSSR of Kumasi Technical University is ready with the capacity and interest to assist in this regard.
- It was a surprising revelation from our employment report that though the private sector declared about 70% of the total advertised job vacancies in 2019, they only had accommodation of 1.9% for those employees. Why don’t the “engine of growth” demonstrate same by taking advantage of this huge housing demand of their prospective employees and the general public to invest more aggressively in this rather vibrant area of affordable housing. Elsewhere around the globe, their likes ie. Sumsung, LG etc dominate the housing business.
May the good Lord bless our homeland Ghana
Writer: Senior Research Fellow, Kumasi Technical University