With statistical reports from World Bank revealing that the Kenyan population increases at one million per year against a supply of less than 50, OOO housing units over the same period, housing deficit has been a significant concern that has taken the attention of the government.
It is against this backdrop that the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta came up with a very ambitious plan that will ensure delivery of 1 million affordable housing units by 2022. The President, as part of a detailed Big Four Agenda, hopes to enable low-income earners to own homes by the time his second and final term comes to an end.
Of the 1 million, the government plans to deliver 800,000 housing units through a public-private partnership that will involve huge capital inflow from the private sector. Despite the delay to lay down frameworks, private investors are already excited and are warming up to cash in on the vast project.
However, everyone else has been lost in this excitement, and a crucial student segment is seemingly being forgotten.
Since the government established the double- intake policy in 2011 which was meant to cut on the one-year period that form four leavers waited at home to join tertiary institutions, universities have registered increased enrolments. This has in effect constrained their supply of essential infrastructures including accommodation, with universities being able to provide about 36% of their student population with a guaranteed accommodation facility.
Averagely, the higher learning institutions have experienced an estimated shortage of 500,000 beds. The private sector has previously stepped in to bridge this gap through the provision of hostels, shared accommodation or even conversion of the residential housing into student rooms.
However, this is yet to sort out 75 percent of student accommodation which is in many cases poor in quality, characterized by unaffordability, lack of space for reading, congestion as well as poor management and security.
The government and even the private sector should now turn a sharper focus to the student segment, also as they help in delivering the administration’s housing agenda. With high guaranteed returns, considering the growing population of students in tertiary institutions, developers need to position themselves by providing modern, better quality, affordable, purposefully designed accommodation to address the existing gap.
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