Ghana’s economy hinges on agriculture, oil and gas, and commodity prices. The economy is driving efforts of rapid urbanization, infrastructural development, and investments. Amidst all these notable breakthroughs, the immense contribution of the real estate sector under the service sector has grossly been overlooked in the economic growth of Ghana.  The housing service sector for instance contributes to the GDP of Ghana in two ways:  housing construction and housing occupancy.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the construction industry has been able to thrive with a record of 30.6% growth rate and share of 14.8% of the GDP in 2015. The sector in 2016 and 2017 contributed 13.7% to the GDP.  And for the past five years, the industry has been up more than 70% since 2010 and it has created an employment opportunity for over 320,000.

The construction industry in the country faces major setbacks in their attempt at bridging the housing deficit gap in the country. These setbacks include the high cost of building materials as the majority of construction materials are imported.

The government has made efforts to prioritise infrastructure investment for a robust economy. The interventions include building and improving roads, constructing railways, and social infrastructure (schools, hospitals, affordable housing, and others) for use by citizens and businesses.

The advancement of technology has shaped the construction industry by making it more ecologically friendly. Some of the growing trends include the use of sustainable building materials, recycling, solar power integration, and more innovative design and planning. This urgency to adapt to is because of the changing climatic conditions that demand resilient and sustainable building structures.

GHANA AFFORDABLE HOUSING

A pressing social problem in Ghana is housing. Ghana’s housing deficit is pegged at 2.5 million according to the Ministry of Water Resource Works and Housing in 2019.  Accra, the capital of Ghana, is projected to have a population growth from 2.5 m in 2011 to 4.2m in 2025 according to UN-Habitat. The projection brings to the fore the widening housing deficit in the city.

Housing systems in Ghana are categorized under the formal and informal sectors. The formal sector contributes relatively lower to the housing stocks as compared to the informal sector. The informal sectors comprise of individuals who use their capital to build their properties. Also, small scales enterprises undertake building and renovation of structures for profit.  Due to financial constraints, informal developers focus on small scale projects i.e. largely single bedroom and chamber and hall units.

On the other hand, the formal sector is made up of the private sector the public sector, or both (Private-Public Partnership). The public sector which is spearheaded by the government focuses on housing for low-income households.  The private sector includes real estate developers who build for profit.

GREDA, DEVELOPERS AND THEIR DEVELOPMENTS

When the Ghana Real Estate Developers’ Association was formed, the professional body’s aim was geared towards fostering effective collaboration between the real estate developers in the country to provide a robust framework and solution to tackling the housing deficit in the country.

During the launch of GREDA’s 30th anniversary, the association revealed how it spearheaded development such as GREDA Estate at Nungua, comprising some 500 housing units; the Tema Communities 18, 19 and 20 and the Dunkona Estate, which is a partnaership with SSNIT (Social Security and National Insurance Trust).  (Source:citibusinessnews)

Real Estate investors are targeting one of the most crucial development problems of Ghana: Housing. The investments are aimed at addressing the housing deficit in Ghana. One such investment is Eden Heights, developed by Westhills Ridge Company Limited. It has become a prototype model that is worth emulating in tackling the housing challenges in the country.

The development has so far has met the expectation of both locals and expatriates in terms of value for money and quality.

A look at the Real Estate terrain shows that developers target the high-income class. This situation only widens the supply gap for affordable homes for the middle- and low-income earners.

With 1232 luxury apartments, 40 penthouses, 4 swimming pools, and a sports complex, Eden Heights is a leader in gated community as the property absorbs different income groups and offers them the best housing choice in the country.

There are other real estate developers adding to the housing stock in Ghana.

THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND REGULATION

The government has a pivotal role to help address the housing deficit in the country through policy reforms, partnerships, and tax incentives.  The Oxford Business Group’s 2016 report estimate that about 70,000 houses are needed annually to tackle the housing deficit.  In 2019, the government in partnership with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) announced the construction of 100, 000 affordable housing units. The projected was estimated to cost around $5 billion. The government under the agreement will provide the land and UNOPS will take care of the remaining resources(logistics) needed for the project.

Again, in 2019, the government signed a partnership agreement with Solin (a Hungarian engineering firm) for the construction of 10,000 housing units for the people of Ghana.

Finally, the $200m Saglemi Affordable Housing development in Prampram is expected to add 5000 housing units to the housing stock.

The government in 2017 abolished the 5% value-added tax on sales in the real estate market.

Policy-wise, the government in 2019 under the Ministry of Works and Housing (MoWH) inaugurated a National Housing Committee charged with the responsibility of establishing and executing the National Mortgage and Housing Finance Scheme (NMHFS) captured in the 2018 budget.  The scheme aims to develop the housing finance market in consultation with pension fund managers and selected banks. The National Housing and Mortgage Fund will help in the effective delivery of relatively cheaper housing units to reduce the housing deficit in the country.

The effort by the government has well-positioned the real estate market to attract investments locally and internationally.

HOW TO INVEST IN REAL ESTATE IN GHANA

The real estate market has been segmented into residential, commercial, and industrial. This segmentation provides an avenue for those who want to invest in the sector.

Some of the avenues include the construction of different property types.

Investors or individuals with capital can invest by going directly into the construction of residential, commercial, or industrial properties in the real estate market.

Investors can consider the following plan for residential housing

  • Low-cost housing
  • Apartments
  • Retirement village

For commercial purposes, one could consider

  • Shops/mall
  • Office accommodation
  • Storage

For industrial one could consider

  • Light industrial parks
  • Warehousing facilities

Property Management, sales of building material, rentals, maintenance, and repair services are other opportunities that can be tapped into by investors in the real estate market in Ghana.

Currently, there is an expected introduction of publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). The capital markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken the initiative of publishing a draft guideline on amendments to regulations in 2018 that will pave way for the introduction of listed REITs on the Ghana Stock market. The avenue will help other investors to invest in REITs soon.

TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY

Currently, there are various opportunities in the housing market where investors can focus. The increasing application of construction technology coupled with the high demand for affordable housing is shaping up a supply-oriented future. The expectation is that through Public and Private Partnership (PPT) the demand for low-cost housing can be met.

In 2019, the Ministry of Works and Housing commissioned a Rapid Housing Technology. The technology (polystyrene concrete panels) developed by SOLIN Energy Company Limited, a global solar energy solutions and innovation.

For low-income housing, this would be a paradigm shift that would help address the housing problem in the country.

The eco-conscious designs as well as the adoption of eco-friendly materials such as bamboos, recycled plastics, shipping containers among other materials promote sustainable affordable construction. This is line with the World Green Building Council Report which emphasises the importance of Green Building in energy savings within the range of 25% to 35% and that for water up to 39%, an improvement over conventional buildings.

The real estate outlook in Ghana looks promising as it relies on the pillars of a robust economy, peaceful political climate, and industrialisation.

 

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