VICE President Guy Scott has said high interest rates in the country are preventing Zambians from investing and acquiring mortgages to construct houses.
He was speaking when he officially opened a three-day African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development, (AMCHUD) Southern African Sub-regional Conference held at Mulungushi conference center in Lusaka yesterday.
He said the interest rates were too high in the region but it was worse in Zambia thereby making it difficult for Zambians to invest.
“It is hardly surprising that we are short of 1.3m housing units in Zambia,” he said.
He said it was sad that most Zambians, including top government officials he worked with, were renting houses.
Dr Scott said Zambians had been subjected to high rentals and high mortgages but that the Government was determined to change the situation.
He urged the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to work with his office to assist sort out the problem of housing in Zambia.
Dr Scott said that Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) would also go a long way in assisting to address the lack of adequate housing in the country.
He however said the PPPs were also being affected by the fact that most Zambians had no ability to invest in the economy.
“Let us all work together in addressing the problem of urban housing, as a Government, if we can help, we want to help,” he said.
Earlier Local Government and Housing Minister Emerine Kabanshi said Government was currently considering the housing development policy of 1996 to improve housing.
She said Zambia was also working with UN Habitat to ensure sustainable human settlements.
Ms Kabanshi explained that the high levels of urbanization continued to be a challenge in achieving sustainable human settlements.
AMCHUD head of permanent secretariat Thomas Ogutu said regional African countries must work together to improve lives of people in slums.
UN HABITAT assistant secretary general Aisa Kacyira said human settlements were key to development for sustainable livelihoods.
“Africa is at crossroads and by 2050, most cities will double their population so it is important for us to start preparing now,” he said.
She pledged her organisation’s commitment to continue assisting Africa in its quest for sustainable housing to counter growing urbanization.