12 Sep Establishing the Ghana Housing Authority: A Step Change to the Housing Industry?
The availability of sufficient and affordable housing within a country plays a vital role in its socio-economic development.
In Ghana, the rapid population growth and, in particular, increasing urbanization, are some of the factors which have contributed to shelter being one of the most critical challenges currently facing the country.
This Article seeks to explore how the housing sector can survive and thrive in this current economic climate by taking advantage of the unprecedented opportunities in this sector.
Ghana has a history of an impressive legislative framework regulating the housing sector as various Governments have implemented several laws and housing policies.
Yet still, the housing sector faces critical issues: inadequate housing stock, overcrowding, congestion, housing decay, and neighbourhood blight.
Research from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicates that the country’s housing deficit continually witnessed an upward trend from a figure of 1 million to 2.8 million from 1950 to 2010. However, the 2021 Population and Housing Census data on structures, housing conditions and facilities as presented by the GSS revealed a reversal in the housing deficit by 33%, putting the national housing deficit at 1.8 million. On any level of assessment, the figures are hard to ignore and the demand for affordable housing is on the rise.
To accelerate the provision of affordable housing, the Government seeks to set up an agency: the Ghana Housing Authority (“the Authority”) as a platform to operationalize its housing policy through strategies and programmes, and to exercise regulatory oversight over the activities of real estate developers.
To this end, there is a Ghana Housing Authority Bill, 2022 in the offing which has been presented to Parliament.
Establishment, Purpose and Functions of the proposed Ghana Housing Authority
The Ghana Housing Authority is to be established as a body corporate with the mandate to operationalize the Government housing policy through strategies and programmes, to organize public housing developments and exercise regulatory oversight over the activities of real estate developers. As part of its functions, the Authority is to facilitate the implementation of affordable housing projects in the country aimed at reducing Ghana’s housing deficit.
Affordable Housing in Ghana
The United Nations Human Settlements Program, UN-Habitat, describes affordable housing as “a function of household income and housing expenditure.” In the view of the UN-Habitat definition, (which corresponds with Ghana’s definition of affordable housing), spending more than 30% of household income on housing could have an adverse impact on other critical needs of households, including health, education, clothing, and food.
Despite several Governments initiating affordable housing projects over the years, the scale of delivery and completion of such projects has been a challenge. In most cases, none of the projects was completed before the end of the tenure of the Government of the day on whose watch the implementation of the relevant project commenced.
Amongst the reasons often cited for the non-completion of these projects is the absence of a central agency solely responsible for the execution of the Government’s housing policies and projects. Thus, upon any change of Government, the project initiated or developed by the previous Government is abandoned by the succeeding Government and new projects of the same or similar nature are implemented, if at all.
The proponents of a centralised body have argued that the establishment of the Ghana Housing Authority, mandated to, provide affordable housing, will serve as the driving force required for the execution, completion and delivery of housing projects, irrespective of the Government of the day. The continuity and sustainability in the execution of these projects will play a vital role in solving Ghana’s housing deficit.
The Economic Benefits of Affordable Housing
The importance of affordable housing and its contribution to the development of the Ghanaian economy cannot be overemphasised. The implementation of Ghana’s policy for the development of affordable housing would attract developers and investors to the real estate and housing industry.
Income derived from the provision of low-cost affordable residential premises has a chargeable income tax rate of 1% for the first five (5) years, which is less than the general corporate income tax of 25%. Investors may take advantage of this incentive and invest in affordable housing projects of the Ghana Housing Authority.
The Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) will be put to good use for housing projects. This Act provides for the use of tendering as the main method of procurement by governmental institutions. Competitive tendering as one of the means adopted would ensure that developers that seek to be engaged by the Authority for housing projects use the best, most affordable and environmentally friendly methods of construction.
Affordable housing projects in Ghana will also create employment and help reduce the unemployment rate in the country. Building or rehabilitating affordable housing creates jobs in the construction field for both educated and uneducated persons. People will be engaged to perform manual work at construction sites (labourers, carpenters, etc), and others will be employed as building project consultants, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, building contractors, and artisans of companies that may be set up for projects under the affordable housing scheme. Local content and local participation regulations will be critical to the overall development of capacity for the industry.
The Health Factor
The 2021 statistics of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) on poor housing in England attribute a cost of £1.4 billion to the National Health Service per year to treat people who suffer from injuries and the outbreak of diseases as a result of poor housing. This is explained as mainly due to the high cost of rent, leading to people living in dangerous and unhealthy structures.
Again, a report published in 2007 indicates that the provision of affordable housing may lead to stronger health outcomes for residents. Affordable housing may improve health outcomes by freeing up family resources for nutritious food and health care expenditures. By providing families with greater residential stability, affordable housing can reduce stress and related adverse health outcomes. The improvement of the health of the population will ensure a strong workforce and prevent high healthcare expenses on the government as a result of poor housing as witnessed in England. Indeed, one cannot underestimate the endless ripple effect of good but affordable housing.
With the required political will in place, there is an urgent need for carefully planned delivery programs and structured financing dominated by individual developers who are building houses incrementally over long periods.
The acceleration for organized and affordable housing is timely. Ghana, as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ISESCR), has undertaken to protect the right of its citizens to an adequate standard of living including the right to adequate housing. The case for the establishment of the Ghana Housing Authority is therefore compelling in solving Ghana’s housing challenges as well as the fulfilment of Ghana’s international obligations.
 Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, National Housing Policy, 2015.
 Boamah; N. A., Housing Policy in Ghana: The Feasible Paths, GJDS, Vol. 11, No. 1, May, 2014.
https://www.mwh.gov.gh/reduction-in-national-housing-deficit-reassuring-to-addressing-housing-challenges/ (accessed on 19th August 2022)
 Ghana Housing Authority Bill, 2022, p. 1.
 Ghana Housing Authority Bill, 2022, Section 1
 Ibid. at Section 2
 Ibid. at Section 3
 UN-Habitat, Taking Forward the Right to the City: Executive Summary – E-Debate 1 Report. Nairobi, 2010.
 Owusu, George (Phd), Affordable Housing in Ghana, Vol 1 ISSER Publications 2020. (Available at https://isser.ug.edu.gh/sites/isser.ug.edu.gh/files/Affordable%20Housing%20in%20Ghana%20_%20George%20Owusu.pdf)
 Ghana Incentives Inventory at p. 17
 Helen Garrett, Molly Mackay, Simon Nicol, Justine Piddington, and Mike Roys, The cost of poor housing in England, 2021 Briefing Paper (Available at https://thinkhouse.org.uk/site/assets/files/2531/bre1121.pdf )
 Jeffrey Lubell, Rosalyn Crain, and Rebecca Cohen, Framing the Issues— the Positive Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health, July 2007
 Ibid 10.
 In March 2022, during a meeting with some Executives of the Ghana Chamber of construction, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo implored persons engaged in real estate development and building construction to use means of construction that will help in the provision of cheap but quality housing for the people of Ghana. (Available at https://www.myjoyonline.com/akufo-addo-unhappy-about-high-cost-of-housing-in-ghana/ (accessed on 22nd August, 2022).
 Ibid 5.
 UDHR, Article 25; ICESCR, Article 11.