FAR Property, the unlisted property developer, has partnered with a number of international firms to source over P2 billion for the development of hundreds of houses around the country.
The plans were revealed by Stephen de Blanche, director of Imison at a press conference attended by cabinet ministers, top government officials and leaders of the private company. Imision is one of the companies that FAR Property has invited into the project, which is expected to be the biggest Private Public Partnership (PPP) projects in the country ever .The project, if it gets the nod will put other residential housing providers such Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) under pressure. FAR Properties owns most properties, which houses Choppies group countrywide. According to the company website, Imison is ‘South Africa’s leading alternative building technology, active in five provinces in SA, building in all sectors of the housing market, industrial and commercial sectors.
While, the project is still at infancy stage, Blanche told the meeting that the consortium was established to ‘address housing needs’ especially at public sector level. The biggest challenge for housing is affordability, he pointed out. Serty Leburu, deputy Chief Executive at BHC said, ‘We want a housing model which can be afforded by an ordinary Motswana’. Government-owned BHC has often been accused of pricing their properties above the ordinary man’s reach.
“The houses we intend to build will be affordable,” explained Blanche. “We need more affordable houses,” he said, adding that, the consortium boasts of wide range of companies in various sectors, from energy to architecture. The building of houses will start as soon as all funding and necessary approvals are obtained.
First on the menu of the consortium is to construct 1700 houses for civil servants around the country. Residential units at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) will also follow. BIUST will get 1000 while BCA, which is transforming into University, will receive 500 students’ residences. “We need housing for government workers like yesterday,” remarked newly appointed assistant minister of education and skills development Unity Dow. She added that government is keen to work with the private sector on certain services, while focussing on its core areas of mandate. The ambitious project will only take place if it gets the blessings of government. This includes getting necessary guarantee when the consortium seeks funding.
The total costs of the above projects are estimated at just over P2 billion. One attendant, Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BIFM) Chief Executive said PPPs are the way to go. “It is pleasing that government is now coming to the party,” said Tiny Kgatlwane. “What is important for us is to deliver on promises-be it time or budgets” BIFM is one of the beneficiaries of PPP, as it has constructed Plot 21 Offices that house the Ombudsman among others, through the scheme.
The proposed project will boost the economy as more than 5000 jobs will be created at construction stage. “We will also ensure more materials are sourced locally,” she explained. “Skills transfers will also be made”. Once built, the above houses will be owned and operated by the consortium. Subsequently, the properties will be put up for sale to any buyer, be it government or private investors. What now is left is further consultations and subsequent approval from government, said Blanche.