Kenya, Britain ink Sh8billion affordable houses deal
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo (right) together with UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab during a joint press briefing on January 20, 2021 at the Serena Hotel, Nairobi where they spoke about the UK-Kenya partnership.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is in Nairobi, said the funding is part of London’s support for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vision of providing 100,000 affordable housing units to Kenyans. Of the amount that is to be disbursed in batches, some Sh1 billion will be from UK-funded InfraCo and the remaining from private companies, both part of the British government’s investment in infrastructure in Africa. “The £53 million agreement will mean affordable housing for 10,000 Kenyan families. The project is through Acorn Housing. President Kenyatta attended the launch of Kenya’s first green bond on the London Stock Exchange by Acorn a year ago,” Mr Raab said yesterday. The Foreign Secretary, who is on his first official visit to Kenya, also announced an additional Sh7.2 billion towards the mitigation of climate change across the country, as well as another Sh24 billion for the expansion of digital connectivity on the continent. The visit by the minister comes on the backdrop of a historic exit deal signed between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union in December, ahead of the lapse of the Brexit transition period. Kenya and the UK are negotiating a five-year strategic partnership signed in January 2020.
The deal, officials say, is expected to strengthen relations between the two countries post-Brexit. According to the deal signed by Mr Kenyatta during his visit to Britain, the two nations will help each other in matters education, trade, counter-terrorism, and security among others. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said the visit by Mr Raab is aimed at reaffirming and promoting the agreement.“Kenya has a strong partnership with the UK on a number of fronts. Our meeting sought to reflect on these areas of cooperation, ranging from economic partnership to security and climate interventions,” Ms Omamo told journalists yesterday. The National Affordable Housing Project — launched by the President in 2018 as part of the Big Four Agenda — sought to build at least 500,000 homes in two years. Its implementation, however, has been rocked by lack of funds, despite huge allocations from the National Treasury, including a Sh15.5 billion set aside last June.
Mr Raab said the United Kingdom had also signed a new partnership with Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe aimed at increasing collaboration in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. “The UK has provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health to help prepare for the coronavirus vaccine roll-out in Kenya,” the Foreign Secretary told reporters. “It will ensure the vaccine gets to those who need it as quickly as possible.” Ms Omamo said Kenya looks forward to deepening the relations between the two countries. “The partnership should be strong, especially in health, where issues around fighting Covid-19, including the vaccine initiative, are in focus,” the CS said. – nation.co.ke