The Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) this week briefed Members of Parliament on developments on the ongoing projects at Block 7 “as a way of recognizing the important role that they play in the socio-economic and political lives of Batswana.”
Reginald Motswaiso, the BHC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that with the briefings, his organization is able to get feedback on issues regarding the BHC. He said the feedback helps the BHC to develop and improve accommodation products for its customers.
“We consider honourable Members of Parliament to be one of BHC’s major stakeholders and partners in its endeavour to deliver affordable accommodation to the nation,” he said.
Motswaiso stated that, quite often, the BHC has been criticized for engaging in nonÔÇôhousing schemes, such as the development of shopping malls. According to Motswaiso, the BHC looks at commercial developments as a means towards achieving the Corporation’s ultimate objective of providing housing. He said these commercial ventures are in the long run more profitable and can therefore provide the much needed funds for the development of houses. “Commercial ventures have, to date, been undertaken only where residential land owned by BHC has been rezoned for commercial use,” he said.
According to Motswaiso, the BHC target market is the low-to-high income bracket. Out of a rental stock of over 10 thousand housing units, he said 50 percent of these are low cost houses.
“This is a clear indication that the BHC places more emphasis on the low cost market which currently has the highest level of demand,” he stated.
In reference to the BHC’s vision, which says “To be the best in property development and estate management services”, Motswaiso said that the BHC continues to extend its services to many areas in this country. “This is to ensure that it reaches out to as many Batswana as possible. To date, we provide houses to a number of peri-urban areas such as Palapye, Kasane, Maun, Jwaneng and others.” He said they are also engaged in a market study aimed at determining if there was a sufficient demand in other parts of this country such as Ghanzi, Serowe and Kanye. “We would be ready to enter these areas where the study confirms that there is sufficient effective demand,” he stressed.
In order for the Corporation to operate more efficiently in this new milieu, Motswaiso said, it has become imperative for the Corporation to diversify its revenue base. He said it has done this by taking on jobs from government departments and other agencies as well as undertaking commercial developments. However, in order to operate efficiently under these changed circumstances, Motswaiso said it had become apparent that some sections of the BHC Act needed amending. “This will vest some powers in the Board of Directors rather than in the Ministers hence allowing speedy responses,” he stressed.
The MP for Gaborone Central, Dumelang Shaleshando, concurred and said that indeed the BHC should revisit its Act which was last amended in 1994. “There are just too many problems on it which needs to be amended,” he said.
Touching on challenges facing the BHC, Motswaiso pointed out that the organization is faced with escalating costs of development. He explained that construction is capital intensive and costly thus, inevitably, the products are very sensitive to inputs cost fluctuations.
“Another significant input cost is that of land which is a scarce commodity in urban areas,” he said, adding that other challenges lie in the collection of rentals and installments from customers buying through the Tenant Purchase and Step Ownership Schemes.
The MP for Mogoditshane, Patrick Masimolole, urged the BHC to take homeownership seriously saying that it is at the heart of every Motswana.
Most of the parliamentarians who attended the briefing agreed that the BHC surplus should not be given to the government but should be used to build more houses across the country.