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The Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, has embarked on a working visit to some cement manufacturing companies with a call on them to consider the use of locally available building materials such as pozzolana, in the wake of the global crisis, as a good substitute for imported clinker in their productions.

The high cost of most commercial housing units has largely been attributed to the rising cost of building materials, which are mainly imported. Available data has shown that approximately US$350 million is spent annually to import about 85 per cent of raw materials to produce cement.

The Minister added that up to US$30 million can be saved on imported materials by increasing the production and use of pozzolana cement to help minimize the cost of construction and ultimately improve housing affordability in the country.

The working visit, which took the sector Minister to GHACEM, Diamond Cement and Dzata Cement in Tema, was meant to help him understand the operations and most importantly the challenges of the companies and how government can come out with appropriate interventions.

The government’s new Affordable Housing Programme is a strategic intervention that seeks to provide incentive packages such as unencumbered land banks, infrastructure services on designated lands, tax incentives and exemptions to interested private developers.

This new arrangement is expected to greatly reduce the price of housing units and make them affordable to the majority of Ghanaians, who are normally priced out of the markets due to current affordability gap in the real estate industry.

Having identified the supply of cement as one of the major cost drivers in construction, Asenso-Boakye, in his remarks, said the success of the new programme will depend largely on the ability of manufacturing companies to adequately supply cement at an affordable rate.

As a major component in housing construction, the sector minister believes cement manufacturing companies can support the government’s drive towards the delivery of the National Affordable Housing Programme by fixing a specified selling price for the supply of cement. This, he noted, will minimize the cost of construction, and ultimately increase the affordability of the housing units when the project is completed.

“My visit here today [Wednesday], therefore, seeks to reinforce the government’s expressed desire to partner with major cement manufacturing companies in Ghana in the delivery of the National Affordable Housing programme.”

The Chief Executive Officers of Dzata Cement and GHACEM, Nana Phillip Archer and Stefano Gallini, both pledged their respective company’s commitment to the government’s vision of providing affordable homes to the citizenry.

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