Speakers at the inaugural roundtable session included H.E. Dr. Laila Eskandar, Minister of Urban Development and Planning, Building National research Institute, Mrs May Abdel Hamid, Chairman, Mortgage Finance Fund, Mr. Hussein Mansi, Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Egypt as well as speakers from Orascom Housing and Development and DMG Group.
The roundtable discussion commenced with a presentation by MEED editor, Richard Thompson, which outlined the Egyptian economy over the past period, evidencing the fact that despite the bleakness of the last two years things are turning around and large projects are not only re-commencing but brand new projects are being planned. MEED highlighted the fact that there is a severe shortage of social housing in Egypt, meaning around 16 million are without adequate housing. The government recently announced their plans to build 1 million residential units as a part of their social housing program targeted at low-income families and will be located in 13 different locations across the country.
The first panel, entitled "Developing Partnerships to Drive the Housing Sector," hosted H.E. Dr. Laila Eskandar, Minister of Urban Development, May Abdel Hamid, Chairman for Egyptian Mortgage Finance Fund and Hussein Mansi, CEO Lafarge Egypt. Dr. Laila Eskandar explained the challenges facing the government when it comes to being able to register all those in need of adequate housing, the different types of informal housing communities which currently exist and offered some solutions in policy and timeline urgency for those in the most desperate situations.
May Abdel Hamid provided her expertise on the financial side of the social housing conundrum, by stressing on the need for loans and payment solutions which address the deficit between a potential owners income and the actual cost of the unit. She also mentioned the challenges that have carried over from previous social housing programs and stressed the need for comprehensive development plans where houses are built near transportation routes and areas where the inhabitants work.
"85% of the population fall within the segments which need housing support, these people are the backbone of the housing sector and we need to be focused so that we can meet their needs. Construction will help propel GDP and further development in Egypt while the future and investment chances lie in these massive sectors for the masses in Egypt," said Hussein Mansi from Lafarge, who provided insight into why, from the view of the private sector, companies should be interested in the subject of social housing. "Solutions lie in the fact that a company with the know-how and experience can help bring attention to the matter while there is a need to bring together all stakeholders and show investors the opportunity for growth and business."
Following the panel, Ayman Ismail, CEO of DMG Group and Secretary General from Maan Association, spoke about the need for a model which would encourage the private sector to supply more funding to social housing projects while it is currently difficult to justify the cost when companies would end up in debt from such projects. His colleague, Amr Moustafa, then presented DMG's current project located next to Salam City, where construction is underway to house a large community of those employed by the industrial sector in Obour while positioning the community as an example in how private companies can benefit the sector by providing their expertise and design knowledge.
Another example of social housing communities was highlighted by Mohamed Mohamed Khairy, Senior Vice President, Business Developmentfrom Orascom Housing and Development, with a presentation about Haram City in Six of October City. He mentioned the challenges the community have faced since the arrival of families in 2009. These challenges include lack of transportation and utilities, to which finally are being met. The community is almost entirely self-sufficient and boasts its own waste management, local trade and water treatment facilities.
During the last half of the roundtable discussion, Mohamed Yehia, General Manager of Aggregate and Concrete at Lafarge Egypt discussed how the company is providing building solutions to residents in unplanned areas of the city who build their own structures as well as solutions for developers to help cut cost and time while maintaining top quality building standards. He said, "Building Egypt 2030 is a goal that every Egyptian should embody and work towards achieving. We all must play a role and Lafarge's team in Egypt of over 3,500 will stand alongside the country.
The recovery of Egypt's economy and growth through development which underlie the Building Egypt 2030 campaign is not the responsibility of one sector alone, but rather presents the moment for each and every one of us to unite and shift our focus on the future. It is time for all of us to think about how we can play a role in creating a better future while building Egypt for 2030."
The session concluded with an open question and answer section on the current state of finance solutions for the sector, the challenges, tailoring finance products to meet the needs of potential owners, facilitating and fast tracking procedures for financial tools and perspectives from developers.
The second roundtable session is set to take place in October and will be discussing building roads and infrastructure in Egypt. More information about the discussions can be found by visiting www.lafarge.com.eg.
A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 64,000 people in 62 countries, and posted sales of €15.2 billion in 2013. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions providing them with more housing and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful, and better connected. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity.
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