NHA – Zambia’s building nucleus

By Nawa Mutumweno

One logo that really depicts what a company stands for is that of the National Housing Authority (NHA). It shines a ‘bright light’ on the mandate of the company to develop, build, manage and control housing estates in the country, among its other core functions.

“Creating Wonderful Communities” is the vision of the re-branded NHA in its endeavour to contribute to reducing the housing deficit in the country.

Anchored on Strategic Focus, Shared Vision and Values, Supportive and Connected Work Place, Symbol of Operational Efficiency, Speed of Execution and On Time Delivery, Satisfactory Business Results, Standards of Best Practices and Service Oriented, NHA is set to meet its operational benchmarks.

Driven by the Strategic Plan (2010 – 2014), the company has put in place stringent measures to spur and enhance its growth potential by diversifying its revenue base through the provision of consultancy services to local authorities, government ministries and the general public. These encompass project management and monitoring,  architecture and engineering designs, surveying, conveyance and legal services.

Its financial re-engineering programme covers long term financial intermediation (for mobilization and allocation of resources in the form of mortgages), creation of housing bonds, and entering into joint ventures with strategic partners to accelerate the construction of new houses countrywide. Cases in point include the joint housing schemes undertaken with NAPSA and MKP and joint project financing schemes with local authorities and government ministries.

With the vibrant and results-oriented Elias Mpondela at the helm of this strategic company as its Chief Executive Officer, NHA is on the road to scaling-up its performance to international standards and best practices through a roadmap of revitalization, excellence, renewal, customer focus, staff engagement, sustainability and profitability.

Mpondela, an  economist with a solid foundation  in management and leadership who has blazed the business trail for many years, has pledged to promise inspirational directions and change that will reposition the company on the market.

“The role of NHA in reducing the housing gap is critical. Our mandate goes beyond this and also involves upgrading of squatter compounds or unplanned settlements which are posing a health hazard. We are engaging in urban renewal so that those in these unplanned settlements are resettled and accorded decent and affordable accommodation elsewhere, “ he elaborated.

NHA has signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with various financial and other institutions that are aimed at assisting it achieve its urban renewal and nationwide outreach programme.

There is a $10 million loan agreement on the cards which NHA is pursuing with the Nairobi-based Shelter Afrique, the Pan African Bank for housing development.

Banks and non-bank financial institutions are being engaged by NHA on how best to service the housing sector and so far the response in the provision of mortgages has been encouraging. More contractors and financiers are being invited to come on board and help NHA achieve its business goals.

Another item at the top of management’s operational agenda is the introduction of sustainable fast track technology that will change the cost structure of housing in the country.  This innovation will reduce the cost of construction,  deliver housing at a faster rate as it would not only rely on brick and mortar but on conventional, cost effective and time-related construction methods.

To reverse the trend of high cost and unsustainable housing delivery in the country, NHA has set its sights on the reduction of the cost of houses by one-third and delivery period of six months. The setting up of a research and development wing in the company aligned to the TDAU of the University of Zambia, CBU’s School of Built Environment , trade schools and the National Council for Construction.

The company plans to live to its national tag when it launches its  Housing Development Programme that will open provincial offices; tap the housing needs of local authorities and big corporate and develop housing solutions; and forge alliances with ministries to develop housing finance and housing development strategies.

Major projects being undertaken currently include the NAPSA project in Nyumba Yanga where 264 housing units are under construction,  the ZAIN Real 2010 where  NHA is building 10 houses, the Zamtel Housing Scheme in Ibex Hill, Town Houses in Woodlands and Executive Houses in Ibex Hill. It is envisaged that these projects will be wrapped up by 2011. Another mammoth project is the SOS Project along Great North Road, opposite the Independence Stadium, on a 100 hectares site that will accommodate 594 residential plots with 1 046 housing units. Plans are afoot to engage strategic partners for both financing and project management on a joint venture basis with works scheduled to commence this year. An exclusive residential area comprising 76 executive apartments complete with swimming pool, tennis courts, gymnasium, asphalt roads and security is on the cards for Makeni. These units will be leased to the general public.

‘Landmarks’ of NHA’s impressive track record include the construction and management of over 1 429 flats and houses in Kabwata Estates, 300 medium cost houses in Woodlands Extension, over 700 housing units in Nyumba Yanga , 600 houses in Ibex Hill, Chainama and PHI. The NHA ‘operational net’ was cast wide through its involvement in the construction of houses in Twapia (Ndola) and over provision of infrastructure services for 1 000 housing units in Mumbwa, Mansa, Chipata, Choma, Mazabuka, Monze and Mpika.

In a practical response to the President’s call for Zambians living abroad to invest in the country, NHA has introduced the Diaspora Housing Strategy. Through this initiative, citizens in the diaspora will acquire housing and contribute to foreign direct investment (FDI)  into the Zambian economy through remittances. In the execution of this strategy, the company intends to secure prime pieces of land within and outside Lusaka and partner with government and banks with international branches.

Asked on the construction boom in the country, Mr Mpondela had this to say:

“Construction is one of the key indicators of economic activity.  It also means that more Zambians have a disposable income through employment or entrepreneurship.”

Indeed NHA has come a long way from 1948 when it was formed as African Housing Board. With its Design and Build Capability backed by adequate capitalization through strategic alliances and partnerships and private sector participation, NHA is poised to deliver on its vision of “Creating Wonderful Communities” by providing decent and affordable accommodation for all.