Golden Sands Housing Solutions Limited is an establishment with a firm and focused mission. It wants to solve Africa’s housing problem using cheap, durable and environmentally-friendly recyclable materials.
It hopes to start with Tanzania, a country with a rapidly growing urban population but an annual demand of 200,000 housing units. The dream, however, remains to deliver affordable, eco-friendly homes to a growing African population and to meet the needs of African cities experiencing rapid urban migration.
In this interview, Sophia Nashokigwa of Golden Sands Inc reveals her passion for establishing a housing solution services provider and the challenges of pursuing such a laudable dream.
Your passion and subsequent establishment of Golden Sands Housing Solutions seems like it is deeply rooted in the housing challenges facing many African economies. Can you state some of these challenges?
Africa as a whole has witnessed a rise in urban population growth. In particular, Dar es Salaam’s population is growing at a rate of 5.2 % which is significantly higher than the national average (3.1%). As a consequence, Tanzania currently holds a housing deficit of 3 million with an annual demand of 200,000 housing units a year. While Tanzania’s construction sector has significantly contributed to Tanzania’s steady GDP of 7.8%, the real estate sector has not yet been able to make significant strides towards making the supply of houses proportionate to the actual annual demand. Another challenge in addressing the deficit is the affordability of homes. The cost of conventional housing materials means competitors cannot effectively balance out quality homes with affordability.
How do you plan to effectively address these issues?
We aim to reduce Tanzania’s 3 million housing deficit by introducing cost-effective environmentally friendly housing technology which sees a housing unit being built in one-tenth of the time. Our technology and budget allocation allow us to build 4 times more houses that our competitors at any given time. We aim to build on average 400 fully functional modern housing units a year.
You mentioned that you build and sell affordable houses using recycled material that is more durable than traditional concrete. Can you explain how this works?
Our product is prefab material composed of calcium silicate sandwich panel with a wall suspension force of 50 KG. In addition, the material is 1000% earthquake proof, 3 times stronger than a brick, 100% radio-active free as well fire & waterproof.
Your products are also said to be composed of recycled light steel structure and wall panel more durable than concrete. Can you walk us through the technology behind this?
The product is composed of recycled material which is made mainly calcium silicate. It is prefabricated which means all the housing material and steel structure parts are assembled in the factory. it takes approximately 7 days to erect the light steel structure frame, of course, cement flooring, roofing, electrical installations and plumbing and paintwork gives the total construction cycle of one housing approximately 8 weeks.
Given the environmental and cost-effective approaches, your products seem like an easy sell and a win-win for all. How much buy-in have you had so far?
The project is currently in the start-up phase and so we are actively seeking investors to buy-in equity shares which would give the project some teeth and we can start to build momentum, such as establishing pre-sales and ratifying off-take agreements. It should be noted that various off-take agreements (700,000,000 USD) have been signed with the Government of Tanzania for residential housing development projects. One such example is Prefab company Yei Fei has partnered with the Tanzanian government to build 15,000 residential homes.
You have mentioned several markets of interest in Africa. Why these specific markets?
Our current focus is on the East African market. In particular we chose Tanzania for the following reasons;(1) Boasts a steady annual GDP of 7% in 2015 to 7 .9 % to-date as compared with Nigeria’s 3.1 % (2)Politically stable country with an elected anti-corruption President (3) Government has increased spending budget by 31% to focus on infrastructure to encourage investment in that area.
Do you intend on exploring more markets in the near future?
Yes indeed, we intend on exploring various different market segments even within Tanzania. With this housing technology, we can also explore lower income houses, student and military accommodation, office outlets, among others. The discovery of gas in Tanzania has created industries and employment opportunities, we intend on building housing units in various parts of the country including Mtwara, Arusha, Dodoma, among others. The possibilities are endless!
What is the ultimate vision for Golden Sands Housing Solutions and how do you intend on realizing this in the short and long-term?
In the short term, we want to address the housing deficit in Tanzania and we believe our housing technology will do just that. In the long term and through company branding we hope to establish ourselves as a leading participant in both the Tanzanian and the African market as a whole.