Hempcrete seen as part of eco-friendly solution to Zimbabwe’s housing shortage

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The government of Zimbabwe sees a role for hemp in construction after securing a $63 million line of credit from an African fund to develop eco-friendly buildings.

National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said the financing will help the country to meet its target of raising 220,000 housing units by 2025, indicating hempcrete, precast concrete slabs, reclaimed steel, and ferrock will be used in the initiative.

The financing is from Nairobi, Kenya-based Shelter Afrique, a pan-African financial institution that supports the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa. Zimbabwe is a shareholder in Shelter Afrique, also known as Company for Habitat and Housing in Africa.

New technologies

“Government migrated from only use of brick and mortar strategies to the application of new technologies in housing delivery,” Garwe said. “We developed some technologies, consulted countries abroad where these technologies have been applied, among them Dubai and South Africa.”

The government is starting the process of building a factory to turn out green building materials with separate funding from Shelter Afrique, according to the minister.

In its efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, Zimbabwe last year upped its commitment to greenhouse gas reduction from 33% to 40%, meaning the country would curb emissions to roughly 45 million tons across all sectors of the economy. The government has said that if no action is taken to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, emissions could hit about 75 million tons by 2030.


Under the housing ministry’s tender program, participating companies bring their own financing to develop designs they submit for approval. Garwe said the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has approved the tenders, and some construction could begin by October.

In the project’s first phase, four developers will be assigned to a province and produce a minimum of 100 blocks of flats at a rate of 20 units per month.

“We expect that in 12 months we will have produced 1,200 blocks of flats per province of 20 units each,” the minister said.

Zimbabwe’s government earlier this year announced a separate $377 million project to deal with a housing shortage by constructing affordable homes.

Construction costs

The country’s poor find it difficult to build homes because of the high cost of construction in Zimbabwe, which has the highest prices in the region for cement, leaving them to live in dwellings made of plastic, mud or clay.

More than 1.5 million Zimbabweans have been on a housing waiting list for homes, many of them for more than a decade. Promises for home building often come ahead of elections, which are set for next year.

The Shelter Afrique loan facility has been extended to CBZ Bank Limited, Banc ABC, ZB Financial Holdings, FBC Bank Ltd., and CABS for the construction of houses.

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