Dentons would like to thank Hassane Koné from GENI & KEBE for this month’s contribution to the Africa section of the Dentons South Africa Newsletter. In this article, John discusses the real estate and housing sector in Côte d’Ivoire.

Introduction

For many years, population growth, combined with sustained urbanisation, has created enormous needs in all sectors, including the housing sector, in Côte d'Ivoire.

Statistics show a deficit of 400,000 houses across the country. This deficit, which numbers 200,000 in the capital city, Abidjan, and 200,000 in other parts of the country, requires significant financing.

In 2013, the state estimated the financing need in the housing sector to be more than 400 billion CFA (approximately US$655 million) a year.

In addition to financing, other issues in the housing sector are land tenure, challenges in the procedure for issuing building permits, registration, the cost of inputs and the viability of titles.

Moreover, despite the investment of property developers in the sector, current activities do not exceed 3,000 housing units per year.

To resolve this situation, the Ivorian government has implemented a new housing policy, which is based on:

  • the construction of several housing units;
  • the improvement of the regulatory framework; and
  • the facilitation of access to housing.

Housing construction

Faced with a deficit of accommodation, the government has undertaken several real estate projects. These projects plan the construction of more than 60,000 housing units, including 50,000 in Abidjan, which experiences a high demand.

The government selected 46 promoters, including 42 Ivorians and four foreigners, for the construction of housing under the programme.

As a consequence, the country now has 72 social housing projects in progress. These are implemented by:

  • The Ivorian Construction and Property Management Company (SICOGI), for the construction of 20,000 houses throughout the country. This accounts for 25 per cent of the government programme.
  • The Moroccan group Addoha, for the construction of more than 9,000 affordable housing units.
  • The Alliances group, for the construction of 14,000 housing units in Abidjan: 10,000 affordable and 4,000 moderate to expensive houses.

Improving the regulatory framework

The urban planning sector in Côte d'Ivoire is governed by:

  • Constitution of Côte d’Ivoire of October 2016;
  • Law No. 98-750 of 23 December 1998 relating to Rural Land Tenure;
  • Law No. 2004-412 of 14 August 2004 amending section 26 of Law No. 98-750 of 23 December 1998 relating to Rural Land Tenure;
  • Decree 99-593 of 13 October 1999 on the organisation and allocation of Rural Land Management Committees (CGFR);
  • Decree No 99-594 of 13 October 1999 setting out the methods of implementing customary land areas of the Law; and
  • Investment Code of Côte d'Ivoire.

In addition to this legislation and in order to improve this regulatory framework, the country has undertaken several reforms, in particular:

  • the introduction of a single land title to clarify transactions in the real estate sector;
  • simplification of procedures for obtaining building permits and registration of title deeds;
  • reduction of the registration period for parcels of land to a maximum of three months;
  • reduction of registration costs by 9.6 per cent of property value;
  • the establishment of a single point of contact for the issuance of building permits;
  • reduction of waiting times from one year to three months;
  • reduction of the cost of the location certificate from 100,000 CFA (approximately US$165) to 90,000 CFA (approximately US$150);
  • operationalisation of the Electronic Land Book (LIFE); and
  • reduction of the rate of registration duty on transfers of immovable property from 10 per cent to 4 per cent.

Taxation

A specific real estate tax exists in Côte d’Ivoire. It is imposed at the rate of 1.5 per cent for undeveloped land, 11 per cent on developed land or 15 per cent when the property is owned and used by a company for its own purposes. This rate is reduced to 4 per cent for unoccupied buildings.

Facilitating access to housing

To facilitate access to housing for those most in need, the government has strengthened financing programmes. As a result, interest rates have been significantly reduced and repayment terms have been more than doubled.

In addition to improving access to finance for purchasers of real estate, the government has also planned the establishment of an incentive mechanism for promoters.