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Building better communities

Article - February 18, 2014
Regimanuel Gray is a leading Ghanaian real estate developer that not only builds homes for all budgets, but in addition uses materials it produces itself and sells throughout West Africa
While Ghana’s spectacular economic boom has created huge opportunity in the construction industry, the real estate sector hasn’t been able to keep up.  
“The real estate sector has benefitted tremendously because with all the growth in the oil and the other industries popping up, the population grows,” says Emmanuel Botchway, Executive Chairman of Regimanuel Gray. “People are coming in and there is an influx of investment, and these people need somewhere to put their heads.” 
The greater Accra area is welcoming two very different groups: expat workers who can afford the price tag of new homes in good areas and Ghanaians who leave the poorer rural areas to seek jobs in the capital. Sadly, many of the latter end up living in shantytowns and slums – either because they stay poor or because of the shortage of affordable homes. 
With the housing deficit hovering around 1.7 million units, real estate developers are working at full speed to create new properties. Though the high-end segment is where the profits are guaranteed, some companies like Regimanuel Gray try to offer a blend, catering for both low-to-middle income and high-income buyers. 
Mr Botchway would like to see the State widen its role in closing the housing gap, partnering with the private sector to build affordable homes. “It would be a win-win situation,” he explains. “The government could give a 30 per cent discount to first-time buyers. But they must be employed, so they pay social security and tax. Then they can move into a properly developed estate with good standards. As a result, the government would not have the burden of social housing.” 
The chairman goes on to say that Regimanuel Gray enjoyed incentives, such as tax-free materials and a five-year tax holiday, during which the company was “able to build good developments at a good price”. 

“We wanted to maintain a certain level of quality so we take the stones, sand and blocks and we create factories”

Emmanuel Botchway,
Executive Chairman of
Regimanuel Gray
Those who were able to snatch up a house during this time enjoy Regimanuel Gray’s trademark quality that is due in large part to the company using building materials that it produces locally from its own quarry. 
“When you have to depend on other people to supply your materials to build, it becomes expensive and the quality varies,” says Mr Botchway. “We wanted to maintain a certain level of quality so we take the stones, sand and blocks and we create factories. Wherever we go, we try to build a supply chain around us, and we import the rest.”
Regimanuel Gray is also looking to partner with other companies to begin developing whole communities and satellite cities, which will afford residents with schools, shopping and restaurants. This will ultimately cut down on traffic and congestion, since now most people have to drive into central Accra for these things. There is, however, a major obstacle, according to Mr Botchway.
“We are trying to develop this concept gradually in the country. But it is expensive and the banks are not big enough to support it, so there is a delay,” he laments.
The company has four main project sites, three of which are near Accra while the fourth is in Sekondi-Takoradi, some 150 miles west of the capital. Its homes range from luxury apartments and executive single and two-storey houses to affordable apartments and expandable, detached and semi-detached houses.
Because many of its buyers hail from the Diaspora, especially in the UK and the US, Regimanuel Gray has offices in London and Texas and lists its prices in US dollars.