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BHCI, the keystone for financing housing policy

Article - February 13, 2014
The BHCI is working together with the State to make the national social housing programme become a reality
Côte d’Ivoire’s banking sector continues its recovery after the country’s 10 year-long crisis. During the war, major banks in the country, including its central bank, closed. Now, as the nation’s GDP grows, its banking sector does nothing but expand. 
The BHCI (Côte d’Ivoire Housing Bank), created in 1994, survived the crisis and endures as the country’s mechanism for financing housing policy. During President Alassane Ouattara’s 2011 election campaign, he touted housing as one of his key issues. Fortunately, Mr Ouattara has followed through and the banking sector has undergone needed restructuring and reform under his leadership. This has been a boon for the nation, particularly in relation to financing housing policy, since, as Souleymane Dogoni, BHCI’s CEO puts it, “social housing requires political will.” 
He credits the President for having such a positive influence in changing the banking sector landscape along with emphasising the need for housing policy and finally taking into account low-income citizens. Thanks to restored security, the Central Bank of West Africa (BCEAO) will soon facilitate the reopening of banking in the country, which will result in a sharp rise of the banking rate, says Mr Dogoni. 
In addition, the introduction and implementation of new banking technologies is increasing. Access to financing has changed and the government has restructured this aspect through the National Development Plan policy. It has also redesigned its Code of Housing Mobilisation (CDMAH), helping to decentralise delivery of property titles, and making them easier to receive in reasonable timeframes. 
“Our belief is that we need national banks in key sectors of the economy. Because commercial banks are businesses and they’re not always the ones who finance development”

Souleymane Dogoni,

According to Mr Dogoni, competition is fierce; the banking environment has improved, which allows for a broader level in financing housing so that the BHCI is not the only bank absorbing needs of customers. Predominantly state-owned, the BHCI has economic as well as social responsibilities. 
“It is not a simple bank,” says Mr Dogoni. “Our belief is that we need national banks in key sectors of the economy.” 
While traditional, commercial banks focus on profit margins, BHCI focuses on development, something which requires long-term financial investment. Its network is now growing and developing quickly. It is the first bank to sign a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Construction, making it a spearhead for development. In addition, BHCI collaborates with SICOGI (Public Ivoirian Construction and Real Estate Management Company) with projects being done in Abidjan as well as around the country, and it also structures financing with developers. 
By working with the government, BHCI is committed to community development, supporting housing programmes and making housing affordable for individuals. What could benefit the sector in a great way, according to Mr Dogoni, are efficient methods of building, including new technologies, which could be applied in the country in order to enhance housing structures and lower costs; but resources are needed, and that is where investment comes in. 
With the country’s newfound stability, investment opportunities are there, and demand is abundant. BHCI is needed – “the bank has its place”, says Mr Dogoni, and “a bright future ahead.”