Bakoteh Housing Project

The BHE was the Gambia Government’s first foray in to mass housing development in the Gambia through a package deal contract with two Norwegian Companies-Astrup and Aubert A/S of Oslo and A/S Industriship of Sharpsburg for the construction of 1,340 low-income housing units in Bakoteh, Kotu, Bakau and Fajikunda for a total cost of about GMD 15,413,475 (1 Pound = D4 – 5) at 7.7 % for 10 years. As a precondition, the Government paid a down payment of D1 million. In June 1980, Cabinet following advice by a Shelter Consultant (UK) decided to renegotiate the contract and in December 1980 a much scaled-down contract was signed for 200 housing units totaling GMD 5.5 million.
The Gambia Government transferred to the Housing Finance Fund the whole of Bakoteh Housing Estate comprising 200 housing units as initial seed capital. The Government also provided a yearly subvention of about GMD 85,000 to Housing Finance Fund. However, this subvention ceased after three years of operation of SSHFC, thus leaving HFF to fend for itself.
The SSHFC then proceeded to sign a supplementary contract with same contractors for the construction of compound fences, roads, gates and kitchens at total cost of GMD 1,220,826 for 10 years at 10.2% interest. Finally, at the end of 1983, the 200 housing units were delivered to SSHFC for allocation to beneficiaries.
Like most conventional approaches to mass housing provision, the Bakoteh Scheme failed in that the end product was unaffordable by the target group of beneficiaries that is those earning up to grade 12 (1983 pay scale). The Government thus has to subsidise the houses for 15% and also deleted any interest element on the loans. The loans were then given to the beneficiaries for a 25 year repayment period.