Iraq will need 2.5 million new housing units by 2016 if it is to meet the demand of its growing population.

Speaking at MEED’s Iraq Infrastructure Projects 2011 conference in Istanbul, Istabraq Ibraheem al-Shouk, senior deputy to the Construction and Housing Minister said that the population of Iraq is growing at a rate of 2.3 per cent per year.

“There are opportunities for international companies,” says Al-Shouk. “But there are problems with land allocations, lack of investment and lack of confidence in public companies.”

Between 2012 and 2015, 7,000 housing units will be constructed for staff of the Construction and Housing Ministry. A further 50,000-60,000 housing units will need to be constructed as low-cost housing at a cost of around $2bn.

The government has budgeted for 10 new housing projects to be launched every year. Each new project will comprise about 600 housing units each.

According to Al Shouk, it is vital that Iraq builds affordable housing. Al-Shouk says that the units may be rented, bought or supplied free of charge to the poor through housing associations run by the government.