Africa’s urban housing in crisis
African slums - Africa’s urban housing in crisis
Africa’s urban housing in crisis, needs greater care, massive investment
These scenes, including many more not included here, are the realities of Africa, a continent in full mutation where UN Habitat says 46 cities are now larger than one million people. What can be done to deal with this situation? This has become a one-million dollar question on every policymaker and investor’s lips. However, while these ‘people in power’ wonder what to do next, the truth is that they seem not to be doing enough to help solve these problems.
A housing conference hosted on 11-13 September 2013 by the African Union of Housing Finance (AUHF) in Mauritius says Africa’s housing need is growing quickly, and demands much greater attention than it receives by policymakers and investors. While the perception among many Africans is that a lot of money is being invested to move the sector forward, in reality however, delegates attending the AUHF conference were told that Africa’s housing investment remains limited, compared to other forms of infrastructural investment.
This comprises only 9.6% in total capital invested in Africa’s infrastructure projects up to February 2013, and only 1.5% of total projects, AUHF says. “Not only is housing investment dwarfed by investment in large-scale infrastructure projects such as energy production, transport and logistics, it also falls behind investment in commercial construction,” the conference says.
The conference identified five areas where governments, the private sector and development finance institutions should urgently focus to enhance the performance of Africa’s housing markets, and improve their investment grade:
• Clarity of rights:
• Serviced land for housing:
• Affordability of formal housing
• Financial innovation:
Africa’s capital markets are shallow and secondary markets are ineffective, the AUHF conference says. Therefore, it urges policymakers to facilitate the creation of an environment conducive to long term funding.
For low-income households, housing microfinance offers an important opportunity to finance housing on an incremental basis.
Photo: A slum on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi
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