Africa Housing Challenges and Opportunities

Social housing is a term referring to houses owned by the state, or nonprofit organizations, or in some cases by a combination of these two, with the aim of providing affordable housing. It is generally considered as a potential remedy, to the housing inequality issue.


The Threatening Urbanization Crisis

Growing African cities and towns, are drawing in rural migrants looking for jobs. Shantytowns and squatter settlements are developing at a high rate.

Severe housing shortage exists across Africa, due to the lack of capacity, both in terms of human resources and materials, to provide housing promptly. A lack of end user financing and affordability, makes the situation more difficult. Governments together with developers are in a continuous effort to find solutions, that will make it possible for people on modest incomes to purchase their own homes. Increasingly, developers are seeing rapid rates of urbanization, as an opportunity.

In Ghana, a western African country, a population of 22 million people in 2008, has reached over 25 million presently. The population growth is way to faster than the housing authority can keep up with. Housing is high on the development agenda. It is estimated that there will be housing deficit, of more than 2 million units by 2020 in the country.

In East Africa, the problem seems to be even bigger. There is a current need, to fulfill a housing demand of about 12 - to 16 million homes, according to a recent World Bank's estimation. The African Development Bank is trying its best to fill the demands, backing private equity vehicles, that targets investments in the low-cost housing sector in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In South Africa, the Social Housing Regulatory Authority manages and regulates social housing institutions and the private sector. The Section 26 of the Constitution states, that all South Africans have the right to have access to adequate housing. The National Housing Department estimated that the number of families without adequate housing is higher than 3 million. Recognizing the need to subsidize, and the capital costs of projects, the government has committed itself to funding a large part, of the social housing project, close to the two third of it's cost. This will enable subsidized units in projects to be offered to tenants, with low monthly household incomes.


Affordability Remains a Major Challenge in Africa's Housing

Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world. Probably the most typical image of the African cities today, is the insufficient and poor quality housing units. With an increasing scale of urbanization, providing appropriate and affordable housing to the urban poor, remains as one of the most ungovernable problems.

African Governments needs to subsidize, provide taxes and import duty incentives to developers, which results in keeping the costs down and the houses affordable. Financing is definitely critical. Economical facilitations like, low interest loans to developers and constructors, and payment installment schemes, for potential homeowners, must become available.


Prefabricated Construction can be a transparent answer to Africa's housing issues

Prefabricated construction together with green technology, can be a transparent part of the solution. Modern Prefabricated construction methods ensure quality production of building components, that are manufactured at a plant in volumes. The material wastage is controlled to the minimum, quality is maintained, and labor time of construct is reduced substantially, alongside with the overall construction costs.

In our opinion, the combination of economic facilities with the use of modern construction technologies, it is essential to address the problem, and will benefit African continent.

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