Africa’s affordable housing needs
An ABIQ webinar
As Africa’s population is set to increase by 25 per cent over the next decade, housing needs to be affordable, economically viable and sustainable.
That was the overall view of a wide-ranging debate on the future of the continent in terms of accommodation for middle and lower-income populations.
In total, 15 million more homes, bringing a total of 71 million, will be needed by 2030 – as 400 million more people need homes, at a cost of US$1.4 trillion.
Sustainable development specialist Michelle Goliath said the solution was not just creating concrete blocks.
“We need to integrate the environment with affordable housing,” she said.
She put forward the idea of zones radiating from a central housing complex, first being a vegetable garden, then a boundary followed by short, medium and long term agriculture to generate income.
“We try to import too many solutions, which lose our African-ness,” she added.
Lecturer and researcher Prisca Simbanegavi said building upwards is a key, especially where there is a large concentration of people. Better transport networks are also vital, as are what she called “zoom towns”.
“Where you used to go for vacations, now becomes your home,” she said.
One solution she put forward were container units as living spaces, although Simbanegavi acknowledged affordability and aesthetics were an issue and they should not be just a “tin home”.
Property economist Thabang Lisbon Rakoena identified finance as a problem in the development of new homes, including an underdeveloped capital market, lack of investment in infrastructure, high-interest rates, weak spending power and high building costs.
“Housing is not included in urgent national priorities,” he said.
Simbanegavi pointed to self-contained mixed-use developments in Durban and Pretoria, South Africa as possible ways forward, as they are well connected and involve green building techniques.
Goliath said that no one model project exists anywhere in the world and a major rethink is necessary.
“We have a lot to do in terms of policy development. We have a lot of work to do to realise the potential of the sector,” she stated.
“Solutions need to be custom-made and away from creating non-livable environments.”
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