The menace of home deficit in Africa
By Amos Egboche
African Cities via analytic surveys by the UN-Habitat will need to accommodate a minimum of additional 40,000 people daily for the next fifteen years and over
Urbanization immensely will place strains nonstop on affordable urban land and housing provision within the coming decades.
It is now a fact that only four out of every ten Africans live currently in populated areas; the lowest ratio in the world. African Cities’ growth for most countries is densely concentrated even as we speak.
It is steadfastly increasing phenomenally and uncontrollably.
Based on the available Statistics index by the UN-Habitat; between 2005 and 2010 Lagos grew by 1.8 million people, Kinshasa by 1.6 million, and Luanda by 1.2 million.
In terms of proportional growth, Abuja doubled in size by 51.7 percent, and Ouagadougou grew by 43.7 percent, and Luanda by 35.0 percent within the same ﬁve year period.
For a start, there is a very huge margin that exists within the level of urbanization of African countries. In Burundi for instance, only 11.0 percent of the population live in cities
While in Uganda only 13.3 percent, whereas in contrast, 86.0 percent of the population of Gabon and 81.8 percent in Western Sahara sleep in cities.
Furthermore, despite requirements for intra-country, the rapidly sustained urbanization that characterizes the African continent is placing enormous strain on the supply and affordability of urban land and housing
With the problem of limited affordable housing alternatives, it’s no surprise that the bulk of Africans make their homes outside the formal housing market.
Majorly in slums, informal settlements, and marginalized village suburbs far from developed or government-approved areas.
Although such houses are provided at low-income prices that households can more likely afford, such settlements are rarely either well built, healthy, comfortable, digniﬁed, spacious, or convenient to live in.
The continuous growth and expansion of African cities have widened the gap between the available demand against the supply of urban lands with housing.
Houses developed and sold through the formal market are just not affordable for most Africans. It’s rather unfortunate and unaffordable not simply because incomes are too low but also because the key components plus mechanisms affecting home cost and access are just too expensive.
Urban land for development is increasingly scarce, poorly regulated, and thus highly-priced. Construction materials and infrastructure costs are increasing from already high levels.
Not to mention the rate of inflation as a result of COVID-19 which has led to recession in so many countries and in Africa where the pandemic effect s still yet to be contained.
Conventional mortgage ﬁnance is either not available or just unobtainable for many Africans; thanks to high down-payment requirements, expensive collaterals, roof-breaking loan protocols, and short loan periods with high-interest rates.
Such housing inputs make adequate housing unaffordable for the masses. Land access and use Acts remain a serious challenge to scaling up affordable housing initiatives in Africa.
There are many various legal regimes concerning tenure and management which have their roots in the soil of European colonial Masters who designed self-interest policies that will protect their Country’s interest at the expense of the original community resident settlers.
In addition, contemporary socio-economic and geo-political factors alongside indigenous cultural and normative systems also suffocate the rights and privileges the bulk citizens should enjoy.
Such complex land policies confront African governments in their efforts to develop and implement urban planning and housing programs which creates loopholes for much exploitation.
Thus, housing is accessed through various uncoordinated mechanisms. These patterns lead to the scarcity of urban land which makes individuals squat within informal settlements.
Consequently, these informal settlements have increasingly been commoditized as it involves payment of rents, which places extra pressure on already vulnerable urban poor households.
Within the region. Selected countries like Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania have adopted progressive land policies which could ultimately facilitate the supply of land for housing
At the regional level, some progress is being made to enhance land management, access, and equity through initiatives like the Land Policy Initiative, which is coordinated by the African Union, African Development Bank
And therefore the UN Economic Commission for Africa and declarations of the Third African Ministerial Conferences on Housing and Concrete Development (AMCHUD), especially after the Bamako Conference held within the last decade where land was recognized as playing a central role in sustainable and equitable urban development
The security of land tenure systems is often achieved in many various ways. For instance, through clear long-term rental contracts or formal recognition of customary land rights with accessible and effective dispute resolution mechanisms, enhanced tenure systems and structures would generate many household and community beneﬁts through encouraging investment in housing and neighborhoods
Apart from being a basis for shelter and access to land equity, secured land rights can act as a security net in times of hardship and supply ﬁnancial security.
They’re a crucial transferable asset that will be sold, rented, inherited, or loaned. Secured land rights also encourage people to take a position in improved housing and therefore the land itself.
Several African countries are experimenting and implementing innovative approaches to beat tenure insecurity in various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
These include housing permits in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, certiﬁcates of rights in Botswana, community land trusts in Kenya, temporary occupation licenses in Kenya, and communal ownership in South Africa.
Also, a model in Namibia uses a variety comprising starter, leasehold, and freehold titles.
Along with the land, available and affordable housing ﬁnance is a fundamental requirement that has serious limitations to affordable housing in Africa.
Recent evidence suggests that only 15 percent of urban dwellers in Africa can secure housing ﬁnance, leaving the remaining 85 percent without the ability to afford housing demand, rising costs, and conventional ﬁnance facilities.
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Africa remains undeveloped and rarely do they cater for low-class citizens and sometimes even middle-income households.
In response, many countries in Africa are pioneering ‘bottom-up’ micro-ﬁnance and community savings schemes.
These approaches enable low-income households living in slums or informal settlements to pool their resources together over long periods to be able to develop credibility and prove their savings capacity with financial integrity to finally be qualified for development funds.
Unfortunately, these potentially widely transformative schemes remain constrained by unsupportive elements or institutions with die-hard regulatory frameworks in many African countries.
Moreover, African countries need to continue relaxing and reducing the strict measure of regulatory frameworks that dictate how land should be made available and developed as this, in turn, fails to satisfy the requirements of the poor who need far more ﬂexible and affordable frameworks.
Currently, progress is being made toward affordable housing provision in several countries in Africa; North African countries to this effect are currently experiencing negative slum growths which go to say absolutely that the proportion of slum dwellers within this region have decreased within the last twenty years
Egypt, Morocco, and particularly Tunisia are the foremost successful countries in this regard. These three countries reduced their collective slum populations from 20.8 million in 1990 to an estimated 11.8 million in 2010.
The decrease is essentially due to the successful implementation of housing policies and programs that have increased the low-income housing supply and systematically improved slums and informal dwellings.
The urgent task facing Africa is to extend affordable housing supply in African cities through appropriate policies and legislation that stimulate housing production, recognize its potential economic beneﬁts and specialize in large-scale programs, not small one-off projects.
Access to adequate and affordable housing for all Africans can conceivably be achieved
It will require governments to shift faraway from permissive projects to systematic and integrated policies to methods that will increase housing supply while reducing the average home costs through special emphasis and focus on those groups who urgently need government support the most
Low-income households, women, and vulnerable and marginalized groups. African governments must become enablers if affordable land and housing are to be developed at a scale that such rapid urbanization necessitates, they need to be leaders who act from a futuristic perspective