The Yearbook is focused on centrality of housing to a post-Covid-19 resilience and recovery strategy.
The COVID-19 pandemic and country lockdowns have brought the state of housing into sharp focus: many households in Africa do not have a home they can comfortably stay in.
This is one of the problems identified in the latest edition of the Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook, launched by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) during the African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) virtual conference.
Decent housing remains out of reach for most people because they cannot afford even the cheapest newly built house by a private sector developer. The World Bank estimates that 40 million people in Africa will be pushed into extreme poverty post-Covid.
According to Kecia Rust, CAHF Executive Director and founder, “The year 2020 will be remembered as the year we all stayed at home. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments across the continent implemented stringent lockdown regulations. Aside from the economic impact of lockdown regulations, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the persistent state of disaster in which a majority of urban households across the continent live, whether in informal settlements, tenement blocks, inner city buildings, lower-income townships, or suburbs; and whether they rent, or own, or share their homes.”
Most African countries have rapidly urbanising, young, and growing populations, increasing the demand for affordable housing. UN Habitat estimated in 2018 that 60% of African urban households, or 238 million people in Africa, live in slum conditions. Investment in affordable housing in Africa is also growing but is not filling the gap as people are still priced out of the market. Government housing schemes also do not fill the gap on scale. For many households, the only way to own a house is through small investments and building their homes over time. The incremental housing approach must be supported.
Rust says that significant opportunities exist to drive incremental home improvement products and finance, and these will also help the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals. Good housing, she adds, drives access to basic services and profoundly improves the health and well-being of low-income households.
The Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook provides a general overview of housing, housing finance and property markets in each country; however, its main focus is on affordable housing solutions for the lower income market. In its first edition, in 2010, the Yearbook included only 15 countries. It now includes short, four-page profiles for all 55 countries, as well as an overview of affordable housing markets. Since 2017, the Yearbook has been published in both English and French.
Data for the sector remains scarce and producing the Yearbook involves a massive data collection by over 44 experts from across the continent—to identify developments in the different countries. Each country profile includes a set of key indicators, drawn from international sources. CAHF also has its own data with a set of 34 indicators collected by the Yearbook authors in each country, touching on all aspects of the housing construction value chain and the main elements of residential property markets.
The pandemic made this on-the-ground data collection more difficult when people were in lockdown and organisations short-staffed. The constraints arising from the COVID lockdowns also made 2020 a difficult year for construction and put pressure on house prices, making housing even less affordable. It has also meant that governments need to do more with less. UNCTAD report estimates that economic activity in African economies will contract by 1.4 percent in 2020, with smaller economies contracting by as much as 7.8%.
In this context, CAHF argues for the investment in housing and infrastructure by all sectors to rebuild economies, create jobs, stimulate markets, while at the same time provide households with improved living standards, which has a direct impact on health outcomes too.
The 2020 Yearbook is the 11th edition and is available online at www.housingfinanceafrica.org.
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